Today’s post may be a shorter one as the concept is simple and simply requires the ability to type, read and follow directions. When I am not working at Brass Media, I work with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Linn-Benton Community College, advising business owners, helping them with most of their online/marketing needs. When I was first asked to do this; I was confused as to what I could offer, but I quickly found out many business owners didn’t know how to use some of the basic free tools at their disposal. The most basic: Google search. Now with the existence of Siri on iPhone, folks are making a game out of asking Siri questions that “she” just turns around and searches for. For example, my brother asks Siri questions all the time and most of the time I can search for it faster on my phone than he can using Siri. Apple has been masters of innovation time and time again, but Siri can be more gimmicky than helpful. Just stop being lazy and type once in a while!
When I meet with a client, here is what happens too often: The client asks me a question, I type in that question into a Google search and send the client links. I show exactly what I did, but they come back asking me more questions. It’s almost like they treat Google as a trusted expert that only I am allowed to talk to. Why?!?!
At a Corvallis City Club event several years ago, discussing the type, read and follow directions “strategy”.
A big part of the problem is their past experiences with paid consultants. I tell them to maintain and cultivate their specific area of expertise, but in some ways…become a jack of all trades. If you don’t have a basic understanding of a product, tool or task, than how can you assess if the consultant you are paying is doing their job? I met with someone years ago that was paying a web/social media consultant $30,000/year. Thanks to the state and federal funding the SBDC receives, we are able to give clients free advising. My first piece of free advice was fire your consultant; they have done nothing for your online presence. I preceded to give them the basic tools that will prevent them from making the same mistake again.
So…if you have Siri (and especially if you don’t), take sometime to just type, read and follow directions before you just ask an “expert” how to solve your problem. As my dad used to say, “be careful in asking advice from someone who stands to monetarily benefit.”
With the New Orleans Super Bowl Hangover (literal for some) just about over, I thought it relevant to talk about the NBA’s new New Orleans Mascot, the New Orleans Pelicans. That’s not a typo. It has caused a lot of chatter. I don’t mind the logo, but I can’t say I like the name. As it rolls off the tongue, its hard to take the name seriously. A pelican doesn’t seem the formidable even when you cross an angry one. A Trail Cat (a.k.a. cougar) on the other hand (much like the Portland Trail Blazers Mascot) seems a lot more formidable.
In honor of what would be Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) birthday, I wanted to do a very brief spotlight on his bank. “Robinson helped found and direct the Freedom National Bank in Harlem because he thought black people should have a financial institution of their own. At the time, the bank, which eventually closed, was the largest black-owned and operated bank in New York state.”
As a huge Dodger fan (see previously post) and a proud supporter of banks increasing customer engagement around the country, I couldn’t be prouder of a man that by transforming a sport, he transformed a nation. Go Dodgers!
It seems the education in this country isn’t getting any better, yet there is a constant: Montessori. Montessori is in at least 120 countries and this manifested itself best when I was on the Corvallis Montessori Society (CMS) board. Corvallis isn’t exactly an ethnically diverse town and take Oregon State University away and Corvallis might as well be renamed Anglo. I found that CMS had a lot of diversity, partially because of the open mindedness Montessori fosters and since the teaching around the world are congruent. The curiosity of learning that Montessori fosters creates a better community and really has made me a much better marketer.
So what did I learn while I was in Montessori? According to my title, everything, but let’s get more specific. My Montessori experience (although brief) has helped mold me into the person I am today in part because those were my first vivid memories growing up. Many years later I would join the Montessori board in my hometown of Corvallis. One of the requirement of sitting on board was doing classroom observations, which I loved. Since Montessori education has remained virtually unchanged for more than a century, it felt more like the Ghost of Christmas Past took me on a journey of my own past. To be honest, I was always nervous about these visits because when a Montessori child ask you a question, they truly were interested in how you crafted your answer. Learning was a privilege to them and curiosity; the catalyst.
APPARENTLY I’M 4 HERE. I PROMISE I LEARNED MORE THAN JUST THE “I’M THIS MANY” GAME IN MONTESSORI.
