NASHVILLE - The Bank Marketing Association's annual marketing forum drew to a close this week with a call to embrace the changes reshaping the banking industry or face almost certain extinction.
That means an increasing reliance on electronic banking -something most banks have been doing for some time.
In marketing, it means equally dramatic changes, with advertising campaigns that play well on a computer screen and over the World Wide Web.
Many banks, however, have not gone on-line. "We realize that people are going to want everything better, faster, cheaper," said Tom Bartolomeo, vice president of marketing and strategic planning at First Union Corp., Charlotte, N.C. "The Internet is the way."
First Union, which went on-line in January, found its way to the Internet with the help of Frank Taylor, a computer network consultant and president of TriNet Services in nearby Raleigh, N.C.
Mr. Taylor recommended a mix of cutting-edge computer campaigns and more traditional marketing, saying the day when the Internet will make television and newspaper advertisements obsolete is still way off.
"It's important to combine Internet marketing with traditional marketing," he said. "That really gives you everything."
Mr. Bartolomeo said First Union's goal was to offer all of its services over the Internet. Although he said the bank "stumbled" onto the Internet as it tried to find innovations in credit card marketing, it now is at home on-line.
"We realize that not everyone is going to forgo going to the branch. But there is a population ready for remote banking right now," he said. "So you have to market to them. Whether you're selling hats and T-shirts or you're a bank, there's the possiblity of using the Internet."
First Union hopes to increase its on-line marketing. According to Mr. Bartolomeo, people with computers are just the customers First Union wants.
"Cyberspace will be our cash management services," he said. "It will be our retirement services. It will be everything for us."
Mr. Bartolomeo offered a final reason to market on-line: It's cheaper, he said. "If anything should push a bank's hot button, that's it."