Nichole Williamson: Community Banking Evolution and Opportunities

“Mistakes are going to happen and perfection is not the expectation ever we’re humans, we’re all going to screw up at some point when you build strong relationships and loyalty with your clients, as you build that trust, when you make those mistakes, people are more likely to stick around.”



with guest:

Nichole Williamson

Zilker Media

Episode Summary

In the latest episode of the Digital Banking Podcast, Josh DeTar welcomed Nichole Williamson, the Chief Strategy Officer at Zilker Media. They explored the significant role of authentic marketing in community financial institutions. Williamson shared her passion for building genuine connections and the importance of integrating community values into marketing strategies.

DeTar and Williamson discussed the evolving landscape of community banking, emphasizing the necessity of storytelling and relationship-building in a digital age. Williamson highlighted the impact of personalized marketing and its ability to foster trust and loyalty among clients. They both agreed that community banks possess a unique position to enhance their market presence through sincere and impactful communication.

The conversation concluded with a focus on the opportunities for community banks to lead with innovation and intentionality. Williamson underscored the potential for these institutions to not only grow but also profoundly influence their local communities and economies through strategic marketing and community involvement.

Key Insights

Importance of Storytelling in Banking

Nichole Williamson stressed the critical role of storytelling in transforming how community financial institutions (FIs) connect with their customers. She pointed out that during uncertain times, such as the pandemic, community banks that effectively shared their stories and the impact of their actions built stronger trust with their clients. These institutions highlighted their commitment through real, impactful narratives about stepping up for the community, which not only solidified existing relationships but also attracted new customers seeking stability and connection.

Marketing as a Strategic Pillar

Josh DeTar and Nichole Williamson discussed the necessity of viewing marketing as an integral part of a bank’s strategy rather than an afterthought. Williamson emphasized that effective marketing should weave through all aspects of bank operations, from customer service to digital presence. They concurred that marketing is not just about promotion but about deeply embedding the bank’s values and mission into every customer interaction, ensuring consistency and authenticity that resonate with both existing and potential clients.

Building and Maintaining Customer Loyalty

The conversation highlighted the importance of customer loyalty, particularly how community FIs can foster it through intentional engagement and communication. Williamson illustrated that loyalty is not merely about customer retention but about creating advocates for the bank who believe in its mission and services. They explored practical strategies such as prioritizing impactful community involvement and consistently delivering personalized experiences that align with customer expectations and values, thus turning ordinary customers into staunch supporters of the institution.

Guest At A Glance

Nichole Williamson

Zilker Media

Find Williamson On:

Strategist elevating community banks through authentic marketing and relationships.

Josh DeTar: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of the Digital Banking Podcast. My guest today is Nichole Williamson, the chief strategy officer of Zilker Media. Warning. This is probably going to be one of those episodes I’m going to get super fired up about. My guest, Nichole, and I share a kindred spirit in elevating the awareness of community FIs through marketing.

Josh: And we both have some pretty strong feelings on the subject. The reason I’m so excited to have Nichole on as a guest though, is because her fired up passion is really deeply rooted in a genuine and authentic, intentional approach to building relationships. Nichole said the number one most important thing to know about her and her personality is that building connections and relationships is core to her being.

Closely followed by being a hardcore Texas Longhorns fan, obviously. She said, it may sound a little cheesy, but that came from an upbringing where her parents were big relational people. Her dad has [00:01:00] a small community business built around connecting with people and positively impacting their lives. They instilled a foundation in Nichole of when you enter a room, you talk to everyone and you ask genuine questions to get to know people and remember those details.

It was this foundation from her parents coupled with a lesson early in life about the power of community that propelled Nichole to want to do this as a career. You see, in high school, she raised over 60, 000 on Facebook and through other events to build a school in Africa. She realized then that social media was more than just social.

