Often, using new information can help broaden understanding. For community banks, learning there are international business customers in their own communities, but in unexpected places, may also open their eyes.
Many community bankers may not think they have international business customers in their midst. Yet, working with many of our client banks has shown us there are more out there than meets the eye. These businesses may be within your communities and could use international services, giving you more fee income and more ways to support your customers. Not only could there be existing international businesses in your neighborhood, but there are also domestic businesses planning on global expansion. A JP Morgan Chase business survey we reported on for our article, “Reaping
the Rewards of SMB Optimism,” notes that 14% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) anticipate expanding beyond
U.S. borders in the next three years.
THREE PLACES TO FIND SMBS WITH INTERNATIONAL SERVICES NEEDS:
- Areas where there have been recent bank acquisitions. You might not think about international businesses when
you think of bank mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Yet, we have found that some SMBs have lost their relationship manager through M&A activity and could be looking for someone else to address their international
needs, among others.
- Distribution and manufacturing SMBs. Even if these customers have HQs and manufacturing within state boundaries, they likely have business with other countries for one or more components of their business. Plastics,
metals, and machinery are popular imports from trading partners and are used to produce many local goods.
- Younger business owners. Millennial and Gen Z business owners have grown up in a digital and more connected world, where global commerce is not seen as something only for big companies. Some young business owners may be leading an online business. Others may want to import sustainably sourced products, such as wool sweaters from Ecuadorian alpacas or small-batch coffee from Central America.
Once you have determined where the SMBs are that need international services, you can turn your attention to how you
can reach out to them. There are multiple ways, but we have found these approaches work well for our bank customers.
- Send out targeted communications about your international services so that SMBs needing them will know to contact you. Emails are efficient and fast, while direct mailers can be more impactful, yet take more time.
- Invest in localized digital ads, such as Google ads. Those businesses needing wire services or Canadian check imaging will know who to turn to.
- Provide educational seminars on international business tips for your community. Likely, SMBs looking for a new
service provider will gravitate to such sessions. Keep an ear open for those businesses that may be scrambling.
With international business customers, community banks can expand their customer base, strengthen their customer
relationships, and increase their revenue through fee income. Isn’t it worth a try?