Eastern Bank is proving a community bank can use technology to drive a personal connection with its customers at a time when branch transactions continue to decrease.
In 2015, the more than 200-year-old mutual thrift launched a campaign to create videos — some filmed on smartphones — that pull on viewers' heartstrings and are distributed on social media sites. The company had casually made videos in the past, but decided to make it a formal part of its marketing strategy as it plotted ways to connect with the people of New Hampshire, a market it entered through an acquisition in 2014.
"We wanted to make a big splash," said Andrew Ravens, a spokesman for the $9.6 billion-asset bank. "It was one of several tactics to say, 'Hello, Granite State.' "
The novel marketing twist from the community bank serves as an attempt to endear consumers to the bank brand and comes as more and more consumers watch videos online.
The video that garnered the most buzz aired in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl last year, where the New England Patriots played the Seattle Seahawks. In the video, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski teamed up with businessman and philanthropist Edward Smith to deliver a couch to a single parent in need. Smith was a bank customer and the much-loved Gronk was hired by Eastern to surprise others in footage that was intended to illustrate the bank's commitment to local businesses and its customers. The video got press in Fox Sports, the Boston Globe and The Washington Post.
The long-form, feel-good video content — part of the bank's "Good Things Happen" video series — is an attempt to resonate with consumers and to package content to media members in a way that's modern.
"The primary goal is brand awareness," Ravens said.
And unlike TV ads — which the bank still runs — the cost to distribute online videos is much cheaper.
Among the challenges of exploring the self-made video, however, is quickly cutting what could easily be a 50-minute video into 90 seconds. "You're fighting the urge to make it perfect," Ravens said.
Besides connecting with customers, the videos are also intended to catch the attention of the media, too. Ravens said he believes the press is more receptive to company news when accompanied by compelling art or video.
That's one of the reasons more banks will likely adopt videos as a way to spread their news, he said.
"I think moving forward in 2016 and beyond, you will find more and more companies filming what they are doing," Ravens said.