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Attracting faculty and staff to your campus card banking service

Chris Corum   ||   May 08, 2006  ||   ,

Sure, students are a bank’s reason for its campus existence, but a more profitable client base includes the ones teaching the students … as well as the university administrators and staff. But attracting professors and staff that already have a banking relationship is no easy task.

Whitney Bright, vice president, Campus Banking, for U.S. Bank, said that while its programs are “tailored to the students rather than faculty and staff in terms of our ability to offer them services, they’re probably twice as profitable as a (typical) student account.” Put another way: “If we can grow faculty and staff, we don’t have to get as many students to justify the expense (of the branch),” she said.

But how do you attract faculty and staff away from their existing banks?

“We’re looking at how to (better) penetrate that market, but we haven’t yet had great success,” said Ms. Bright.

A method that works with new employees is to grab them before they have a chance to select another bank. “Employee orientation is a great way to get them,” says Ms. Bright. But the bank has to have a good in with the human resources department to make that happen. Ms. Bright reports that some universities have let U.S. Bank be part of the employee orientation program.

For existing employees, Ms. Bright suggests that direct deposit service can present an opportunity. “One of things we did with Marquette is help them with their direct deposit campaign,” said Ms. Bright. “Most schools have some kind of direct deposit. Of course, it does help to have a branch on campus. Then it’s more of a push to bank with us and to have direct deposit with us,” she adds.

At Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Marquette, “everyone who signed up for direct deposit, received $10. The university appreciated our help in supporting (their effort to) increase number of faculty on direct deposit. If one signed up for a new account, the person got $5 and if he also signed up for direct deposit, the total was $15,” said Ms. Bright.

“(At the on campus branch), we can keep a supply of direct deposit authorization forms … which helps the university facilitate that process.”

Finally, there’s always the convenience factor to consider. In many, it’s easier to walk across campus to make that deposit, cash that check, or use an ATM than it is to leave campus to conduct routine banking business. And if the faculty or staff member has an account with the on-campus bank, he or she can save money as well as time by avoiding ATM fees.

The key to penetrating the faculty and staff market seems to a combination of patience, persistence, and creativity. Encourage your bank partner to keep the out in front of the audience and continually refine the message stressing a range of benefits. Not every benefit (e.g. convenience, cost savings, direct deposit) will resonate with every employee … but it is likely that at least one will. The trick is finding that sweet spot for each individual.

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