Cover Story: Taking Care of Business
Though banks took the blame for it, the 2007/2008 "financial crisis" was not easy on any financial firms, including the First Horizon National Corp. in Memphis, Tenn., parent company of First Tennessee Bank. After selling off its national mortgage business when the financial crisis hit and shuffling management, the company began to refocus on one of its core strengths: serving commercial customers.
Under the guidance of D. Bryan Jordan, who came on board as CEO in 2008, First Tennessee is now actively courting businesses not only in its current markets, but across the Southeast. The aim is to attract new commercial customers, but also to cross-sell more products and services to existing customers.
"Commercial banking is profitable," says Dan Marks, First Tennessee's CMO. "Businesses need deposits, cash management and loans, so we are able to provide them with a full range of services. It's better for the customer and it's also more profitable for the bank. It's a leverage point to get a greater share of wallet."
Within that refocusing strategy, target marketing is "especially important for [reaching] commercial customers," says Marks.
"The buying cycle is longer, so it becomes that much more important to be very relevant and tailor the message to meet the needs of the particular industry of that customer or their specific company," he says. "It goes back to the importance of having a really good foundation with a CRM system and aligning marketing initiatives very closely with the sales force."
The State of the Industry
The idea of target marketing is still fairly new to the banking industry, according to Robert Tetenbaum, co-founder and executive vice president of the financial services-focused First Manhattan Consulting Group Inc. in New York City. As the profitability pressures on banks intensify in the post-crisis era, he says direct marketing has become imperative.