Banking on Collaborative Marketing

How Remberto Del Real delivers BMO Harris’s commercial and business banking message to its customers

Remberto Del Real, VP Head of Commercial and Business Banking Marketing, BMO Harris

Growing up in Chicago, Remberto Del Real remembers seeing his father walk out into the frigid winter air to install HVAC systems for people’s homes and businesses. It wasn’t an easy job, but Del Real Sr. put in the long hours and did it regardless of challenging conditions. He wasn’t afraid of rolling up his sleeves. And although his  chosen line of work isn’t as physical as his father’s, neither is Del Real.

Del Real is the marketing lead for commercial and business banking at BMO Harris Bank. His is a story of self-made success. He was the first in his family to go to college, and his experiences have taught him to be a pioneer in the marketing industry. Starting a career in marketing straight out of college was like navigating uncharted waters, he says. “Now, I know to be collaborative, and I have a great network.”

Del Real’s collaborative and creative approach to business and commercial bank marketing has kept BMO current in targeting existing and potential clients. On an average week, he’s working with his team on more than 50 events and sponsorships. Del Real and his team also develop thought-leadership content, which utilizes the expertise of BMO’s bankers. The content is distributed online and to the bank’s clients. He also oversees sponsorships and client events targeting C-level executives.

One such event coming up this fall, an annual event, targets female executives. Del Real brings in outside speakers who speak to the issues relevant to the audience. This type of event helps BMO’s bankers develop strong relationships with clients and prospects, contributing ultimately to the bank’s success.

“For us, marketing needs to be intuitive, and it needs to have that human touch,” Del Real says. “That’s something that our bankers do every day, and it’s something that adds value.”

BMO Harris Bank

Headquartered: Chicago, IL

Founded: 1882

Number of Employees: 14,500

Reach: 600 branches and 1,300 ATMs in the US

About: BMO Harris is a member of the Federal Reserve System and is owned by BMO Financial Corporation, a holding company owned by Bank of Montreal.

With marketing becoming increasingly digital, Del Real chooses platforms that make the most sense for BMO. “It seems like there’s a new and different platform every day,” he says. “I need to monitor what platforms work for my company. Digital has definitely changed the landscape for companies as they think about how they go to market. There’s constant change, so there’s also constant opportunity.”

Del Real recognizes the importance of increasing the bank’s presence on social media. Before Del Real joined BMO, the commercial bank wasn’t even on LinkedIn. Responding to the fact that many of the company’s clients utilized the platform, Del Real began creating content for that audience.

“If you think of our audience, they’re the financial decision-makers and the CEOs,” Del Real says. “Social media is giving us another opportunity to reach our audience. People can sign up to follow us. Digital marketing allows us to target the folks that we really want to get in front of—unlike a billboard that everybody sees. We use those ‘billboard dollars’ on the web, so we can be a lot more focused in terms of who we reach. We can redirect our advertising dollars when reaching out to our middle market decision makers.”

Del Real sees social media as an increasingly viable way to communicate directly with clients and prospects and get their stories out. With smart social networking, BMO can effectively demonstrate how their product or service fills a need, and it allows customers to tell the bank the needs they would like the bank to address. Commercial bank marketing is a relatively new field, and Del Real thinks marketing departments will continue to grow as more strategic partners.

The way Del Real sees it, marketing today focuses on letting customers get the word out by sharing their experiences and their stories. Having heard stories from customers about how the company helped them, BMO’s  advertising team created the “We’re Here to Help” campaign. This year, the bank will roll out a campaign focused on that message, from all perspectives of banking. At the end of the day, Del Real says that successful marketing is all about knowing the customer’s need.

“You need to be in line with what your business is trying to do,” Del Real says, adding that marketing is often thought of as an area of business in its own bubble with great ideas— but these ideas must extend to the rest of the company. “If you’re not in line with what your commercial bank is trying to do, then you’re not going to be successful. I’ve stayed in business and commercial bank marketing because it allows me to help our bankers build relationships and differentiate our products and services to help us stand out from all other options. And that’s what keeps me energized.”