Developing an Effective Marketing Plan for a Bank

Bank Marketing


As a team member of Sycorr, a technology consulting firm focusing on the banking industry, I have been excited to learn more about the business side of the industry we serve. Because we are not a bank, I selected a client of ours, Bell State Bank & Trust, to focus on for this paper. Although Bell State Bank & Trust is a client, I did not have access to any confidential information, thereby gathering goals and data by interviews with key bank employees, and pulling publically available information. To remain consistence, all of my data has been pulled as of December 31, 2014.
Bell State Bank & Trust, a privately held bank headquartered in Fargo, North Dakota, was founded in 1966 by the Snortland family.

The bank is still owned by a relatively small group of shareholders, with Richard Solberg now the majority owner. Despite the fact that the bank has been in existence for nearly 50 years, the last eleven years have been in clear growth mode. Beginning with the purchase of a trust company in 2003, the bank’s momentum has been noticeably increasing, including: doubling the number of branches, implementing a Health Savings Account division, purchasing a few smaller banks and two large mortgage companies, and most recently expanding to the Minneapolis, Minnesota market.

That growth leads us to today where Bell State Bank & Trust currently has 3.14 billion dollars in assets, 22 bank branches. The foundation of Bell State Bank & Trust is still geographically in the Fargo – Moorhead area, although there has been a strong investment in Western Minnesota market. The past three years have been the most significant with the purchase of Bell Mortgage, Prime Mortgage, and the Business Bank, which not only rocketed Bell State Bank & Trust to the number one Mortgage originator in North Dakota and Minnesota, but also added over thirty mortgage offices within the Bell Mortgage brand to Minneapolis. With a desire to leverage the “Bell” name in the Minneapolis market, the entire organization rebranded to “Bell State Bank & Trust” in early 2011.

Bell State Bank & Trust has a fairly traditional community bank marketing strategy. The typical process includes picking a message and blanketing that message across traditional media. It is not uncommon to see a combination of direct mail, billboards, print ads, and some radio spots with a similar message across all mediums. Occasionally for some lines of business, correspondent banking for example, the marketing team puts together specific marketing pieces for events such as conferences for sales staff. These are considered one off projects and are driven off of requests from the individual departments.

The Bell State Bank & Trust brand is built on three major tenants: 1) great customer services, 2) great people, and 3) status of an independent/community bank. These elements are supported by their values and bottom line (mission statement).


  • Promoting and sustaining our family atmosphere.
  • Providing unequaled personal service to each and every customer.
  • “Paying it forward” by giving back to the communities we serve.

For the purposes of this intersession project, I have been asked to focus on a non-traditional marketing campaign for increasing small to medium business accounts in the Minneapolis market. With Bell State Bank & Trust fairly new to the market they currently rank forty-five for overall deposits sitting at a little over 172 million. They would like to leverage the “Bell” name and its recent acquisitions in the business banking space as a foundation to expand on. The leadership is interested in exploring other methods of marketing due to the newer entry into the area and much larger geographical size compared to their current traditional campaigns.

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Situation Analysis

Market Focus

Per the request of Bell State Bank & Trust’s leadership we will be focusing on small to medium businesses in the Minneapolis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). We have defined small to medium businesses as any for profit organization less than 500 employees. According to the US Census Bureau’s Statistics of US Businesses October 2014 report there are 64,053 eligible businesses that meet our requirement. Within that total there are 50,535 businesses under twenty employees.

Due to the non-traditional focus of the campaign, we will be leveraging various online tools such as social media, online ad networks, remarketing technologies, landing pages, online account opening applications, data mining, and some online promotions.

The messaging for the marketing campaigns will focus on two central themes. The first theme will focus on businesses frustration with fees for financial services. Since Bell State Bank & Trust regularly shops the competition in an effort to keep their fees lower as a strategic initiative, we will leverage that positioning in our messaging. The marketing team is keen on this message as they have found it to be effective against the larger financial institutions.

