Thursday, April 23, 2009

Plaza Bank Gets It

Whenever I talk to groups about Hispanic marketing "best practices," I mention Plaza Bank.

Granted, the Bank was founded by businesspeople, some with Latino backgrounds themselves, with the unique objective of combining world-class banking services with financial literacy outreach for Latinos and other immigrants.

So Plaza Bank naturally gets it:
  • Many of its customer-facing employees are native Spanish speakers, to best serve their Spanish-dominant customer base.
  • They consider the products they offer and ensure that they can provide the products most in demand by Latinos. For example, they offer a fantastic $5 money transfer product because they know Latinos regularly send money to their families in their homelands, and they wanted to give customers and non-customers alike the opportunity to do it affordably.
  • The Bank's website, merchandising and collateral are bilingual.
  • Plaza Bank and its staff show multi-faceted involvement in the local Latino community, and are working to nurture relationships and trust all the while. They support organizations that serve the Latino community either with social services, education, or general financial services (they're a member of Bank On Seattle and have contributed to the CASA Latina, the Ernest Aguilar Scholarship fund for UW students and other organizations).
  • And so on ...

I bumped into Vice President Danielle McIntyre today and we chatted in the Westlake Park sunshine. She said something to the effect of, "It's not about tacos and soccer tickets."

Danielle's right, and I couldn't have said it better myself. Companies sometimes try to appeal to the Latino community with giveaways, which is fun. But the foundation has to be solid--a foundation that nurtures trust and that shows consistency. So when the fun wears off, there's a reason for a real relationship.

If you're giving them something, make it something that's relevant to your product if you can. Plaza Bank has these great piggy banks they were giving away for families open children's accounts. This makes sense. At Sounders games for the past two years, as a sponsor, the Bank gave away branded soccer ball toys. This was of course a tie-in with the relationship Plaza Bank had established with the Sounders, and Plaza Bank has built a solid foundation with the Latino community. Alone these trinkets wouldn't have worked. They don't send people through the branch doors, and they certainly don't help retain clients. The word-of-mouth will do that.

A professional who is immersed in the Latino community and understands its members' needs, told a contact of mine today, "Plaza Bank is the bank for the Latino community. You can trust them there." That says a lot, especially in a community that may hail from countries where banks can close and FDIC won't save your savings.

Plaza Bank has built the right foundation, supporting its relationships with Latino customers with fantastic service and thorough knowledge of banking at all levels.

If you share their passion, visit them at their downtown Seattle office, their Kent Station branch, or their site to learn more.

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