Case Study: A bank with rural roots invests in expanding its reach
As a community bank with a 150-year history in Maine, Machias Savings Bank is the fifth largest bank in Maine. While MSB has a very strong brand reputation and 60% market share in Washington County, its southern Maine presence is only a few years old. Research indicated that southern Maine audiences viewed MSB as a small town bank and many weren’t aware of its presence or capacity in the southern Maine commercial lending market.
The Machias Savings Bank marketing team engaged Fluent IMC to provide strategy, public relations and advertising/media planning support with a focus on building its brand awareness and reinforcing its reputation as a business banking partner south of Rockland.
We began by outlining key messages and building a strategy around messaging goals and communications objectives for the year. Recognizing that MSB wanted to raise awareness of its capacity to meet the lending and deposit needs of large customers and help small Maine businesses grow, we developed a multi-channel plan to reach Southern Maine’s business audience of prospective clients, Centers of Influence and other small to mid-size business decision makers.
To provide the bank with opportunities to showcase their expertise in the southern Maine market, we identified and pitched speaking engagements for business banking employees to engage directly with a target audience of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Further showcasing the bank’s lending capacity, we partnered with a high profile real estate client in our earned media outreach to demonstrate credibility.
Beyond its emphasis on southern Maine, MSB is focused on ongoing rural revitalization and driving economic impact across the state of Maine. We secured an interview for MSB’s CEO that resulted in a cover story in Maine’s premier statewide business news publication.
In addition to earned media, Fluent developed a year-long paid media plan comprised of TV, radio, print, and digital advertising. To further align the brand with its target markets, we recommended specific industry sponsorships to raise brand awareness in the southern Maine commercial market.
In Fluent’s first year of working with Machias Savings Bank, projects and opportunities included:
- Feature in an article on digital video ads in Mainebiz
- A speaking engagement at the Maine Association of Nonprofits Charting Change: 2019 Nonprofit Finance Conference
- Mainebiz cover story: “Machias makes a comeback, after decades of decline”
- Holiday fraud prevention segment on Good Day Maine
- A bylined article in Mainebiz: “How to find the best lending partner for your business”
- Scriptwriting, creative direction, and media buying for ads across platforms
After a successful first year campaign, we revamped our strategy to focus on other target markets and key messaging as defined by the bank. Like so many others, MSB was forced to pivot in early 2020, and our outlined PR strategy shifted as they worked to support their communities.
Through pitching and continuing to nurture journalist relationships, we helped MSB achieve a number of feature articles and interviews from Q1-Q3 2020 as Maine adapted to the reality of managing life in the midst of a pandemic. These opportunities included:
- Mainebiz: “Machias Savings offers $100K in grants for Maine nonprofits” and “42 Maine nonprofits awarded $100K in Machias Savings grants”
- Larry Barker was featured in Portland Monthly as a “Maine Community Hero”
- Associated Press: “Maine bank to provide $200K in relief to nonprofits” and “Maine bank giving grants to Portland library, nonprofits” which were both subsequently picked up nationally
- MSB spokespeople were quoted in a variety of stories on pandemic-related topics, including:
- In the Ellsworth American about businesses seeking help obtaining resources.
- In Mainebiz about the bank’s process to manage high demand for applications for relief.
- In the Portland Press Herald and Sun Journal speaking about the need for economic relief for Maine fishermen. A second article details additional financial challenges facing fishermen.
- On WCSH discussing MSB’s role in bringing high speed broadband to downtown Machias.
We additionally helped to secure coverage beyond COVID-related topics, including for MSB’s investment in bringing broadband to downtown Machias and an op-ed from CEO Larry Barker on lobstering restrictions facing Maine’s fishermen.
Fluent provides the bank’s senior leadership team with metrics to continue measuring the bank’s success in key markets and among competition.