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How to Be a Trusted Voice Behind Your Bank’s Brand

Digital Marketing

How to Be a Trusted Voice Behind Your Bank’s Brand

Eric Cook by Eric Cook

Chief Digital Strategist

Contact author Full biography

Full biography

Eric considers himself a “recovering banker” of 15 years, who for the past eleven years has focused his efforts as a digital strategist, helping his clients (mostly community banks) better understand and leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool. An award-winning web designer with WSI, the world’s largest digital agency network, Eric is a two-time contributing author to the best-selling book Digital Minds – 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Consistently rated in the top five digital marketing books on Amazon, the book is in its second edition and available in three languages.

A sought-after, nationally-recognized speaker in the financial services industry, Eric is a member of the National Speakers Association and loves sharing his knowledge to help educate and inspire others. He is the co-creator of a weekly webinar show called Free Webinar Wednesdays, founder of the Banker Education Series webinar series, and serves as a faculty member at several banking schools around the country where he teaches bankers about digital strategy, online marketing and social media. He is a WSI Certified LinkedIn Professional and holds undergraduate degrees in business administration and psychology. While working full-time as a community banker, Eric earned his MBA and completed the three-year Graduate School of Banking program in Madison, WI in 2003.

Professionally, Eric helps his clients in all areas of digital marketing, which includes mobile-responsive web development, search engine marketing and optimization, social media strategies, e-mail communication, and “big-picture” digital strategic planning. He’s the co-founder of, a service created to help businesses understand their risk when it comes to operating in today’s digital world. When he’s not helping his clients succeed online, he can typically be found on one of his many bicycles training for his next mountain bike/triathlon race or spending time with his wife and two (very spoiled) golden retrievers.



Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend my fifth Social Media Marketing World in sunny San Diego. I’ve been a huge fan of Social Media Examiner, the organizer of the event, and again came away with a ton of great info. One of the many areas worth sharing was a session on how businesses can become a trusted voice by using a “behind the brand” strategy and leveraging transparency and open communication. Here are my tips on how to become “that trusted voice” behind your marketing channels for your community bank!

How to Be a Trusted Voice

Marcus Sheridan shared the 7 keys to making magical, trust-building content. He stressed that, in order to become a trusted voice, you must be willing to do three things: talk about and show what others don’t in your space and sell in a way that others won’t. 

1. Talk About Who You Are and Aren’t a Fit For

When you talk openly about who you are and aren’t a good fit for, you’re doing your business a favor. Instead of wasting your time with a client who’s not going to be a great fit, you can spend your time and money finding a better-suited choice. 

Creating a page about who you are and aren’t a good fit for is a great way to make a show of good faith and be open about questions most businesses wouldn’t want to talk about. See the example below from RetroFoam of Michigan:
Retro Foam Example

In the banking world, you can work towards segmenting your ideal customers with focused content and learning material that is relevant to your ideal audience. Want to attract more first-time mortgage customers to capture relationships at the early stage and let them “grow up” with the bank? Provide information that would be attractive to this demographic and when visitors consume your content it will be apparent who you are focused on serving. You can do the same for business clients, the older generation looking to retire, etc. 

2. Be Transparent About Pricing

It’s amazing how many businesses online don’t talk about pricing, costs, and rates. Have you ever been on a site and wondered how much something costs, only to be presented with the “click here to receive a price quote”. Yeah, not a fan of those either.

Imagine if you visited Amazon and none of the prices were shown and you had to call and talk with a friendly Amazon team member to get the price. Nobody would do that. Yet many are afraid to provide even price ranges for different services they provide. As Marcus says, “If you don’t teach them about pricing, who will?”

Certainly, price is only one element that’s being considered in the buying decision. Make your value proposition clear, and as much as you can, provide real up-front pricing rather than making your potential customers request a quote. 

So, to make this relevant to the banking world, one of the conversations we have with banks all the time when building their new website is whether or not to include deposit or loan interest rates on their website. On one hand, if the bank does not have the best rates in the market, but excels in providing superior service, there’s a fear that a low deposit rate (or high loan rate) will scare away potential customers.

But the reality is many people expect to see rate information on their bank’s website. So if you’re not going after customers with a rate strategy, you’ll want to include other confidence-building content on these rate pages to promote the other types of “value” your bank brings to the table for your customers (great service, digital convenience, local decision making, etc.). 

3. Disarm Them

When you’re transparent about pricing and can provide an unbiased comparison, you’ll disarm them. Allowing the customer to make a decision rather than trying to talk them into it makes you a more trusted source of information. 

List the advantages and disadvantages of your products or services and then back off and let the customer decide. Today’s marketing is all about the buying process, not about sales. 

In the banking world, there are a lot of variables that go into the cost of a loan, for example. Sure, you’ve got the interest rate which at the onset may seem pretty straightforward. But consumers may not understand the impact of fees, “points,” or other charges that can end up costing them much more in the long run. Showing customers how to achieve an “apples to apples” comparison is a great way to be transparent in your “pricing” and earn the trust of the visitor. 

4. Show Your “Secret Sauce”

Marcus believes that some “trade secrets” shouldn’t exist, and encourages companies to show their secret sauce. If you can show clients how things are done or be more transparent about the process up-front, it will go a long way in establishing trust. 

We’ve got one bank customer who asked us to build a special calculator that would actually show the visitor when they could save money with a lower rate and term by adding a bit more to their down payment amount. By lowering the LTV (loan-to-value) ratio and putting more down on deposit, the calculator automatically reduces the rate and changes the payment amount (and shows just how much they are saving). A simple $3,000 addition to a down payment could result in thousands of dollars in savings over the life of a 30-year mortgage! 

5. Compare without Bias

If you aren’t willing to compare your competition without bias, potential clients will do it outside of your website. Instead, mention the facts about each option available to them, and be positive about the good points of each company. By doing this, you can control conversations in your space while building trust with your potential clients. 

For a community bank, you can talk about the difference between banking at a fintech or neobank vs. banking in a community bank. Granted, some of the providers that are “app-only” and online may have better rates (primarily because their cost structure is different), and to some customers that may be ideal. But to others who value the extra perks a community bank has to offer, that will help them further identify with you and get excited about becoming a customer.

6. Talk about the Negatives

Any negative aspects of your product or service could be the elephant in the room. No one wants to talk about the “bad stuff” - but by being open and talking about it, you take back your power. Plus, by talking about the negatives everyone is asking about, you’ll have the potential to show up in search engine results and further build trust with potential clients by being one of the only ones out there willing to talk about it. 

As a banker, you can create content discussing some of the “Problems with refinancing” to address common refinancing issues - or share stories of when customers (unfortunately) fell victim to financial scams. Sure, we don’t like thinking of these scenarios - but it gives you a chance to share how you were there to help fix the issue For more ideas, search the phrase “problems with _______” and add the financial service of your choice to see what people are saying about it (and then come up with your answers). 

7. Show It, Don’t Just Say It

The way to establish trust with current and potential clients is to do more than say that you’re a trusted bank. You need to show it by the way that you interact with them and how you deliver on the overall customer experience. 

Use the tips we’ve provided above to foster a more authentic and transparent relationship with your clients and we think you’ll like what happens next! 

Need Some Help? We’re Here for You!

To become a trusted voice, it takes diligence and time - time that you may not have as a busy community banker. 

If you’d like your community bank to make a greater impact in the digital world but aren’t sure where to start, talk with me. I’d be happy to help you come up with an effective digital strategy that will provide you with the steps you need to build out a powerful brand message that helps to set you apart from the crowd. 


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