Treasury management is transforming from a back-office service function to a front-line sales engine for financial institutions. Many treasury leaders recognize the need to implement technology, hire top talent and enhance the customer experience to propel treasury management into the future; however, just as many neglect one of the most important factors in treasury management success: marketing. Here’s why marketing needs to be upfront in treasury management transformation, plus steps banks can take to bolster treasury marketing efforts.
How marketing is critical to treasury management transformation
Promoting treasury management’s value to commercial customers and prospects is essential to attracting, retaining and deepening customer relationships. If treasury is to drive revenue, it must market its benefits both externally and internally.
Compete with Fintech
It’s no secret Fintech presents a formidable challenge to treasury management. Fintech companies have adopted a “consumer mindset” that prioritizes technology, usability, automation and accessibility. Primed to succeed in the digital era of “now,” exciting Fintech start-ups can make traditional banks seem mundane in comparison.
Even when banks implement new technologies or partner with Fintech firms to deliver an enhanced customer experience, it’s difficult to compete without a strong marketing strategy. FIs need to adopt the same consumer mindset and apply it to marketing if they are to attract and retain customers who might otherwise flock to Fintech – and if they are to avoid the very real threat of digital dwarfism.
Communicate complex product benefits
Treasury management products can be complex, so it’s critical for banks to effectively communicate their benefits to the end user. In other words, FIs need to clarify their value propositions.
Marketing helps differentiate an FI and extend treasury management’s value proposition. Strong and clear marketing is especially important as treasury becomes more technology-driven; new solutions are far more complex to communicate than traditional offerings.
Many times, FI staff struggle to “translate” these capabilities into clear business needs and benefits, which can hamper sales efforts. Marketing excels at helping corporate customers truly understand the tremendous benefits, cost and time savings that treasury services can bring to a business.
For example, if treasury implements paperless onboarding, it must communicate the value of that feature’s time-saving convenience to potential customers. If it offers remote deposit capture or integrated receivables, it must illustrate how those features ultimately benefit the end user.
Identify and sell new opportunities
A robust marketing function can become a strategic partner to business, fueling sales opportunities and product development efforts. Marketing can analyze and segment customer data, as well as conduct voice of customer research. This intelligence helps treasury focus the right messages and product offers on the most receptive audience segments.
By gaining a clear understanding of exactly what customers need and desire, banks can develop products designed to deliver an intuitive customer experience. When marketed effectively, those products can attract new customers, “upsell” existing customers and ultimately deepen customer relationships.
Support sales staff
Many financial institutions have dedicated treasury sales staff; however, sales personnel can only close leads that are delivered to them. Without a strong marketing strategy, the number of potential sales is limited.
Marketing is a fundamental first step toward sales. Treasury marketing should work to generate, nurture and funnel warm leads to sales teams. Indeed, prospects should be “sold” by the time they meet with sales personnel, a philosophy that has the potential to improve sales volume exponentially.
Not all marketing is directed toward potential customers; treasury must also market internally if it is to realize its full potential. Educating its own staff as well as colleagues in other departments about treasury’s product offerings funnels even more prospects toward treasury management services.
Every commercial relationship is an opportunity for a treasury management sale, whether the customer is currently engaged with commercial lending or some other banking department. The better other department staff understand treasury management services, the more likely – and perhaps more willing – they are to refer their customers. Marketing plays an integral role in internal collaboration.
Elevate treasury’s status
Internal marketing can also be employed to elevate treasury’s status within the financial institution. Treasury marketing can share success stories, celebrate wins and – more importantly – demonstrate how treasury management can improve KPI-based metrics and can increase overall revenue.
When executive leadership recognizes the enormous potential of treasury as a sales engine, it can justify allocating the resources treasury needs to implement new technologies, hire top talent and grow. Internal marketing helps elevate treasury’s status, so it gets a seat at the table for strategic organizational decisions, and it also frees funds for the external marketing efforts needed to promote treasury services.
Attract and retain top talent
Financial institutions are losing the talent wars to the Fintech “cool factor.” Indeed, it’s tough to compete with flexible hours, casual dress codes, ping pong tables and even craft beer. However, forward-thinking banks can offer benefits Fintechs do not: long-term stability, mentorship and opportunities for career advancement.
Marketing can communicate these advantages to prospective employees to turn the tide and attract top talent to treasury. When banks can compete for the brightest young minds, they can build self-sustaining treasury departments capable creating innovative products that captivate customers.
Marketing is a vehicle that drives revenue for treasury management. It’s the mechanism that can enable treasury management to improve an FI’s bottom line, and it’s a critical cog to proving treasury’s value to bank leadership.
