Improving Your Bank Brand with SMBs

It’s a common perception that SMBs think all banks are alike. They don’t. In fact, their perceptions of different banks vary widely. And that means that the fortunes of banks serving SMBs can also vary widely.

To help bank marketers improve SMB brand perception – and as a result, acquisition, engagement and revenue – we recently surveyed over 300 U.S. SMB principals. The findings are instructive; there are some great learnings on what SMBs value in a banking relationship.

Trust: In short supply

When asked which institutions SMBs trust, 44% choose “other small businesses,” followed by search engines (43%), not-for-profits (28%), and the medical system (24%). 17% trust large businesses. Least trusted? You guessed it, the U.S. Congress, at 8%.

When asked which industries SMBs trust, 53% choose “Your CPA,” followed by credit unions (50%), overnight package delivery companies (49%) and office supply stores / print centers (48%). In financial services, 46% trust local / community banks, 32% trust credit card companies, and 29% trust national / regional banks. Least trusted industry? Alternative lenders, at 11%.

Banks: Awareness vs. trust

SMBs are most aware of Chase (64% aware / very aware), Bank of America (55%), Capital One (53%), Wells Fargo (51%) and Citibank (47%). However, among those with an opinion, SMBs are most trusting of New York Community Bank (46%), Union Bank (39%), Fifth Third Bank (37%), Wells Fargo (35%) and Chase (33%).

The most important driver of trust is…

Keeping SMBs’ money secure. 84% of SMBs rate that as an important or very important aspect of dealing with their bank. After that, they are most interested in low rates and fees (78%), customer service / quick problem resolution (72%), convenience / location of nearby branches (68%), and online banking (61%).

How well do banks perform?

SMBs rate banks highest on keeping their money secure; 74% say their bank does that well or very well – followed by convenience / location of nearby branches (71%), online banking (69%), customer service / quick problem resolution (66%) and phone support (64%). The biggest disparity is on low rates and fees; 78% rate them as important, compared to 50% who rate their bank well on offering them.

Bank satisfaction

71% of SMBs are satisfied with their bank, and only 10% plan to leave their bank in the next five years. Of the “leavers,” almost four in five (79%) would be swayed to stay if their bank offered lower rates and fees, followed by “open a more convenient location” (59%) and “offer / improve business / financial management advice” (30%). The most important reasons listed by the “stayers” are good customer service (52%), convenient locations (49%) and low rates and fees (46%).

The role of content in building a bank brand

32% of SMBs have read business management advice from their bank. Of them, 84% rate it useful, 75% agree it makes them feel more favorably towards their bank, 72% say it makes them more likely to stay with their bank, and 66% say it makes them more likely to use additional bank offerings. The takeaway? Content works, so promote it to your customers.

What content SMBs want from you

SMBs generally look for content on technology, their industry, and law and taxes. However, from their bank, they want content on financial planning and management, law and taxes, operations, and leadership and management. Unsurprisingly, they look to their bank for advice on how to keep more of the revenue they work so hard to bring in.

In terms of formats, SMBs most want an email newsletter from their bank, followed by white papers, research reports, analyst reports and articles.

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About Stu Richards

Stu is responsible for setting Bredin strategy, as well as day-to-day management of company operations including marketing and business development, partnerships and alliances, product development, finance, operations and HR. A frequent speaker on marketing to SMBs, Stu has more than a decade of technology sales and brand marketing experience at IBM and Nabisco Brands. Stu holds an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College.