It was really about community. And as a professional, she gets to prioritize customer relationships at a deeper level with a special focus on the banking industry. She recently became a member at the independent bankers association of Texas as a way to give back to a community that she really believes in, but her passion for FIs developed over time.

It was [00:02:00] really seeing community banks stepping up in a crisis without question during the pandemic to offer PPP loans and services. And that was really a view into the strong community support an FI can have. Now, Nichole sees a lot of opportunity to influence the community FI market to help elevate them to the top of people’s mind.

She somehow managed to fit all of this work in around her two busy seasons, though, of four days a week of spring baseball, and in the fall, life’s all about Texas football. Um, but Nichole said she lives by some simple mottos. Really approach everything with intentionality, be loyal even to a fault and treat everyone with the same love and respect and give them the same Nichole, no matter who you are and what part of life you interact with her in.

So with that, Nichole, welcome to the show.

Nichole Williamson: Thank you so much. So excited to be here.

Josh: Uh, I’m, I’m, you know, deeply honored that, uh, you know, you’re not out doing [00:03:00] baseball or football and you’re spending time with me because, uh, was really, uh, very obvious very quickly that those are, those are pretty important things to you.

Nichole: They are, I’m going there tonight. So they had, they, this is actually moved up, so I will be there in a few hours.

Josh: So everybody knows like this podcast has a hard stop. It’s when we got to,

Nichole: Yeah,

Josh: leave for football. So. Um, no, but in all seriousness, like I, I am super excited to have you on as a show, you know, this is a topic that’s come up a handful of times over this podcast. And while a lot of times, you know, we focus on the technology side of, you know, elevating community financial institutions.

I just personally kind of have a big passion for the marketing side of it. Right. And actually just. Putting awareness in front of people. And so anytime I get a chance to talk to somebody who, um, shares and rivals that level of passion, I get really amped up about it. And, and that’s really also obvious from you.

Um, so, you know, when, when you kind of look at the community [00:04:00] financial institution space, like, why do you feel like this conversation needs to be had? Why do you feel like we need to be talking about, um, how community FIs should be thinking about kind of marketing themselves in today’s day and age?

Nichole: Yeah. You know, I think a lot of this comes down to, there’s so many opportunities that are out there to. grow community at a deeper level, um, and missed opportunities at that same rate. Um, I think there’s, you know, we’ve, we’ve always talked about in our industry of the impact of storytelling and how that can make such an impact on a customer, a client, an educating, um, we, you know, everyone knows right now, trust is at an all time low when comes to brands and businesses, people just don’t, there is no trust there.

I think the, the, the banking industry saw a huge wave of that last year, um, with a lot of uncertainty. And it was a great opportunity [00:05:00] for these community FIs to step up and, and showcase like, we were good. We’re going to go that extra mile and here’s how we’re taking care of you. Um, and to me, that was one of the best things I saw as well last year, um, is that touch that extra level of care.

Um, that’s so critical to this thriving business at the same time. You know, I think we lose, um, a lot of opportunity to storytell. I don’t think that’s happening at the rate that it should. Um, you know, there’s fantastic people leading a lot of, a lot of these different banks that I’m a part of and seen and, you know, using these, um, executives, they have incredible stories.

Um, and these teams have incredible stories of how they’ve gotten there. And. The core values and the mission behind their, their bank or their, their FI, whatever it may be, and it’s, how are you sharing that? And how are you showing that? And if you’re not, you’re, you’re really just missing [00:06:00] on a pristine opportunity to grow community and really build customers that are going to last.

Cause that’s what part of this is too, right? People are going to, there’s going to be rates. There’s going to be opportunities to jump to somewhere else that might feel prettier. But when you build a story and a message and a brand that resonates and, and thrives on customer loyalty, you know, that doesn’t happen as much.

And so that’s where you have to focus on. And then that leads to other things like converting business who maybe have their personal to business accounts and all those things that, you know, we all want to see at the end of the day.

