It’s no secret that Philadelphia’s banking landscape is shifting dramatically. With JPMorgan Chase expanding its retail presence into the city and the surrounding areas, the region’s already crowded banking market is set to get a whole lot more competitive. Moreover, in addition to JPMorgan Chase, the city is seeing an influx of other large financial institutions that want a piece of Philadelphia’s booming business activity, driving competitive pressure even higher for local and national players alike.

For customers, the influx of new banks will probably be a good thing, as competition generally drives innovation and provides more buying options. That said, the pressure to retain and grow market share is going to drive regional and local institutions to become more creative with their offerings and marketing strategies, as they lack the resources to compete with the vast R&D budgets of institutions like JPMorgan Chase. Regardless of size, however, all banks that wish to successfully conduct business in the city of Philadelphia need to understand one thing: localized marketing matters.

Unlike New York or Washington D.C., Philadelphia is a relatively non-transient city. Many of Philadelphia’s business leaders, politicians, and consumers are either from the city (or its suburbs) or have lived here for many years. Philadelphia is a small town disguised as a large city, and Philadelphians can sniff out inauthenticity faster than you can slap a handful of mozzarella on your cheesesteak (which, by the way, is a terrible idea). Now is the time for both local and immigrant institutions alike to develop honest, authentic, and localized messaging that speaks directly to Philadelphians about issues that truly matter to them. Big players are moving into the city and they have major marketing budgets. While local institutions can’t compete with the volume of spend, they can create more community-focused messaging. The major players have been able to succeed with relatively bland messaging in most markets, but that approach will likely not be as effective in Philadelphia.

This city is one with a distinctly recognizable essence, and banks should be tapping into this with their messaging. The people of Philadelphia are a proud breed, and showing that you’re able to speak their language in a way that’s genuine and authentic is essential. If you want to be seen as a “Philadelphia bank”, you need to learn how to tap into the issues that truly matter to Philadelphians. Understanding this is the first step to developing a strategy that truly makes an impact in this market.

As a side note, while many Philadelphians have lived in the region for many years, there is one demographic that presents a particularly large opportunity for banks: Millennials. Philadelphia is rich with young talent moving into the city for its impressive roster of colleges and universities, career opportunities, lower cost of living, and world-class culture. Given this generation’s mistrust of large, national financial institutions, local banks especially have the opportunity to earn business from the city’s ever-growing Millennial population, who will inevitably make up the future of the Philadelphia’s business leadership.

As a takeaway, it’s important to understand whether your message will resonate strongly with Philadelphians. Here’s what you need to consider to make sure that your brand is effectively capitalizing on all the undervalued marketing opportunities that exist in this market:

1.) Is your brand developing messaging that addresses Philadelphia-specific emotional drivers? For example, does your brand’s messaging support the idea that Philadelphia is a world-class city and not simply an alternative to neighboring cities? Does your brand’s messaging speak to the intrinsic value of doing business with your bank? (Such as area-specific history, connections, and relationship value.) These are some of the many important emotional drivers for Philadelphians, and if done correctly, incorporating this type of messaging into your marketing campaigns will always be more effective and powerful than generic, mass-market tactics.

2.) Philadelphia’s population is comprised of more than 50% people of color, it is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly cities in the country, and it is home to a large immigrant population. The city’s business and political leadership reflects this diversity. Is your brand developing messaging that takes into account the city’s diverse population in a way that is thoughtful, appropriate, and most importantly, authentic?

3.) Is your brand doing enough to capture the attention and interest of the city’s growing population of Millennials, who are notoriously distrusting of large financial institutions? What public relations tactics are you using to mitigate this and build trust among this demographic? This is essential for the survival of your business.

To learn more, ask questions, or share ideas, feel free to reach out to us! We can be contacted here: Contact 96andX