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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Wake Up! It was just a Debt Nightmare.

Debt Nightmare

Click on the picture above to see an awesome and short Brass Media DEBT Trailer.

Not too long ago I remember having bad weekly nightmares.  I started writing them down when I woke up and I struggled to understand their meaning.  The good dreams made more sense or at least had a higher meaning with a possible life lesson, but the nightmares didn’t seem to serve a purpose, other than to lengthen my anxiety…until I looked at what might be causing them; my debt.

According to a Huffington Post Article, “Not all nightmare triggers have to be traumatic, however. Everyday stressors, such as job or financial anxiety, or major life transitions such as moving or divorce, can also cause nightmares.”

I remember having one dream so real and scary that I still remember it vividly, but when I woke up the first thing I thought of was my debt.  The dream was about being forced with others to enter a gladiator type ring with very unstable bulls.  I guess that is what debt feels like; having to fight off unstable bulls constantly.  From my personal experience, the only chance at survival is to come up with a plan and find help.

Since I work for a company in the field of financial education (Brass Media), I get to see a lot of what is out there in attempt to make people more aware, which is why so many groups target middle and high schoolers.  It should be understood though, that while teaching those how to handle their money (that don’t yet know any better), it’s equally important (if not more so),  to teach those who learned the hard way…like me.

This nightmare of mine translated into a small nightmare for my bank (there will be a future blog post just about this), since I was no longer a “sticky” product customer. When my debt started getting out of control, the last thing I thought about was getting a loan or starting a savings account (let alone worrying about direct deposit or bill pay – yikes!), yet my banker would ask me all the time about both, without targeting the real issue: my debt nightmare.

Dreams are literally wounded by debt and until others understand how debt can enslave and starve a person, there may never be a good cure.  Living within your means may be trying and painful at times, but it is better than living with debt.  If, like Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs said, “It’s all about the Benjamins,” then maybe it’s best to look to Mr. Franklin to get some sound advice: “Rather go to bed with out dinner than to rise in debt.”

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Along side this blog post is a relevantly parallel article (below) taken from the Brass Media Archives on the good and bad of having a Credit Card (Click on the image below to enlarge the article for reading).

clutchesofcredit - Original

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Customer Service Twits

Bird-Gang-Big

As my grandmother told me often, we have two ears and one mouth, so by design we should listen more than we talk.  I used twitter for a while without ever tweeting anything.  I listened to what my competitors had to say and what people were saying about me.  Then I slowly started tweeting.  The important thing is to decide how you are going to use twitter.

When I was at Banker at Chase Bank , they were pretty early adopters of this type of social media.  I believe they used it primarily to monitor their brand and then started using it  as a more swift customer service tool.  They say that every complaint is a possible opportunity, and Twitter allows you to exploit this.  They started seeing better customer service scores and while bonuses were always based solely on checking accounts open (campaign), they started realize Twitter played a part push branch bonuses more toward service. Every single bank I talk to says that it is their service that makes them stand apart, yet so few are using the ONE tool that can exponentially make this a reality.

Still don’t believe me?  Well, at Chase,  I tested to see if they were paying attention (which previously they were not).  I made a facetious comment about getting moving walkways into branches so it would force the confused customer into more efficiently ‘get in and get out’ strategy.  I was later written up by my boss for inappropriate use of technology because this made it all the way up to Jamie Dimon, the Chase CEO. It was like watching a blooper reel as my boss sat me down to “write me up”; he couldn’t stop laughing.  He was also in disbelief.  I just sat back, smiled and exclaimed, “Wow, they really ARE paying attention now!”

So…if this type of medium can get the attention of the CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world, how do you think it will work on your current and potential customers.  Give it some thought and stop being a twit and start with reading a tweet.


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Financial Education: A Bank Do-It-Yourself Project

Me at CV1

Repping my Brass T-Shirt during a financial education discussion at my alma mater, Crescent Valley High School in Corvallis, OR

Benjamin Franklin said, “An Investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”  Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), furthered this sentiment with bankers at the American Bankers Association’s annual convention on Monday, when he told bankers to “push for financial education for young people at the state level in order to bring up a new generation of responsible borrowers.”

This is all well and good, but how many times do speakers stand up in front of a crowd and inspire them, yet only give very general and unspecific solutions?  I would say most of the time.  Here, Cordray went on to say that, according to a recent article by Philip Ryan, an Associate Editor of Bank Innovation; “Financial responsibility, fostered by education, is far better. Bankers should realize, however, that not all participants in the financial system will receive financial education in the home, and that, therefore, an effort must be made to get this education into the schools so that young people learn the virtues of saving and responsible borrowing early in life.” This may still seem general and unspecific, but it’s a start.  The solution lies within the commitment of the banks.

There is a very specific solution, but it only comes from consistent action.  At Brass we have one such solution; the Brass Student Program, but don’t think we are the only one.  If anything it serves as an example of a program that works by creating a stronger relationship between the bank and local high schools. When looking into other programs or when you are looking to create one yourself, make sure you understand that, for a bank, there are NO SHORTCUTS to being involved yourself.  This is not like doing a home project yourself to save money.  Curing this problem comes down to relationship building, something that was stressed every hour of every day when I was a banker. I think millennials are starving for banks to put in more authentic time with them to foster a relationship and to help them with money, as seen in this short case study of 6 young adults.

American Author Napoleon Hill once said, “It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project. ” So if you, as a bank, are really serious about relationships, make sure the only shortcut you take is not waiting half your life before realizing the obvious…with help of course.


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SIRIously: Just Type, Read and Follow Directions

SiriToday’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, discussing the type, read and follow directions "strategy".

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.”


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All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Montessori

M is for MontessoriIt 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.

Me - I'm This Many

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”


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Print is dead? Not when you get down to Brass tacks…

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.