Culture and Talent

A Poughkeepsie bank is putting on its own morning show

  • Poughkeepsie, New York-based Rhinebeck Bank runs an online video morning show to "build a buzz" in the community.
  • The episodes have helped position the brand as a community partner, which the bank says has helped drum up interest in product offerings.
A Poughkeepsie bank is putting on its own morning show

It’s like “Good Morning America,” but it’s produced by a bank.

Every Monday at 8 a.m., the “Wake Up with Rhinebeck Bank” online video show targets Hudson Valley residents, highlighting interesting people and issues in the area. Episodes run from five to 15 minutes, and topics include a profile of a millennial chef, a trip to a local distillery and a chat with the head of a mental health nonprofit. It’s a way the Poughkeepsie, New York-based bank is marketing itself as a community partner.

“It’s really helped build a buzz, with businesses and nonprofits sharing the videos on their social media channels and websites,” said Michelle Barone-Lepore, svp of marketing. “We want to tell people what’s going on in the community and give them something shareable.”

The show launched in May 2016 and gets posted on Facebook and YouTube every week when it’s not on summer hiatus. Barone-Lepore, who co-hosts the show with vp and area sales leader Mark Malone, said Facebook is the primary distribution channel, garnering around 10,000 views a week.

A handful of staff members at the bank brainstorm ideas and guests for the show every week, which local online television station Hudson Valley News Network films, Barone-Lepore said. The videos are relatively inexpensive to produce, costing between $650 to $700 per episode. The bank has experimented with different types of content, and it’s learned that compelling stories rather than product promotions drive viewership.

“We’ve done three episodes where we talked about products — they did badly because of the content,” said Barone-Lepore. “People care more about building a community or telling a story.”

Through interest in the stories and social sharing of the videos by influential locals, the bank hopes customers will stay tied to the brand, which will drive business back to the bank.

Barone-Lepore said it’s difficult to know for sure whether increased interest in the bank’s product offerings is directly attributable to the show, but the number of deposit account openings have edged up since the show’s launch. From January to April 2016, before the show started airing, the bank would open 162 to 172 new accounts per month. After the show started running in May, that number increased; from June to December of the same year, the number of new monthly deposit account openings ranged from 188 to 287. Commercial loan volume was up 29 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year.

Financial services marketers have been increasingly drawn to video in recent years. As Tearsheet reported in April, they have strived to create authentic enough content to forge a human connection with customers. Examples include T. Rowe Price, Charles Schwab, Bank of America and TD.

“They are not putting themselves front and center. … They are pitching themselves as enablers of other people’s dreams and desire to do good,” Dan Latimore, svp of Celent’s banking practice, told American Banker.

The use of Facebook as a distribution channel suggests the show may be more about customer engagement rather than acquisition, said Jackie Brown, principal at financial services marketing agency JB Communications Group.

“If they are mainly using Facebook as the means to distribute the show, I would say their uptick in certain products is likely coming from existing customers, as most people who engage with a financial institution on Facebook are already using that bank or credit union.”

Rhinebeck said its preference for prerecorded rather than live streaming video is to ensure its compliance team can review the content while allowing the flexibility to add b-roll and other finishing touches. Brown said this type of content may appeal to particular demographics.

“Prerecording certainly helps to manage the message much more tightly than streaming live,” said Brown. “The polished videos probably appeal more to an older crowd than the streaming events.”

Still, Barone-Lepore said the bank intends to move into channels more frequently used by younger people and plans to post shorter versions of the videos on Instagram and launch a Snapchat channel this fall. The challenge, she said, is keeping the content interesting.

“We’re working on making the content flow better and working on different formats so people will be interested — different angles and camera cuts will help,” she said. “As video changes, we’re going to change; as long as we keep on top of that, we’re going to be in a position to win.”

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