Do you remember your first traumatic experience? I do! I bet millions of people share the same cause of their traumatic experience, but not the same reason. Kindergarten was a scary time and for many their first big social experience, so of course it is going to be traumatic. I was a VERY shy child and so this type of social experience scared learning out of me. The really traumatic part came from the transition from Montessori to public school. In Montessori, guides (teachers) fostered my shy curiosity and I was rewarded for the person I was, while in Kindergarten (RIP Mrs. Stone) I was rewarded if I followed everyone else. I am not saying the public school is terrible; the best teacher I ever had was Mr. Eldon, a public school 6th grade teacher. I got lucky, but so many don’t get lucky. Montessori, because of its structure, is much less of a crap shoot as the importance it put into the curiosity of one’s environment and less on the teacher. The teachers were called guides for a reason; they guided you to unlock your curiosity of learning and didn’t simply teach. Don’t get me wrong I do have a lot of appreciation for teachers as most of my family at one point in time were public school teachers (this is not the same as saying I am not racist because I have a black friend).
The majority of the work we do here at Brass Media, centers around creating engaging personal finance content to help the ADD generation find their love of learning in an entertaining fashion. The benefits of this content in social media can be seen in the conversations that are happening, instead of the majority of information that is best served behind a lectern. In the end I am not advocating that every child should attend Montessori, but as Maria Montessori once said, “We cannot create observers by saying “observe,” but by giving them the power and the means for this observation and these means are procured through education of the senses”
About six hours south of our last Mascot Monday feature (Sammy the Slug) lives another unique mascot, UC Irvine’s Peter the Anteater. This mascot was a close second to Sammy, according to my father.
According the Anteater Chronicles website, the Anteater was chose in 1965 in a student election. ” The choice was hailed for its originality, winning over the second place choice “None of these” and the more common – if less imaginative – Eagles, Unicorns and Seahawks.” This mascot is unique and unexpected, but the reason you may have heard of him before is thanks to a sign at John Wayne International Airport reads “Welcome to Anteater Country.”
In attempt to spice up some of my Mondays and bring to life my dad’s love of mascot names, I have decided to take a peek at different mascots around the country (and maybe the world) in frequent installments called Mascot Mondays. Since I missed last Monday and will probably miss the following Monday, due to the Holidays, today’s post will be for both. So…anyway, a Google search defined a mascot as, “A person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck or that is used to symbolize a particular event or organization.” At Wazzu, I was a fairly normal mascot (Butch. T. Cougar), but I hope to discover some not so normal good luck bearers going forward.
UC Santa Cruz has one of the most amusing and awesome (according to my father) mascots: The Banana Slug. UC Santa Cruz wanted more inclusive physical education and recreational programs and according to the UC Santa Cruz website, “The students’ embrace of such a lowly creature was their response to the fierce athletic competition fostered at most American universities.” While the mascot name does not foster fear, in certainly does well at symbolizing a more welcoming environment and as one of their T-Shirts states: “Banana Slugs-No Known Predators.”
Alex Sion, President and Managing Director of MovenBank, talks about the future of financial services. MovenBank is seeking to provide customers with an entirely digital banking experience. MovenBank is currently in Beta. Sion says that the future of “banking is going to become less about product innovation and more about innovation for the client experience.”
Click image above to watch the short 4 minute video.
I had the privilege of listening to Brett King, MovenBank’s CEO and founder, talk at the ABA Marketing Conference this last September. While I didn’t agree with everything he said, Brett provided a much needed wakeup call to banks that are behind the times. King seemed to understand that banks are slow to change and that time was NOT on their side. King went on to say that in 1995 the average customer visited the bank 2-3 times per month. In 2011 it was 2-3 times per YEAR! Going to the bank is no longer defined by walking into a branch, bu rather using the bank’s services including the ATM.
Brett King speaking at the 2012 ABA Marketing Conference
In a prior post I quoted Rob Poyhard (professor of business administration at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business) saying that “In today’s world, we are all interconnected. Companies that are thinking about this proactively are the ones that are probably going to have an advantage in leveraging this technology. I’d be surprised if the first few companies that get in there don’t have a lasting competitive advantage.”
