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Good marketing means 'never running with the herd'.

She calls her business "Blah, Blah, Blah." Her corporate title is "chief of everything" (COE).

So, it's not surprising that Terri Langhans stands out from the crowd. In fact, she teaches bank marketers to behave the same way.

The author of the book, "The 7 Marketing Mistakes Every Business Makes and How to Fix Them," Langhans will be one of the keynote speakers at the ABA Marketing Conference, Sept. 12-14, in Scottsdale, Adz. Her topic is, not surprisingly, "Maverick Marketing: How to Stand Out from file Herd, Get Better Results and Attract Mort' Business."

Marketing Edge recently talked with Langhans to find out what's so different about "maverick marketing."

Q. Banking is widely seen as a commodity service. You argue that banks need to act like "mavericks" in order to differentiate themselves. That do you mean by that?

A maverick is someone who does things differently, follows a different path. When it comes to marketing, whether you're a bank or some other business, most tend to do the same thing--describe their pin, ducts or services, show pictures of the smiling, "friendly" staff and list the nifty features that are supposed to make you different, but rarely do. When you're a maverick marketer, you don't do what everyone else does. You find ways to stand out mid be different.

Q. A lot of banks market themselves by talking about how wonderful they are. But you argue that this is the wrong approach. You say banks should "connect before they convince." Connect to what?

The premise of "maverick marketing" is that people don't crate about you or your boring bank. Sorry. They don't. They care about themselves. And most marketing is all about you. Worse yet, it tends to be a blatant sales pitch, full of chest-pounding claims and boastful bullet points. And again, it's not just banks doing it. The poor consumer out there is bombarded every minute with marketing and sales messages, and that all sound alike. In essence, "Hey! Look at me! Ain't this great? Wanna buy some?"

Because of that, as consumers, most of us have an elaborate defense system built around our personal and professional lives to keep unwanted marketing, advertising and sales messages away from us. It's like we have a fortress with a wall of protection around it and built-in radar. We can spot a marketing message coming in seven syllables or less. When our radar goes off, we duck and cover, hunker down, send it to voice mail, dump it in the trash, hit the delete key.

And the most common, sure-fire, best way to, set off someone's radar is to blatantly announce your products and services, brag and pound your chest. When you do that, you're talking about yourself. Your marketing is internally focused. The most effective marketing is externally, or customer focused. It needs to connect to something people care about (which isn't you), before you try so hard to convince. Connect in a way that gets them to peek over the wall and invite you reside, instead of beating yourself bloody outside the wall.

Q. What's the beat way that a bank can stand out from its competition?

Regardless of how big or small a bank's marketing budget is, the single most effective way to stand out from the competition is to have a personality. A persona. A voice. Most marketing sounds like an annual report, spec sheet or term paper. The very best mid most effective marketing sounds and feels like a letter from a good friend. If you think of your bank as if it were a person, with its own unique personality, no one can copy it. Think about it. Even identical twins have unique personalities. It's the one way you can always roll them apart. The same goes for banks and other businesses that all look alike. No one can copy your personality.

Q. How can banks compete against other institutions that pay higher interest rates on savings and lower rates on loans?

That's probably the toughest marketing challenge there is. But who would have ever thought we'd drive our of our way, stand in line and pay upwards of $3 for a cup of "gourmet" coffee? I do a couple of "demos" in my conference programs that prove this essential marketing principle: emotions are more powerful than facts. Have you ever tried to talk someone out of a fear of flying by using facts? Have you ever tried to talk a Harley guy into a Gold Wing based on a side-by-side comparison of the facts, exists and repair information? Good luck! It's not a silver wand or magic bullet, and it takes time. It's not a one-day-don't-delay ad in the newspaper solution. But when you take the time to create an experience, when everything you say and do in your marketing, your operations and even your parking lot supports this experience, believe me, the emotional connection will be stronger than any factual argument a competitor can come up with.
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Title Annotation:ABA Marketing Network
Publication:ABA Bank Marketing
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Previous Article:Investing in your customers.
Next Article:Wanted: another 24 hours for my day!

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