The Power Of Testing

“Brand Aware” explores the data-driven digital ad ecosystem from the marketer’s point of view.

Today’s column is written by Maha Madain, head of marketing at Union Bank.

How does the marketing of a regional brand with a limited budget win in a market dominated by national brands?

That’s the challenge that many organizations face today. Resources are limited, and priorities are vast. Like other regional banks, share of voice for Union Bank has historically been dwarfed by the large brands with three to four times our marketing spend. To make an impact, we knew we would have to get creative while remaining grounded in data and insights.

Our journey began by assessing and understanding where we stood in the market in terms of brand health, perception and differentiation. Based on research, we confirmed that our strengths and focus on being client-obsessed did indeed matter to our target audiences.

However, the research also uncovered a big challenge: a lack of awareness and differentiation for our brand outside of our client base. While our existing clients are highly engaged and perceive us as different from the pack, Union Bank is often overlooked by those considering a new financial services partner.

Improving brand awareness and sales on a tight budget

To do more with less, we first decided to concentrate our marketing spend in one market. The objective was to deliver a strong share of voice rather than a generic peanut butter approach that would spread our efforts and resources across multiple geographies, ultimately with less impact.

Next, we identified the best test market that would provide scalable learnings. For us, that was San Diego – a large enough market with ample target clients, but with reasonable media costs and relatively neutral brand health. With San Diego selected, we then optimized our production spend to deliver creative assets that could flex across multiple channels and deliver a variety of messages.

What we delivered was a 360-degree campaign that included digital marketing, TV commercials, radio spots, out of home and even a new smart prospect site that supported the new brand and drove conversion. All of this was supported and amplified by PR, social media, a new brand voice, training and a new style guide and attire for our local employees that was on point with our newly evolved brand.

Outcomes in San Diego

Five months after launching the campaign, we experienced more than 50% growth in the number of new clients joining the bank in the San Diego market compared to the same period the year before.

We also saw a large year-over-year lift in other key business metrics, including checking and home loans, all of which we closely continue to monitor.

While we are early into the test and continue to absorb and act on the learnings, we’ve already identified a few key takeaways.

First, we learned the value of getting senior leadership to buy in early. By focusing the investment and the learnings while providing a clear road map to measuring performance, they are more likely to provide support.

We also learned that we needed to surgically test and go deep vs. going broad right away. This helped us to ensure that our resources were maximized while also delivering measurable learnings for optimization and scalability.

Senior leadership buy-in was critical, but it was also vital to get our associates excited about our efforts and test; local buy-in goes a long way to ensure success.

Finally, by limiting the test geography, it’s possible to operate with more agility, have more opportunities to measure outcomes and, as a result, have more chances to course correct.

But this is only the beginning. With what we’ve delivered and learned, we now have a methodical and analytical approach to make a future business case for expanding into additional markets and delivering more revenue for the business.

Follow Union Bank (@UnionBank) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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