There are many things we want to own in life: a car, a home, a pet. As a bank or credit union there are also things we want to own: success, profitability, and our customers’ or members’ business.

For financial institutions, there is something else we should strive to own: the circle.

While there are many potential target audiences (generational, income, race, etc.) one strategy banks and credit unions can employ is a geographical one. And that’s where “owning the circle” comes into play.

With each one of your branch locations, draw a circle around it. You can make that circle three miles, four miles or even five miles but draw it. And for marketing purposes, you should “own” everything in that circle.

Examples of items you should own in your branch circle include the following:

  • Small businesses
  • Home owner associations
  • Neighborhoods
  • Billboards
  • Movie theatre and mall advertising
  • Gas station kiosks
  • Schools (elementary and high schools)
  • Community events

Whatever and wherever it is, you own it. Simply get on Google Maps and review everything that is in that radius. Consumers inside that circle should know you because they shouldn’t go anywhere without seeing your messages.

While technology is certainly reducing the need for branches these days and digital banking is a major trend, most consumers still define convenience by where your branches are located. And they want those branches in their backyard. So the smaller the circle (three or four miles depending on your specific market) the more ideal it is.

While there is also a trend towards globalization in our world today, there is a counter trend: localization. People want to do business with people they know. That is where the circle strategy has an advantage.

We also need to stop thinking like financial institutions and think more like retailers. One strategy retailers use is to maximize their stores by leveraging their location. In real estate it’s all about location, location, location. While that is true with your branch strategy you must go beyond simple location. You must own everything near that location.

As Seth Godin once said, “The way your reach the masses is to target a niche.” And one niche worth investing in is the immediate circle around all your branches.