While giving talks on sales and marketing themes, I frequently share a quote often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: "You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do."
She probably wasn't referring to business dealings. However, I believe the core of her message is especially relevant to folks in sales and marketing occupations.
We marketers and sales teams spend the better parts of our days thinking about the products and services we provide and how we might provide them to customers and potential customers. Consumers spend all day thinking, well, just about anything else.
Customers and potential customers are busy with these things called lives. Without consistent and concerted efforts, we are not likely to be taking up even a moment of their consciousness on any given day.
Recently, Roosevelt's remark hit home when I caught up with a former banking peer and a longtime acquaintance. During our conversation, my old friend realized I had formed my own company a few months back.
I hadn't exactly kept the new company a secret from him. He was the recipient of every announcement, notification and marketing piece that was sent out. If I were to make a list of the folks I figured were absolutely up to speed with my status, my old buddy would have been on that list.
And I would have been totally wrong. Apparently, he hadn't read the messages I had sent. As he apologized, I told him that no apology was needed. In fact, his comments were a helpful reminder. I told him that he was driving home a point I repeatedly make to bankers.
Even the people that you think know quite a bit about you likely know far less than you think. Moreover, what they once knew has likely been forgotten or, just as likely, misremembered.
The interaction with my old friend also reminded me that in a high-tech, ultraconnected world, no marketing efforts are as effective as personal conversations. When you have the opportunity to exchange pleasantries, ask and answer questions and share thoughts, you learn what people are really thinking and feeling. You also tend to make slightly more lasting impressions on them.
Bottom line: Reminding teams just how easy it is for customers and potential customers to be oblivious to a bank's marketing is a healthy thing. Over the years, I've talked with hundreds of frontline bankers who feel they've already done all they can do to promote themselves, their branches and their products.
In their minds, they believe everyone knows who we are and what we do by now. Of course, in reality, that is almost never the case. But bankers believe that their competitors must have better sales offers if sales begin to slow.
Yet banks and bankers do not sell impulse items. Customers are not regularly using up their current bank's products and shopping for replacements. Also, the most sought-after customers out there are not likely to spontaneously try a bank or bank product to see how it works out. There tends to be considerably more thought given and research done before changing financial institutions.
All the while, people's focus and attention are continually drawn to their own lives. It's not that a bank or banker is not worth considering. It is just that the queue of what potential customers need to focus on during any given day is continually shifting.
The longer you go without registering on their radars, the further back in their consideration queue you move. Being familiar to a customer is not the same as being considered by that customer. One is a static state, and the other a dynamic one.
The power of consistently marketing to and following up with customers – including on the phone and in person – is not necessarily that your offer or presentation gets decidedly better on the third, or fifth or ninth contact. Rather, you are simply increasing the odds that your messages coincide with their ability to pay attention.
In an intensely competitive and increasingly commoditized banking world, marketing and sales success hinges as much on constancy and consistency as on creativity.
Dave Martin is the founder of the retail bank performance company bankmechanics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.