To stay ahead of changing demands as more consumers turned to digital platforms for their banking needs, Bank of America (BofA)’s focus has been on providing customers an unmatched mobile banking platform. But, by not proactively sharing news about its product pipeline, it began to fall behind its competitors in positive coverage of its technology.
As a result, at the end of 2015 BofA and Burson-Marsteller developed a plan to tell the bank’s story and establish BofA as the industry leader in financial technology (fintech).
The team conducted an in-depth media audit, focusing on digital banking coverage, fellow financial institutions and a broader look at the tech industry.
A key takeaway was the need to ‘preview’ technologies. BofA executives needed to be more vocal about their plans and discuss the details of solutions in development. This would differentiate BofA from competitors, allow it to be part of larger tech trend pieces and extend the news over time.
Another key piece of the audit was the need to garner competitive intelligence. Overlaying these insights with BofA’s product pipeline gave the team anticipatory targets of which features and announcements they felt confident the institution would lead the industry in, and thus could support with robust amplification tactics to demonstrate the brand’s leadership.
The team also conducted a focus group as primary research to help craft the program narrative. This helped to understand which media targets and messaging would resonate with the key audiences.
Through this qualitative research, the team discovered one of BofA’s biggest differentiators: Instead of investing the majority of their budget in large innovation labs and R&D testing, BofA’s customer-first approach – connecting with customers in financial centers and ideating solutions with their input at the forefront – was an untapped, external stance in the industry.
The ultimate goal was to establish BofA as a digital thought leader through a yearlong integrated marketing campaign, targeting existing BofA customers, notable media and prominent industry influencers, with the following objectives:
- Lead industry share of voice and increase overall media placements by 50% YOY
- Position BofA executives and partner organizations as leaders in the digital banking space
- Increase innovation message penetration by 50% YOYGenerate new stakeholder attention to drive greater awareness of BofA digital offerings
Strategies included differentiating content, developing partnerships and identifying influencers. This involved flooding the marketplace with pipeline previews, leadership messaging and executive interviews, and engaging key partnerships and relationships to drive the story and continue momentum through the year and beyond.
The first phase focused on media relations. During the first week of the year, key digital/payments executives participated in top-tier, national interviews previewing BofA’s 2016 digital roadmap.
To sustain coverage, expansive media networks were targeted including CBS News, the Associated Press and the Dow Jones Network. This resulted in nearly 100 regional CBS broadcast segments, more than 30 top-tier online placements and prompted Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch coverage.
The BofA/Burson team implemented an amplification strategy to continue momentum, announcing first-to-market offerings throughout the year, including an emphasis on cardless ATM technologies, real-time payments and Messenger bots integration. These were announced through the partnerships with well-known names such as Facebook, Google and Samsung.
Social media also played an integral part in the campaign, providing platforms for BofA executives to actively engage in industry conversations and exclusively announce product updates through BofA accounts.
The team also revamped and launched the third annual BofA Trends in Consumer Mobility Report, examining broad mobile behaviors and smartphone trends. While fellow financial institutions were focused on mobile banking research, BofA’s broader look at consumers’ mobile usage and tech trends garnered coverage in hard-to-reach lifestyle outlets and influential tech and financial media.
The campaign was successful not only in winning Silver and Bronze Anvil Awards, through results including:
- BofA led media share of voice, accounting for 55% of digital banking mentions, with its next closest competitor sitting at 20%
- Media placements grew 300% YOY and impressions doubled, totaling over 2.7 billion
- Executives were featured in more than one-third of campaign media coverage
- Executive commentary increased 400% YOY, and interview opportunities increased 60%
- Industry rankings from Forrester, Javelin and Celent named BofA the top mobile leader
- Social activity increased 150%, resulting in 6K engagements and 100K impressions
- Mobile user growth increased by 2.5 million, more than 20% year-over-year
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