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Affordable Research Options for Financial Institutions | Community Bank Marketing

Kyle Hershberger, President, Cross Financial

Use what you have. Pursue what you need.  – Kyle Hershberger, President, Cross Financial

For marketers at many community banks, finding quality market research at an affordable price can be difficult. At ICBB, we hope to be a resource for community banks in all aspects of their operations. We’ve Kyle Hershberger, President at Cross Financial, to provide information on bank marketing subjects. In this article, the second of a two-part series, Hershberger provides practical advice for community bank marketers on accessing affordable marketing research.


If you don’t have room in your budget for acomprehensiveemployee engagement survey, consider ways to introduce an online channel that provides your employees with a simple and anonymous way to share suggestions, feedback, and opinions. An online suggestion box attached to your intranet is an affordable alternative. You can provide rated questions or simply invite open comments. Your choice. Or considering having your key middle managers conduct employee focus groups to gather insights. If you want to improve training, benefits, or operations, who better to ask than your end-users. Some banks encourage managers to conduct focus groups with work groups that report to different managers to help encourage open dialogues.

These ideas also work with customer research. If you are unable to conduct a customer satisfaction survey, could you provide customers with an easy-to-access suggestion box or comment card. If the evaluation is short, it can be incorporated as a simple step in a branch visit or telephone interaction. It also never hurts to just ask. Would you be willing to conduct ‘on the spot’ conversations with customers with only one goal; to better understand their perceptions of the bank?Customers are the perfect source to assessments of service levels and staff skills.

Many financial institutions utilize mystery shopping evaluations to assess the service and sales levels their employees are delivering. If you can’t conduct a full program of shopping evaluations with an professional shopping company, could you use observational coaching with your employees during their interactions with customers. A manager’s observations can easily identify if the employees are meeting the service standards and expectations that have been included in their development training.Engage your employeesby asking them to call a competitor in the area and inquire about a new relationship. Their analysis of employee performance at another institution will illustrate quickly how good or poor sales skills influence a potential relationship decision.

One of the more costly research projects a financial institution might conduct is a brand awareness study. It can be very revealing to discover what trade area residents attribute to your bank’s brand. Are you competitive? Do you provide outstanding service? Do residents and business owners even think of your bank when asked about available banking options.

In the absence of that local market brand assessment, invest some time using the free resources available on the FDIC website. In most geographic areas local deposit market share is a strong indicator of top-of-mind name awareness. It’s not a perfect correlation, but in many markets your placement in a deposit market share assessment will produce a similar placement with top-of-mind awareness. If you are in the top five in deposit market share, you will likely in the top five across other market attributes.

Information will help move your institution from leaders that rely on statements that begin with‘I Think’, to an institution that ‘knows’ the nature of their conditions and opportunities. Help transition your institution to an organization that knows the facts about their current operations and their opportunities. Invest in information and data management and move ideas and questions to business insights.

Kyle Hershberger




Kyle Hershberger is the President and Jack-Of-All-Trades at Cross Financial. Kyle’s experience in banking, banking software, research and marketing services help clients focus on desired results. Kyle’s industry expertise comes from decades of working with financial institutions across the nation. Kyle has been at the forefront of research and planning to support financial institution sales and marketing activities. Kyle is a frequent presenter at banking industry conferences and seminars and a member of the faculty at the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin. Kyle is a 3rd generation banker and a 2nd generation consultant!

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