Matt Andresen

Former mascot, banker, co-owner of web analytics co. and financial advising co. Currently PR, content and analytics marketing dude with Cleland Marketing.


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Why Encouraging Childlike Creativity is Essential in Business

Caeden Painting - Blog PicKids are naturally creative. If left to their own devices with crayons, paint—even a cardboard box, wonderful things often blossom. So what happens as we get older? Many people think kid “lose” that creativity. However, it’s really the grownups who take it away from them—and that’s a real shame.

Think about it. As adults we tend to mold our kids, push them in certain directions, and stifle their natural creative instincts. And it starts early with statements like:

“Don’t color outside the lines.”

“You didn’t do it like I told you to.”

“That’s not how it’s ‘supposed’ to be done.”

“Stop running around and sit still!”

I’m sure you can remember others that were told to you as a child. In an effort to keep life on an even keel, we force our children to conform their activities to a strict set of procedures. And eventually, it beats them down. They start to doubt themselves. They interact less—and even become fearful in certain situations. This isn’t something that just “happens” to them; it’s inflicted upon them.

Caeden and Tree SkirtSpend time with very young children, and you’ll soon notice that they default to happy. They sing at the drop of a hat. They skip rather than trudge. And as a parent I think we need to encourage this—not penalize it—because that creative spontaneity is sorely needed in the adult world of business. Why? Because innovation springs from creative thought. When a child is happy and relaxed rather than stressed, they think better and learn faster. They’re also nicer to people and build stronger relationships.

The same thing happens in business. Companies that create stressful environments, and stifle creativity, are not known for innovation. When employees are shot down for offering up new ideas often enough, they simply stop offering them. They learn not to rock the boat—to just get by and collect a paycheck—and also protect their turf (which doesn’t lead to good relationship-building… or strong, innovative, thriving organizations!)

On the other hand, companies that are always innovating generally have a much more energized set of employees because they have a less rigidly structured environment. They create the space and time for people to doodle, daydream and collaboratively think up out-of-the-box ideas. They reward those ideas—even if they fail—because they understand that it’s essential to encourage that type of thinking in order to keep innovations happening.

For instance, in Google’s  ITO program (Innovative Time Off),  employees spend 80% of their time on core projects, and about 20% on company-related innovation activities that interest them personally, and it has been a huge success. In fact, it’s reported that Gmail, Google News and AdSense were products that originated from the ITO program.

Another organization that encourages innovation is Adobe. The company created an entire division devoted to innovation, and developed a leadership position dedicated to championing innovation at all levels within the company.

These are just two examples of companies that “get it” and understand the importance of unleashing creative thinking in the workforce. There’s no doubt in my mind that more companies need to shift their culture to encourage the natural creative instincts of their employees. However, as a parent, I think that nurturing creativity must start at home. We need to be mindful of how our actions will forever shape the way our children interact with the world. Let’s encourage them to be spontaneous, creative and joyful. Who knows what innovations they’ll dream up?

And as employees we need to start a revolution of creative thought, empower our co-workers and subordinates to freely express ideas and truly jump into the creative process. We need to push this up to the c-suite and help them to understand the value. Social Media, internal and external to the organization, can help us do that in ways we never could before. Let’s make 2013 the year of opening up the floodgates to creative and innovative thought… at home, at work, and at play.

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Movenbank On The Future Of Financial Services

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.

ABA Marketing Confernce - Brett King

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.


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18 Ways to Engage and Build Teams in a Social Era

Social has taken away numerous connection barriers within the workplace, giving companies more direct access to not just push information out to their employees, but to actively engage in ongoing conversation with them and allow them to do the same. All the talk I see is about consumer engagement reaching out and creating conversation with customers and potential customers, but how about with those even more important… your employees, co-workers, and yes, even the dreaded C-Suite.

“Fear has to be left at the door, and social platforms where your employees already live can be leveraged in this respect.”

Companies often forget about their employees and do not realize that not only are they their most valuable asset from a production, sales, operational standpoint, but that they are and should be their most valuable advocates. Empower those who work for you to create conversation and represent your brand—especially those who have a customer service or customer-facing role.

If they build it, service it or sell it, they’re in a perfect position to communicate with your audience in a way that humanizes your brand, but only if you let them. And the best way to begin this process is to not only allow, but empower communication within the organization. Fear has to be left at the door, and social platforms where your employees already live can be leveraged in this respect. Companies that censor employees on social media are only hurting themselves. Use these platforms to build a culture that encourages teamwork, friendship, loyalty and fun… yes, FUN!