So if you are one of the banks that are “behind the times,” don’t panic yet. You still have time to get in the new marketing game. I recommend a sound written strategy of what, how and when. What is your strategy? How are you going to implement it and when is this going to be put into action? You don’t need to take a giant leap into this lifeline of social media, just try baby steps like Bill Murray tries to do in the movie, What about Bob? While a giant leap could just make you frustrated and cause interuption to an otherwise calming experience.
Marketing budgets are being cut or unchanged year after year forcing bank marketers to continually to do more with less. While I could do an entire post on budgeting strategy, that post would inevitably find its way to a discussion on social media. Laura Pomerene, Marketing Director at First National Bank and Trust, would probably agree. Laura and her Marketing Coordinator colleague, Britney McKay, have recently introduced social media into their marketing plan (in April of this year) and the push to do this didn’t come about without a well thought out strategy according to Laura:
“It was important for us to first develop a strategy before jumping in feet first. A common perception by management was that we needed to take advantage of this ‘free’ medium. We were cautious not to blindly and badly throw a Facebook page out there without thinking about what we wanted to accomplish. We started when we felt comfortable with our initial strategy, which was to align our brand first with a community focus.”
What many banks don’t realize, is that social media won’t transfix your mission, vision and values, it will transform it. First National Bank does have a twitter account as well, but they don’t plan on implementing their strategy until next year. I would say that while social media is very important to the future relevance of your financial institution, a written down strategy of its intended use and maintenance are even more important, since as the adage says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” The last thing you want to do is engage in these social media networks and have them fall dormant. A study of 314 banks on twitter found that 1 in 5 of those banks became Twitter quitters. Social media is important, but so is heeding the advice from this study from TheFinancialBrand.com, showing that “many are just going through the motions, spewing lame tweets about rate changes or happy holiday wishes. These guys can probably find more productive things to do with their time.”
Now, if not right away, the social media discussion always turns to Return on Investment. ROI is important, but the on a 70,000 foot level, it should be seen more as ROR (return on relationships). Before First National Bank launched their Facebook page, they hired a company called General Sentiment to create a benchmark report, partially to determine what was and what is being said about them. In this process of creating a strategy and implementing some kind of ROI, Laura was careful to listen to one of her colleagues, Jeff Marsico as he pointed out that “if you’re measuring in terms of the number of eyeballs, you’ve just lost the credibility of your CFO!” As you plunge into your strategy you will repeatedly have to justify the time and future expense of what you are doing to get management buy-in.
“We looked at the competitors in our marketplace and very few are using social media well and none of them have really taken a strong role in thought leadership. We think this could have some enormous opportunity for us. The challenge we have is getting the buy-in to actively involve more of our talented employees in this process,” says Laura.
You first need buy-in of your management team on your initial strategy to get buy-in to use these talented employees. In the end it is a matter of showing social media as a solution to doing more with less and then involving the management team and talented front line employees to carry out the strategy that will become a big part of the future success of your bank.
Of course it’s not just banks that are in need of buy-in to get a social media strategy up and running. New research has found that 72 percent of businesses using social media do not have a clear layout of goals or strategy. As manifested before, a lot of this comes from not having a clear understanding of what the ROI looks like, something that keeps management from buy-in.
Rob Ployhart, a professor of business administration at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, says that “the data businesses are looking for will be available within three to five years, making social media more credible in the eyes of some businesses. In the meantime, however, businesses can still utilize social media as a part of their business. Ployhart recommends businesses set clear goals and policies to maximize the impact that social media can have within an organization. Overall, Ployhart says businesses must have confidence in social media above all else in order to reap the benefits that it can offer.”
The take away here comes down to one word…strategy. Strategy can paint a picture of the benefits of doing more with less and what ROI looks like now and in the future. All of this provides a strong case to full company buy-in, specifically management.
“In today’s world, we are all interconnected. Companies that are thinking about this proactively are the ones that are probably going to have an advantage in leveraging this technology,” Ployhart said. “I’d be surprised if the first few companies that get in there don’t have a lasting competitive advantage.”
Print is not dead, but it seems to be getting demoted and in the case of newsweek…fired! In a recent article by Kai Ryssdal, Newsweek magazine calls it quits, Kai points out what many are calling the inevitable, but is hesitant in his praise of the move saying, “Newsweek may or may not make it, but what this does is say — more and more and more — that news and media are going to live digitally. That’s where we have to go.”