Josh: Yeah. You know, I think that’s why I like this, this topic so much. Right. Is that we kind of have all the right ingredients. Right. You have a really great story. You have a deep connection to community. And it’s authentic. It really is. [00:07:00] You know, I’ve probably made this joke too many times on the podcast, but it’s like, you know, when, um, you know, the big oil company comes to me and says like, Oh, we absolutely care about in the environment, just look that way.

When we make the statement, not behind us at what we’re doing over there, right? Like, you know, it’s not that authentic. Like, come on, give me a break, you know, but if a community financial institution comes up to me and says, you know, Hey, we like to do good in the community, like Yeah, you do. I see that.

It’s very evident in so many different manners. So it’s like, we have all of these prime ingredients, but I genuinely am actually. I’m really shocked at how little I see some of that storytelling being done. And you know, we’re all suckers for a good story. You think about, you know, any major Super Bowl commercial that gets talked about for weeks after the Super Bowl, right?

It’s usually like the big, heavy tear jerker or one that’s got the, the real meat and potatoes of a story behind it that you’re like, Oh yeah, that hits home for me. [00:08:00] And if I even just look at the guests I’ve had on this podcast over the years, So many of them. I’m like, Hey, why are you passionate about community?

FIs? Like, why do you work at one? Why do you, do you start a company to support them? They’re like, Oh, because of this story. And I’m like, these stories are everywhere.

Nichole: Right. Someone had a positive experience at one point and it altered their trajectory forever. And so many times that is not talked about or showcased and it should be showcasing one, the amazing work that you’re doing in your community and with your clients as well as, you know, so many of these community banks are volunteering in the community and not talking about it.

They’re like, well, you know, we don’t, we don’t want to have an ego behind us. Like it’s not an ego. It’s all about impact. And that is really what you have to showcase is we are having this impact. And when you’re showcasing that you’re building that trust, people in the community see that they [00:09:00] resonate with it.

They love that you’re passionate about the community that they live in and it builds that customer loyalty over time. And so you, you kind of have to have that mindset shift of. Well, we don’t want to share it because we don’t want to make it about us. Well, I love that, but it’s not, it isn’t about you in that sense of where you’re spending your time, but you have to showcase the work that you’re doing.

You should be talking about your client stories and the wins and successes that you’re having. It’s, it’s kind of going that extra mile on that and, and just kind of changing it impact versus ego. That’s what I always try to reinforce.

Josh: Um, what’s a good example of that? I’m like, how have you seen some good examples of somebody really doing a good job of kind of highlighting the impact without having an ego or it remaining like kind of true to their brand?

Nichole: Yeah, um, you know, I’m very fortunate to work with several different, um, uh, banks [00:10:00] around the Austin area. And I love that they all are passionate about their community that they live in and serve. And, um, they do a great job of showcasing it, um, because they know it’s important and it’s critical. Um, one has even, um, actually both of them, I think now have created these philanthropic arms of their business.

They, they have dedicated time to talk about resources and volunteer hours, and that’s pretty common for other businesses and other industries. Um, and so I love that it’s reaching that, like you are, it’s literally in your name, like community bank, um, of the type of type of institution that you are. It’s so important to again.

Have that side of your business. And so I love that. I think there’s a, and I think there’s a lot of people doing this, just not showcasing it to, I know people are spending the time, especially in these smaller communities that need so much support. Um, you know, I, I saw a really interesting [00:11:00] one. Um, when the Uvalde, um, incident happened here in Texas, you know, it was so horrific.

And, uh, the bank in that community did a whole thing of support for them. They stepped up and donated and took in donations and there’s things like that. Like, you know, that is obviously such a horrific, um, story and thing that happened to their community. But I loved seeing how a bank just took the initiative and, you know, And served them during that time.

Josh: You know, it’s an interesting perspective on that. Actually, now that I think about it, you know, we talk about how much, whether we like it or not, like our lives do revolve around money, right? It’s a really huge part of, of our everyday lives. And, um, You know, I think it was said best once money really buys freedom, especially in day and age.