The second message will tie into the “Bell” brand by connecting back to how Bell has been part of the Minneapolis history and grew with the city. Due to the purchase of Bell Mortgage in 2011, the bank can now tie itself to a 130-year history within the region. This messaging should help to penetrate the “big banks” as a complementary message by creating the feeling of a community.

Product Focus

The product focus will be on bank based business solutions. Specifically we will highlight checking, lines of credits, loans, and online banking tools; although we will show more advanced products for clients that have more of a specialty need.

Similar to other successful Bell State Bank & Trust marketing campaigns, we will lead with the “America’s Best Free Checking for Business” product to grab some attention. We will then guide the users though a simple to use a microsite that will qualify and segment the lead to either open their accounts online or have a business banker contact them regarding products they are interested in.

Marketing Objectives

As a new comer with limited branch locations within the Minneapolis MSA we are looking to use this marketing plan to gain awareness of the Bell State Bank & Trust brand. Specifically we would like to highlight the great customer service of a local community bank that has the resources to offer the types of specialty financial products businesses need.

Marketing Goals

The goals for this campaign are the following:
1. Increase the number of business accounts with their primary branch in the Minneapolis MSA by BLANK.
2. Add BLANK in business loans within the Minneapolis MSA.
3. Increase the LinkedIn followers by 1,000.
4. Increase Twitter followers by 250.

Although we would like all our social media accounts to increase in followers, we feel the primary focus should be LinkedIn and Twitter as they have more of a business focus.

Sales and Marketing Strategies and Action Plans

Sales and marketing strategies are very crucial in any organization since they determine sales and the future of that company. To drive significant outcomes from Bell State Bank & Trust marketing, they have decided to close the gap between marketing and sales objectives as well as centralizing the plans. The main objective is to come up with an integrated strategy that mirror the stages of client purchasing process, while considering the time lag and rates of conversion in decision making and reflecting the contribution of marketing and sales to gain new clients and generate revenues.

Bell State Bank & Trust is a company with active sales teams and centralized marketing function. Bell State Bank and Trust use the following approach to come up with a solid sales and marketing plan.

Business objectives

Bell State Bank & Trust is committed to its employees, customers and community, as reflected by its bottom line statement “happy employees, happy customers”. Bell State Bank & Trust aims to remain as the leader in the market by being the first to offer new products. The bank has a history of unchanging commitment to its customers, including provision of personalized service and the latest investment offerings. The use of next-generation technology will provide great insight to the bank, extra time to spend on the tactical elements of working with customers and additional fruitful investment management setting. Furthermore, the investment modeling capacities of the platform will enable the bank to expand their use of model portfolios as well as scaling up their business.

Target market

Bell State Bank & Trust offers its services to everyone ranging from one-person shop up to large corporations. They offer accounts, loans and services to help individuals and large corporations to expand their businesses as well as appropriate management of cash flow. Bell State Bank & Trust target customers looking for checking account, saving accounts, certificates of deposit (CDS), individual retirement accounts (IRAs), auto loans, home equity loans, Health savings accounts (HSAS), personal loans, mortgage, private banking, farm management, investment management and financial planning. Bell State Bank & Trust is known to offer America’s best free checking account.

There is no free checking account can beat the “frees” given by Bell State Bank & Trust. It is also very easy to choose the account that suits the customer’s needs. Customers are able to open free checking account with Bell State Bank & Trust with no service charge or minimum balance.

In addition to easy account opening, Bell State Bank & Trust has experienced workers who help clients with quick transfer of balances, direct deposits and automatic payments. The bank ensures everything runs smoothly by employing experienced bankers and has expanded their customer service. Bell wealth management program is also another crucial to clients since it keep them comfortable and well informed with their investments.

ell State Bank & Trust wide assortment of services and products provide customers with a lifetime of investment solutions. This include proficient investment management services for institutional assets, including special purpose corporate funds, endowments, pension funds as well as insurance reserve funds; estate and trust planning services to individuals; individual retirement accounts (IRAs); in addition to non-qualified and qualified employee benefit curriculums including 401 (k)s to employers across Canada and United States.

