You can have the most sought-after product in the market but unless you aggressively promote it on an ongoing basis, it’s just another product.
As a result, banks and credit unions fail to put adequate – if any – marketing effort behind their free checking accounts.
Here’s a marketing tip: Free checking is not a marketing offer – it’s a product.
Having a FREE Checking account as part of your checking product menu is simply the first step in launching a successful marketing program to grow checking account market share. It’s the first piece of the puzzle.
By the way, the FREE Checking account has been around for many years – long before its breakout in 1982 with the introduction of the High Performance Checking Account Marketing Program anchored by the Totally Free Checking account.
What changed the face of Free Checking wasn’t the account itself – it was the turnkey marketing program banks used to aggressively promote it.
This turnkey marketing program consisted of several very important components:
- An appealing offer of Free Checking and a free gift
- A checking product menu consisting of seven unique accounts
- An ongoing direct mail campaign using a proprietary prospect list development tool
- Frequent, detailed response reports for management
- Exterior Free Checking banners
- In-branch promotional materials including free gift display
- A tell-a-friend program
- Check buyback of checks from previous bank
- Mystery shops
- Sales training
What made this program so successful is that most of the work was performed by experienced marketers working for the direct response marketing vendor that created the program.
Fast forward to today, many of the banks and credit unions offering Free Checking have either stopped using the turnkey program or have never used it. Others continue using a modified version. While offering Free Checking still gives them a leg-up over the competition, it does not deliver the volume of new customers available from using an aggressive marketing program of some sort.