In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was condemned to rolling a rock uphill, only to have it roll
back down each time. Bankers who lose good customers month in and month out may
likewise feel this sense of futility. Those who respond by boosting advertising budgets,
(offering low-cost, low-profitability products as a lure) may find they increase their
marketing expenses only to obtain unprofitable customers.
On the other hand, a thoughtful, organized approach to marketing, sales and customer
relationship management (CRM) allows a bank to make real progress toward sustained
growth in profitability. In fact, it has proven to be dramatically easier than rolling that rock
up that hill, or even sideways. Profitable customers are identified, targeted for relationship
building and maintained through exceptional service. In addition, other worthwhile
prospects or customers are identified in the hope of developing profitable relationships.
The result? Real upward growth in profitability and shareholder value.
According to Alex Sheshunoff Management, it costs an average of $200 to obtain a
new customer relationship. But as many as seven out of 10 of a bank’s products may be
unprofitable or only marginally profitable. And it is generally one of these unprofitable
products, such as free checking, that is used as a marketing lure. The painful fallacy of
this approach is reminiscent of the old joke about GM’s logic with the Chevette – it lost
money on each one it sold, but its plan was to make it up on volume.
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