What's Truly Different About Your FI?

PREDICTABLE LOGO COLORS, COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY, SIMILAR PRODUCT OFFERINGS - YOUR FINANCIAL INSTITUTION IS SWIMMING IN A SEA OF SAMENESS. WITH SO MUCH IN COMMON WITH YOUR COMPETITORS, HOW DO YOU TRULY SINGLE OUT WHAT MAKES YOUR FI UNIQUE? MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOW DO YOU COMMUNICATE THAT DIFFERENCE?

Perhaps you are familiar with the board game Guess Who?  It’s a popular game, quick and straightforward, that was first introduced nearly 40 years ago. Two players compete by asking well-crafted questions that help them identify which of the 24 individuals pictured on the gameboard matches the card in their opponent’s hand.

Those who excel at the game know how to ask yes/no questions that quickly eliminate a large group of people pictured: “Does your person wear glasses?” No. “Does he have a mustache?” Yes.

Now, let’s imagine you and a collection of your favorite FI competitors as part of a financial “Guess Who” game. 

What identifying factors do you have that would let you eliminate everyone else and leave you standing alone, demonstrating how you are truly different from your competition?

Let’s consider some of the responses FIs give when asked what makes them unique:

  • We have the best employees
  • We support our community
  • We have a great mobile app
  • We have great rates
  • We are your local solution
  • We offer the products you need

If you were applying these characteristics to a financial “Guess Who” Game, it's likely that nearly all of the competitor candidates would still be standing after those statements.

SO, WHAT'S MISSING?

Maybe there are unique benefits that already exist and you just need to uncover their significance or maximize the opportunity they might represent. Then, perhaps most importantly, communicate their value. For example:

  • “Our digital presence was voted Best in the Midwest and we are adding new customers at the highest rate in 10 years, thanks to the value they are finding in our extensive digital services.”
     
  • “When we say we have the lowest rates, we work hard to make sure that is the truth. In the past five years, our fixed mortgage rates were lower than our top competitors 90% of the time. You can count on us to save you money and get you approved more quickly.”

At the least, digging deeper and defining proof of some of the above responses may be a starting point as you work to differentiate yourself from the candidates in this competition.

  • What’s different about the way you support your community? Perhaps you offer late-night hours with financial planners on hand to advise customers. Or, do you have examples of how your service to the community goes beyond presenting oversized checks for the cameras? Are you able to prove the impact you make?
     
  • What unique storytelling opportunities can you capitalize on? Take this heartfelt example from a Midwest bank that demonstrates the human side of banking and demonstrates brand values in a personal and inviting way.

It might also be time for you to forge ahead and develop a higher-level position that goes far beyond a single feature—something attractive, unique and valuable. Either way, the exercise of identifying those attributes that truly set you apart is a valuable use of time in a sea of undifferentiated brands and commoditized product.

TRY THIS

Perhaps it’s time to explore this further. Take time to buy your best team members lunch and play your own version of financial “Guess Who.”

Consider, also, a reverse game and the valuable insights it might provide. Take your strongest competitors and see how easily it would be to identify their unique position, leaving them as the last one standing. Don’t forget to include your non-traditional competitors on the game board. It always helps to identify what you are up against.