A gray-haired customer walks into a branch. The teller sizes him up and presumes he is the perfect target for the bank’s Senior Perks Checking Account & Retiree Club Package. She makes her pitch and hands him a brochure.

Back at work, 55-year-old executive complains to his colleagues. He calls his wife. He blasts his bank on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. He simmers for days about the “crazy assumptions” the bank made about him. “You go in to make a deposit and come out insulted,” he says. “Just safely hold my money and don’t try to up-sell me.”

The moral: The more information you have about your account holders, the better. Making assumptions can be harmful to your institution’s health.

Although the above is an exaggerated fictional tale, this embarrassing scenario is not too far from reality. When financial institutions market to consumers based on demographic and account information, they have to make assumptions. There just isn’t such a thing as a “representative consumer.”

Two Broad Mindsets

Think about how much more accurate your targeting could be if you had additional insight into how the consumer thinks. If you knew their mindset, i.e. what they would consider truly valuable, you could further refine your segmentation, as well as better focus your messaging and your offers.

An intensive, year-long study funded by Deluxe Corporation revealed that U.S. consumers fall within two broad mindsets when it comes to their banking or credit union relationship.

The first kind of consumer sees you as providing value and is willing to pay you a commensurate fee. They have “jobs to be done” and they require your products to help them achieve their goals.

The second kind of consumer, like the man in the scenario above, is one who just wants you to “eliminate barriers” and let them access their money how and when they want it. They are generally people who want you to provide all your services for cheap – or better yet, free.

 “Jobs-To-Be-Done” Consumers

“Eliminate Barriers” Consumers

  • Open to deeper relationships.
  • View you as helping with goals and aspirations.
  • More interested in offers, discounts and smart-spending ideas.
  • Expect flexibility and preferential treatment.
  • Accept your advice; tap your expertise.
  • Willing to pay for value.
  • Want bare-bones services.
  • Expect free banking.
  • Happy with transactional relationships.
  • Not excited by bells and whistles.
  • Want to be left alone most of the time.
  • Want you to safely hold their money until they need it back.

Satisfying Both Mindsets

If you are mindful about how you structure your business, you can properly and profitably serve consumers of both mindsets – even though they value different things from their bank or credit union.

To serve the Jobs-To-Be-Done consumers, consider the work of Clayton Christiansen, Harvard Business School professor and author. According to Christiansen, “When people need to get a job done, they hire a product or service to do it for them. The marketer's task is to understand what jobs periodically arise in customers' lives for which they might hire products the company could make.”

When Deluxe’s research group talked with consumers about the “jobs to be done” concept, the idea of “hiring a product” really clicked. Consumers acknowledged that they would find value in being able to  hire  your products to help them make college a reality, keep their money safe,  optimize their savings, enable cash flow, or get the kitchen they have always wanted.

The Eliminate Barriers consumers are people who do not think about your products as a means to helping them get their jobs done. They will not respond to persistent cross-selling efforts, relationship-building tactics, or over-promotion of account perks. If you could identify people with the Eliminate Barriers mindset, you could stop over-servicing and over-spending on them.

Because this group thrives on convenience and easy access, you might consider transitioning your Eliminate Barriers consumers to a more self-service, technology-based relationship. Technology, including ATMs, smart phone and tablet applications, mobile and online banking, will quickly handle their transactions anytime, anywhere, without annoying them.

What Next?

The race is on to find business models that will revitalize banking for consumers as well as financial institutions. In Deluxe’s research, mindset marketing showed great promise in its potential to improve differentiation, attract profitable households, and increase account values. If these are among your goals, then mindset marketing is definitely worthy of further investigation.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.