Marketing an Old Business in the 21st Century

  • January 29th, 2014
  • Charles H. Green

Bankers using social media to interact with clients

Used to be that “marketing” in business lending meant unlocking the front door of the bank and sitting at a desk as the storekeepers and craftsmen came by, hat in hand, to reverently ask that you consider extending credit to their enterprise. Selling? That was for merchants.

In the 1980s, national banking expansion convinced most bankers that “selling” was a necessary price to grow. In the book E Myth –Why Most Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It (Michael E. Gerber, 1988), Gerber describes “the first quantum leap occurs when you decide you are not in your business, but in the business of marketing your business.”

While that may sound like semantics, it makes a distinctive difference in how you approach the job of selling money. We’re long past the days of cold calling and mailing post card tombstones, as we all did 20 years ago. Those tactics just don’t work any more.

There’s been a paradigm shift around how to market business and as importantly, one’s self. But don’t take my word for it, rather read the answers to some simple questions I asked to a room of young bankers recently:

Q. How many newspapers do you subscribe to?

A:  None.

Q. How many Lion’s Club or Chamber of Commerce functions do you normally attend each quarter?

A: Zero.

Q: How do you primarily communicate your business image to meet prospects?

A: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

It’s not surprising that a recent Pew Research Center survey found that 84 percent of respondents between the ages of 18-29 use Facebook but it might be shocking to learn that so does 60 percent of ages 50-64. The world that is being indelibly shaped around social media.

And it’s important to understand that business owners aren’t waiting for you to find them. Today business owners seeking the shortest path to information means typing the concise question into a search engine. My Google search for “Atlanta SBA loans” yielded 598,000 results, 597,987 of which will rarely be viewed. There were three paid ads at top of the main column (in pink field) and eight smaller paid ads in the right-side column (none based in Atlanta).

Beyond those ads, of the first ten search results that earned Google’s attention, only two Atlanta SBA lenders (Bank of Atlanta, #5 and Quantum Bank, #7) appeared on the first page.

It’s well known that 91.5 percent +/- of search engine traffic ends on page 1.

Kudos to both banks – a click on their links does not go to the bank’s website but rather directly to their SBA product page, complete with contact links to loan officer email addresses. They both recognize that change is afoot and they are positioned to yield advantages as more lender searches move to the internet.

To demonstrate how far most of the other local SBA lenders are behind in this market, for the 4.8 percent of search engine traffic that would have gone to page two and the 1.1 percent on to page three, there were no other Atlanta SBA lenders found. Pity.

Strategies for search engines, social media and website access via tablet and mobile devices are the new norm to market your company and make it easy to be found by client prospects you don’t know.

It’s something to click about.

About the Author

  • Charles H. Green
  • Charles H. Green

Charles H. Green is Managing Director of Small Business Finance Institute, publisher of AdviceOnLoan and a seasoned finance professional with over 30 years of experience funding the small business sector. He founded and served as President/CEO of Sunrise Bank of Atlanta.

He has written extensively about business financing including the bestselling The SBA Loan Book 3rd Edition (Adams Media, 2011) and Get Financing Now (McGraw-Hill, 2012) He earned a B.S. in Finance from the University of Alabama and diploma at the Stonier National Graduate School of Banking.

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