This entry authored by Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director with On The Mark Strategies.

A recent article about the San Francisco Giants and experiential marketing in Adweek magazine caught my eye (and even though I’m a lifetime Atlanta Braves fan, I’ll admit the same theory applies at any ballpark, bank or credit union.)

We have talked in the past about the importance of experiential marketing as it relates to financial institutions. In fact, we often advise bank and credit union partners during branding exercises they must learn to think like retailers and create memorable lifetime experiences for consumers in order to survive. The marketing machine behind the San Francisco Giants understands this.

The article states that “The success of a baseball team comes down to two things: selling tickets and selling sponsorships. The Giants are among the best of both of those because of the team and the experience they’ve created at the ballpark.”

Let’s face it — going to a major-league baseball game isn’t cheap. People aren’t going because it’s inexpensive. They’re going for the opportunity to create a memory for themselves and their family as well as following their favorite team. The same thing applies to a bank or credit union. Banks and credit unions, at least for consumers, are concerned. Nobody is going there because they are excited about it. They’re going because they pretty much have to to take care of financial business.

But what if your bank or credit union was able to, through experiential marketing, create a memorable enough experience that makes interacting with you an enjoyable thing? It’s not impossible. Banking giant Wells Fargo exposes consumers to virtual reality entertainment at various venues across the country. Umpqua Bank hosts a traveling digital art show. TD Bank has made a splash by funding customer community service projects.

Right about now you’re probably thinking “Okay, great – but these are giant banks with huge budgets. What can my smaller bank or credit union accomplish?” A lot, actually.

You don’t necessarily have to break the bank in order to create memorable experiences for your consumers. Often, it’s the little touches that mean the most, like using their first names, providing lobby refreshments or even remembering to send a dog treat back through the drive-through tube when you notice someone has a canine companion in the car with them. It also comes in providing top-notch digital and mobile products and services offerings. And you can make a great impression by being an active participant and sponsor in targeted community events.

In the past, marketers were able to get by with occasional newspaper ads and television commercials. In the new experience economy, they don’t have that luxury. Increasingly, banking credit union brand professionals must find ways to create memorable experiences for their consumers in order to stand out in a very competitive environment.