Banks were historically built to look like fortresses or strongholds that would keep their clients’ money safe. But those bland facades and imposing structures don’t exactly make people feel welcome.

Banks, credit unions and other financial institutions are increasingly turning to experiential marketing for that. By going to the fairs, festivals and other places where their customers are located, banks can do several things. That can meet consumers in a place that’s fun and inviting. They can demonstrate that they want to interact with the customers and communities they serve. And they can offer their products and services to individuals and families they might not reach otherwise.

What should banks and financial institutions keep in mind when putting together successful experiential marketing events – or hiring firms like Factory 360 to create activations for them? We offer several tips.

Make the experience resonate with consumers

As a bank or financial institution, you care deeply about things like keeping people’s money safe and helping them make wise decisions with their money. Your boss and shareholders also interested in increasing deposits and getting new accounts.

However, talking about saving, personal finance and opening a checking account is downright boring to many consumers. That’s especially true if they’re at a venue where they’re more focused on listening to music, downing a few beers with friends on keeping their kids busy for a few hours.

You need to meet event-goers in the middle with your experiential marketing event. Can you turn a lesson on personal finance into a game? Provide a meaningful reward for opening a new savings or checking account? Organize an experience that will create a positive association between your brand and consumers?

Doing this may be easier than you think. Successful experiential marketing events are interactive and appeal to all five senses. They can draw connections to people your consumers care about deeply, or be so crazy-fun that people walk away feeling great about your brand.

The magic lies in determining exactly how to do that. That’s where an experiential marketing agency can really help you. For several years Factory 360 has developed fun, interactive activities for Chase Bank at events in communities they serve. They’ve seen great results from making brand experiences that resonate with consumers. On average, they open 240 new checking accounts at every single event.

Partner with another trusted brand

We’re seeing more and more companies work together to pull off successful experiential marketing events. Banks, credit unions and other financial institutions are no exception.

When we started working with PayPal and their PayPal Here program, one of the things we helped them promote were Partner Programs with companies like AT&T and Target. We managed cross-promotional activations to inform Jamba Juice customers that they could pay with PayPal in stores, not just online.

We also organized a “Meet the Speakers, Mobile Office Hours” event in partnership with Uber at a high-profile conference. Participants could get in an Uber car and spent 30 minutes driving around with a conference speaker, giving them an opportunity to ask questions or have a more in-depth conversation. Both events left a strong impression in consumers’ minds and created a position association with PayPal.

Think outside the box

We know banks, credit unions and other financial institutions aren’t exactly know for taking big risks. That’s good when it comes to managing people’s money. But when it comes to experiential marketing campaigns, it’s important to think outside the box… and the vault… and the teller’s booth.

If you want to draw consumers to your experiential marketing event, you have to do something really different. Event marketing is so common these days that many consumers feel they have seen it all and done it all. If you give them something really meaningful, interesting and exciting they are more likely to take the time to visit you.

Think beyond simply having a table at a festival and handing out fliers or tchotchkes. How can you utilize technology to do something really state-of-the-art? Can you leverage local or national celebrities to give people a memorable experience with an influencer? What else can you give them that’s meaningful?

TD Bank is well-known in the financial industry for managing successful experiential marketing activations. One year they did a #TDThanksYou campaign that involved setting up Automated Thanking Machines in several major Canadian cities. Inside the large booths were people who handed out thank you gifts such as cash, flowers and a chance to throw the first pitch at a professional baseball game. Relatively simple, but definitely different from the everyday experience with banks.

Make people feel safe

Even though we said at the beginning that a bank or financial institution’s intimidating presence could be a turn-off to customers, the truth is people still want to feel like you can be trusted with your money. Your experiential marketing event should be cutting edge, or maybe even a little edgy, but it should never be something that makes consumers feel like you’d play games with their resources or information.

Emphasize community investment

Social responsibility is very important to consumers these days. Is there a way you can put your bank’s Community Reinvestment Act activities on display and make that the focus on your experiential marketing event?

Another way experiential marketing campaigns succeed is by drawing a link between your company and the things or issues people care about. If your bank helped pay for the construction of a new arts center, have artists drawing or painting consumers who come to your booth, or actors putting on interactive skits. If you are helping to raise money for homes for disadvantaged children or veterans, tell consumers you will increase your donation to the sponsoring organization if they participate in a simple activity (you can always cap the amount, of course). Show off the things your financial institution is doing to make the community a better place.

Is your bank or financial institution struggling to come up with the perfect experiential marketing event? Or do you simply not have the time or staff to implement your grand ideas? Factory 360 has worked with banks and financial for over a decade. We have all the skills and experience needed to make your activation successful. Please contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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