“All the talk I see is about consumer engagement reaching out and creating conversation with customers and potential customers, but how about with those even more important… your employees, co-workers, and yes, even the dreaded C-Suite.”

Many companies that are fearful of social media put muzzles on their employees in an effort to control the social conversation. However this conversation is what can add value, create a strong bond with the company and foster relationships that will be the glue that binds, motivates, and drives everyone to succeed.

“Companies that censor employees on social media are only hurting themselves. Use these platforms to build a culture that encourages teamwork, friendship, loyalty and fun… yes, FUN!”

Companies we need to seize the moment and learn to look forward to the things sitting right under all our noses. It can be the simple things that connect employee to employee and leadership to everyone. That type of thinking will tap into our heart’s posture… unite us, make us look out for one another, and build a loyalty that allows a company to thrive for the long-term. It’s way too easy to miss out on how this can build a powerful workforce there for each other everyday.

Here are 18 ways to empower, encourage, and build a team that thinks of itself as a family…

1. Let them try.

2. Let them make mistakes.

3. Set goals with them.

4. Hold them accountable.

5. Tell them you are proud of them.

6. Fight for them.

7. Let them learn to fight for themselves.

8. Do not let fear dictate.

9. Look them in the eye when they talk.

10. Let them dream.

11. Let them see you dream.

12. Let them create.

13. Let them imagine.

14. Listen, listen, listen to them.

15. Give them grace.

16. Take breaks.

17. Learn to adapt.

18. Embrace who they are.

“Tell a child, a husband or an employee that he is stupid or dumb at a certain thing, that he has no gift for it, and that he is doing it all wrong and you have destroyed almost every incentive to try to improve. But use the opposite technique, be liberal with encouragement; make the thing seem easy to do, let the other person know that you have faith in his ability to do it, that he has an undeveloped flair for it — and he will practice until the dawn comes in at the window in order to excel.” ~Dale Carnegie

Connect with Ted Rubin

Ted is the co-author of Return on Relationship™. Pre-order your copy here. Ted is also the Chief Social Marketing Officer at Collective Bias.

Follow Ted on Twitter @TedRubin.


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Bank Spotlight: First National Bank – The Return on doing More with Less

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.”


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Why are You Losing Sales? Perhaps Your Trust Gauge is Low.

Marketing and Behavior-Change Mashup

The way that I see it, all businesses with a Web presence are participating in a behavior-change lifecycle. Whether they know it or not.

Just like teaching someone to quit smoking involves awareness of the benefits to a healthier lifestyle, so does your business require raising awareness among the market for its benefits and market value-proposition.

Creating Awareness Touchstones

Marketing is traditionally seen as the process of building a base and creating touchstones for contact. Through social media engagement, you can create awareness of your brand through consistency. Whether your platform-of-choice is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, or some other flavor, they each offer the ability to connect with the untapped market.

By being consistent with your social media engagement, your audience can rely upon you. And, if your message is a value-proposition that resonates with your audience, customers will become more aware through consistency.

Your Trust Gauge

Your audience will reach a point where they will be ready to explore your product or service. At this time, you will have built trust through consistency with engagement in your social media platform. They will have increased confidence that you are able to deliver upon your value-proposition, because you’ve been reliable and consistent.

Through responding with your platform to current customers, you show care in the success of delivery of your product or service. If customers voice dissatisfaction, you want to let them know:

  1. You hear them.
  2. You care that there was a failure.
  3. And, you will do whatever you can to help that customer achieve their needs and remedy the situation.

On the positive side, when customers voice satisfaction or gratification to you through your social media platform, encourage evangelism. Through Yelp, Google Local, or Yahoo reviews, Facebook Likes, or Twitter Recommendations. They can recommend or endorse you on LinkedIn, or provide a testimonial for your website.

Recognize and celebrate your happy customers. Make them feel good for having gone with your brand. Again, like helping someone quit smoking, you want to have them feel part of a successful community. Recommendations to friends and testimonials are not only beneficial to you, but also beneficial for your customers in fostering a growing successful community.

Inevitable Goal Tending

The resounding note that you want to leave with your social media platform is that you care about helping people achieve their goals, and not just in making a single-sale. You are encouraging behavior-change and fostering of a successful and happy community of customers.

By building your trust gauge through consistency and engagement with social media, you’re successfully nurturing a healthy marketing and customer lifecycle.