Definition of a solution

Bell State Bank & Trust major challenge was to expand into new ventures with limited branches and lack of ATM, in addition to offering a fresh product that will enable the bank to maintain its position as the leader in the market. The use of mobile source capture has helped the bank to solve these challenges. The existing and new clients are able to deposit checks from diverse locations using their smartphones. This program has enabled the bank to boost mobile user operations as well as guiding the growth of mobile deposits.

Bell State Bank & Trust has also chosen FoliDynamix as the framework for its latest UMA programs as well as wealth management technology platform. According to chairman and CEO of FoliDynamix, this was a very imperative move by Bell State Bank & Trust; since any financial organization seeking to expand their wealth management business would choose FolioDynamix. FolioDynamix has an ability to offer a truly integrated enterprise podium for a full wealth advisory lifecycle, in combination with trust advisory program and proficiency strategies. FolioDynamix provides the most inclusive web-based technology podium for managing the entire wealth advisory lifecycle across all types of accounts.

These wealth advisory lifecycle include performance analytics, portfolio accounting, reporting, onboarding and proposal, trade order management and research model management. FolioDynamix offers the best wealth management technology as compared to others since it is absolutely developed, supported and hosted by FolioDynamix and thus empower advisors as well as eliminating silos using a single podium to govern all consumer accounts. This platform will be very significant to Bell State Bank & Trust since it will provide it with apposite technology enhance their client service, attract and retain advisors, better compliance, gain absolute control of assets under management for improved efficiency, as well as acceleration of client acquisition.

Strategic position

Bell State Bank & Trust is famous for its friendly service and consistency in their services. It is also known as the America’s Best free checking account. Customers are able to open Bell State Bank & Trust checking accounts easily which has no service charges or minimum balance requirement. They offers free visa gift cards, free check blanks, free ATMs nationwide, free online and mobile banking, free debit card with change saver as well as free identity theft recovery. The bank has provided commission-free wealth management services to their clients since 1987. Bell State Bank & Trust attribute its growth to solid consumer service as well as referrals from current customers.

They offer an assortment of products and services that provide a lifetime of investment solutions to their customers. They also provide useful resources that keep their customers well informed and comfortable with their investments. Bell State Bank & Trust help clients in their financial journey by guiding, planning and offering solutions that meet their financial requirements. Bell State Bank & Trust wealth management personnel offer newsletters regarding top investments, U.S. and worldwide markets, financial planning, retirement issues and personal trust.

This is a strategy that has enabled the Bank to experience gradual growth and now seek to expand to new markets. Bell State Bank & Trust cash management personnel provide appropriate skills to help clients identify the equipment that will generate a resourceful cash flow. Bell also have a dedicated credit squad and corresponding banking that provide customers with flexible terms, underwriting and loan pricing in addition to swift decision-making that customers require.

Bell staffs are excited to offer mobile deposit services which have attracted many customers since its inception. Bell also markets its services on social media; website among many others which can is a significant strategy that has ensured tremendous growth of the bank. Integration of the signature bank podium with mobile banking, check processing solutions and online banking from Fiserv has aided Bell State Bank & Trust to get rid of duplicate deposits and curtail fraud.

Partnership with Fiserv supports Bell success since it has attracted new clients, helping successful expansion in new ventures, maintained market stance over its competition, abridged possibility with the duplicate deposit feature available in a single source capture podium, and increased mobile deposits from hundreds to thousands in the first month. However, although Bell have 20 full-service bank locations in North Dakota, Wahpeton and Fargo, Moorhead, Hawley, Detroit lakes, Dilworth, Fergus Falls, Dilworth, Minnesota, Minneapolis and Alexandria it has remained as a regional bank which denies it an opportunity of expanding like other banks. Regional banks might provide real choices and alternatives to consumer’s financial services, but they do so at a competitive advantage.

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