I believe print should still exist and folks should transition into digital slowly, or “have a high tolerance for unproven investment,” according to Barry Diller, whose company IAC has a controlling stake in Newsweek Daily Beast. Although some have been saying print is dead since 1984: Egon’s thoughts on print in Ghostbusters.
At Brass Media Inc., the digital transition was happening as I first began working for the 10-year-old company. At Brass we believe print is important, but it may be better suited existing as a co-pilot. Brass started out as a magazine and now their secret sauce is in an Exchange of information. Our target audience are young adults and our goal is interesting topics on the Money side of Life.
Forbes put forth a short article, Print is Dead? Not so Fast., gets to the point better than I do. They talk about some of the advantages of print, like tangibility, credibility, branding, target marketing, more engaging and less print ads and show an example of how QR Codes could play a role in bridging the digital gap. In the end, as the article concludes it perfectly: “Finding the right balance between various media will ensure a steady revenue flow, an increase in sales and new customers.” So think twice before delving into dogmatic change.
Adopting a mascot at your financial institution could significantly help engagement with your customers, while making your branding efforts easier. One financial institution, Middleburg Bank, has not necessarily out foxed anyone, but rather out focused other banks in their marketing approach around their “spokesfox”, Mosby.
As Mosby says on Middleburg Bank’s Website: ” I have been associated with the Bank since 1924, when the first office of Middleburg Bank opened across from the Red Fox Inn. ‘Why is a fox associated with Middleburg Bank?’ you might ask. Well, for generations, we foxes have long been a part of the culture of Middleburg and the surrounding areas of Virginia. As the fox is an intelligent, resourceful animal (if I do say so myself), I was chosen to represent the spirit of the bank and I’ve been an integral part of the Bank’s identity for many years. A couple of years ago, the Bank wisely made the decision to feature me as their “spokesfox” and since that time, my role within the Bank has continued to grow. In fact, last month Gary let me take over the Bank’s Facebook page and interact there with our many clients and fans.”
I’m on hundreds of bank websites/social media pages each week and Middleburg Bank really stands out, thanks to Mosby. In talking to Robert Miller, Chief Marketing Officer at Middleburg Bank, he says that without Mosby, their marketing would look very different “with messages built around products, rates and commitment to the community. While we still touch on some of those things in our
current marketing, using Mosby has allowed us to develop a distinctive identity, voice and personality. We believe that over the long haul, this approach will drive the brand’s likeability and help separate us from the pack.”
I can identify with this, stemming from a couple of my own experiences. Universities use mascot’s for the same purpose as banks; to symbolize the identity of the group, school, city or community for which it represents. I was the Cougar mascot (Butch T. Cougar) of Washington State University. I was surprised about how much time I had to put in to understand the personality of Washington State’s beloved mascot. The Cougar mascot before me was Blitz the Seahawk for the Seattle Seahawks and he helped train me. This may sound silly, but there were three of us all playing the role of Butch T. Cougar and we all needed to have the same walk, mannerisms etc. They took this serious enough that I was not allowed to tell anyone who I was. It was to remain a secret until right before I graduated.
Yet another example comes from when I did a couple of appearances as Chase the Dog, while working for Chase Bank. Now, I was there during the “fun” occupy movement and let’s just say Chase wasn’t seen as the best bank in the universe, yet there was more engagement happening in our branch around a mascot that couldn’t talk then we had prior. People could identify with the personality of a dog; loyal, happy, loveable and eager to meet new people.
So what’s the point? Well, so many financial institutions have enough people working on marketing, that it’s hard to find one voice or one personality. Having one voice and personality is so important and nobody knows what that voice and personality looks and sounds like better than the bank. There is an Irish Proverb that says, “The fox never found a better messenger than himself.” This is so important because if someone else does all the work, you may have a very different voice/personality and this could compromise your brand. When asked by folks why I love Washington State so much, all I have to do is describe the personality of the mascot I worked so hard to become; Courageous no matter what, community focused, VERY spirited, kind, and willing to waive the flag anytime, anywhere. How do you easily describe your bank’s voice/personality without your financial institution just adding to all the white noise? I know how Middleburg Bank does…