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Pre-Emptive Advertising

pre emptive advertising

There’s a method advertisers have used since at least the 1800s. It still works today. This method can separate your financial institution from your competitors in the minds of consumers in your market.

The unfortunate fact most banks and credit unions face is how consumers consider their products and services. Most consumers feel all banks and credit unions offer the same accounts and banking services.

Basically, they do…checking, savings, loans, debit cards, online banking.

In the decades I’ve written advertising promotions for financial institutions, I’ve seen both financial marketers and the executives who run the institutions reluctant to stand out from the crowd. Don’t rock the boat, as the old cliche says.

Instead, they should consider pre-emptive advertising. So let me define pre-emptive advertising by giving you a classic example.

Claude Hopkins is one of the acclaimed marketing strategists in our profession. His short book, Scientific Advertising, is still read by marketers today, even though it was first published in 1924. (You can find copies online by searching for the title.)

Hopkins was hired by Schlitz Brewery in 1919 to promote its product. At the time, the beer was only tenth in sales. Hopkins elevated the brand to first in sales in only six months. He did it with pre-emptive advertising.

Hopkins toured the brewery and asked about the various stages of the process. He found the company drew water from deep artesian wells. They used yeast from a mother cell that came from 2,500 experiments. Beer was re-condensed and redistilled five times for purity. Bottles were cleaned 12 different times.

Hopkins was amazed, especially when he found the processes were typical in the brewing industry. Yet no brewery advertised these aspects because they knew all brewers followed much the same processes.

Hopkins convinced Schlitz to promote its purity processes and position itself as a pure-brewed beer. It did, and vaulted to number one in sales.

The point of the story is this: If consumers believe all financial institutions are the same, much like early twentieth century beer drinkers considered all beer brewing equal, can pre-emptive advertising set your financial institution apart?

What can your bank or credit union promote that, even though your competitors might do the same, will make your financial institution known as the one that is “the home of free checking,” the “24-hour mortgage approval” institution, the “best place in (city, state, region) for your savings,” or any other hook you can produce?

Once you promote the factor you choose, none of your competitors can say, “We’re also the best place for your savings,” or whatever the slogan. You own that title in your market. You’re the first. You can become the “only” in consumers’ minds.

So set aside time and brainstorm with your creative staff. Take a tour of your own facilities and talk to people in other departments. What do you do that, even if it’s commonplace in the banking industry, you can use to set yourself apart?

Try pre-emptive advertising techniques and you may become as successful as a Claude Hopkins client.


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