More (and better) marketing generates more (and better) leads, which yields greater deposit volume and increased fee-based income. Marketing, then, is the catalyst that ultimately enables treasury management to provide value for financial institutions.
How treasury management can bolster marketing efforts
There’s no doubt marketing drives treasury management leads, sales, customer acquisition and revenue. Treasury leaders can adopt these practices to bolster their marketing efforts to those ends.
Partner with marketing
First and foremost, treasury leaders should reach out to their FI’s marketing department. The marketing department can help articulate the right message and broadcast it to existing customers and prospective clients.
Not only that, but marketing can help build lead generation and nurturing systems that segue to sales. A spirit of collaboration is important; the better treasury educates the marketing department, the better the marketing department can position treasury’s message for success.
Marketing department functions might include:
- Product marketing to articulate the value that complex treasury management solutions provide
- Building broader awareness of treasury management capabilities both inside and outside the organization
- Assistance with targeted prospecting and lead generation
- Lead nurturing and lead delivery to sales teams using marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) tools
The marketing department, then, should be viewed as a partner that can foster both external and internal marketing success. Treasury must involve marketing resources (either internal or outside contractors or agencies) in planning sessions and sales meetings so they can identify and utilize the right marketing tools to achieve treasury objectives. Aligning both teams around the same goals will result in better communications and healthier results.
Think beyond events
Too often, treasury views marketing with a limiting mentality. Gone are the days when conference fliers and banners are enough; effective marketing is far more than a tactical afterthought for sponsorships and events. In other words, treasury marketing can no longer be passive.
Treasury should launch aggressive marketing initiatives that reach contemporary customers in their preferred environments, whether that’s digital marketing on mobile devices, email lead nurturing, artificially intelligent chatbots or presentation kits distributed at sales meetings. The marketing team should account for a demographic shift, as today’s CFO’s and corporate leaders are younger than ever and heavily influenced by the Apples and Instagrams of the world.
Actively promote treasury management capabilities
Fintechs excel at building their brands in the marketplace. To compete, FIs must raise the profile of the organization and boost awareness of treasury management capabilities, both externally and internally.
Branding is a key phrase; customers recognize and respond to brands, so treasury should work with marketing to identify and establish a strong brand image that resonates with its core customer base. Branching out, branding should also be applied to products that are developed to serve specific customer segments.
Strengthen product marketing
Treasury should establish a dedicated product development group that analyzes the marketing department’s research and creates products designed to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Then, it should return to marketing to help promote the product’s benefits to existing customers and prospective clients.
This role bridges the gap between product development and the business, providing market sizing, pricing and, most importantly, communication that articulates the value that complex treasury management solutions provide.
Generate and nurture leads
For sales to thrive, it needs marketing to lay the groundwork for acquiring new customers and deepening customer relationships. That includes identifying prospects, segmenting audiences, identifying attractive industry verticals and generating leads.
Marketing efforts do not stop at lead generation: Lead nurturing is a critical function for long-term treasury success. Treasury leaders can partner with marketing departments to manage the flow of information in marketing automation or CRM tools. Automated email campaigns can be established to foster trust and customer confidence over time and to funnel audiences toward the best treasury management products for their needs. Calls to action can then be delivered at the right time to cultivate a steady stream of sales.
Document and report
Treasury would be wise to document the end-to-end customer experience and report results (and wins) to executive leadership as well as staff organization wide. Treasury leaders should establish KPIs and track metrics. Then, in collaboration with the marketing department, treasury can track the customer journey from introduction/referral through lead nurturing to sales; in doing so, it can prove the value treasury brings to the FI as well as the critical role marketing plays in sales success.
That, in turn, helps elevate treasury’s position within the organization, lends a perception of treasury significance and empowers the department to play a greater role in strategic decision-making.
Partner with HR
As noted, the ability to hire and retain top talent is critical to long-term treasury management success. Marketing plays a crucial role in communicating the benefits of bank employment so FIs can compete with the Fintech cool factor. Once that message is crafted, treasury and marketing should partner with human resources – which is often tasked with posting employment opportunities and interview candidates.
It stands to reason, then, that treasury and marketing should collaborate to give HR the materials and messages it needs to attract the top talent treasury management requires to develop innovative products and compete.
Competition from Fintechs, shrinking margins and the war for low-cost commercial deposits are spurring treasury management to transform from a back-office support group to a revenue driver for financial institutions. Developing innovative technology products, hiring top talent and elevating treasury’s role within the organization are imperative if treasury is complete a successful transformation; however, those initiatives aren’t enough on their own.
Treasury must also partner with marketing to craft a robust strategy designed to captivate customers, attract top talent and communicate treasury’s new role if it is to successfully complete its transformation and reach its potential as a valuable function of any financial institution.
The information provided in this blog does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice.
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