Liberty Financial Bank Group has launched a marketing campaign that targets bank customers who need advice on investing for a child's college education.

The Boston-based company, which helps about 100 banks manage and market their brokerage units, has spent close to $200,000 on marketing tools for banks - including posters for branches and training kits to help branch employees identify appropriate customers.

"One of the major opportunities before banks is helping their customers plan for the costs of a college education," said Porter Pierpont Morgan, president of Liberty Financial Bank Group.

Targeting college savers is but one of the many ways that Liberty and its competitors are trying to help banks generate increased sales and fees from mutual funds, annuities, and other investment products.

These firms, which also supply banks with brokers, technology support, and various investment products, have a large stake in a bank's brokerage unit and want to make sure its being promoted.

Plus, many devise a basic marketing package of brochures, generic letters to customers, newspaper advertisements, and posters that they can customize for each bank client.

"It's obviously much more efficient for us to develop stuff that can be used in one hundred banks than it is for each bank to incur the cost and do it on their own," Mr. Morgan said.

PrimeVest Financial Services, St. Cloud, Minn., has begun developing themes for each fiscal quarter that banks can build marketing campaigns around, said Mary Belisle, advertising coordinator.

In the fourth quarter, the company plans to launch a campaign that encourages mutual fund investing as a gift for upcoming holidays.

But Ms. Belisle said campaigns about a specific need, such as college education planning, don't always register with novice investors who don't know what they need until they talk to a broker.

"Our reps in the field tell us they need something broader because most people need a basic education first," she said.

The fall is also when Invest Financial Corp., Tampa, sends out its annual marketing plan, which includes a two-inch-thick binder of all the various marketing support the company offers.

College planning is one of a number of themes a bank can build an advertising campaign around, said an Invest spokeswoman.

Liberty's current marketing campaign, dubbed "The College Club," is intended to help banks attract two different customer bases, parents who would invest over a long period of time, and grandparents who might dump a large sum in a mutual fund.

Mr. Morgan called the campaign the most complete "in terms of all the goodies we're making available to banks."

As part of the campaign, banks will receive the standard marketing trinkets, including "Join The College Club!" posters to put in their lobbies. Liberty is also supplying display placards to put on employees' desks, and generic letters to bank customers.

In addition, Liberty has designed a "College Cost Calculator" that helps investors figure how much they will need to save, based on their time horizon and estimated rate of inflation.

Liberty is supplying a 15-page coloring book for children who come to the bank with their parents, and a financial trivia test on computer disk.

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