Right. And so having access to funds, having access to capital [00:12:00] buys a lot of freedom, but it’s actually more so felt when, when you don’t have access to freedom because of lack of funds or capital or access to it. So. And, you know, a lot of times that does manifest itself in horrific scenarios. And it’s like, Hey, you know what?

We, we were actually doing halfway decent. Maybe we weren’t even quite living paycheck to paycheck anymore, but you know, how many of us are truly prepared for like catastrophic financial impacts?

Nichole: right.

Josh: know, barring insurance and things, I’d say most of us are not right. And so whether. Banks and credit unions, you know, want to be, they are kind of in the middle of our lives at our best and our worst.

And so they do kind of have a really unique opportunity where it’s like, yeah, I mean, We’re not necessarily the ones providing say relief aid or [00:13:00] counseling for families in that scenario. But let’s be honest, like money is going to help this scenario and being able create avenues to get that to the right people in the right ways.

And coming from a heart of a community bank, that’s rooted in that community. That’s customers are those people that are impacted, like their level of care is going to be very different than a FinTech. That happens to house everybody’s money and it’s distributed all over.

Nichole: Right. Exactly. You know, there’s so many stories, um, that have things and positive things too, that happen in communities that they’ve been able to support. And I think a good, always reminder of that is, you know, everyone’s got even a story of like, you know, my parents set up an account for me at a credit union.

And I still have that account today. I’ve never touched it, but it’s exist. And my parents still bank there because that’s where they’ve done business for 40 years and they wanted me to bank there too. And that those things are happening and [00:14:00] you want to create an environment of trust across the board, whether I just graduated college and I need to create a savings account for the first time in my life and I need education on it.

Or I’m starting a business for the first time, or I’m buying a house or I’m buying a second house. Like you want someone through that process with you at every level that you can go back to. And I love that aspect about this. And that’s why I think there’s so many missed opportunities of people showcasing what they’re doing because I’m like, yeah, you’re, you’re not just coming in the door to provide a loan or you’re coming in the door to help them grow their You know, deposits, whatever it is, you are stepping in to a family and helping support them and their generational goals.

And how are you showcasing that and how are you, how are you messaging that out there? It

Josh: the word a few times, but like trust, like trust is a part of that. And to your like trust is one of those things that’s really hard to build [00:15:00] and it’s really easy to break, right? I mean, think about it in so many different aspects of our life, but absolutely our finances is one of those.

And I think too, you look at some of the even younger generations. And trust and loyalty is actually really, really huge to them. There’s a lot of data that shows, um, that, you know, the generations coming behind us, they’re actually really, really partial to community and to building, um, you know, relationships with the people that they do business with and then remaining loyal to that.

Um, and at the same time, you know, leveraging the efficiencies of big brands and big names and things like that. But there’s, there’s definitely an attachment to that community feel when, when they feel like that’s going to have an impact, right? Like if I’m just ordering. I don’t know, garbage bags. Um, I could drive to the local hardware store and probably buy a bag of, um, you know, garbage bags, or I [00:16:00] could order them off Amazon and they could be on my doorstep tomorrow and I wouldn’t have to go anywhere.

Nichole: Right. Exactly.

Josh: like commodity service side, but if it’s. You know, Hey, I’m trying to build my first deck on my first house. Like, I really want to be able to work with somebody local and go talk to my local hardware store and, um, you know, get recommendations for the best products to use. And so I think you’re seeing a lot of that.

I think you’re seeing a lot of like, I use the Etsy example a lot, like Etsy wouldn’t work if people weren’t into, you know, kind of buying from a community based vibe. And so again, you know, community financial institutions, You automatically fit that mold of what people are kind of looking for.

Um, it’s building that trust, like you were talking about, so that they know this is the place that they can trust. It’s gonna be a little bit different than what they see just online.

Nichole: Right. And you bring up such a good point on the younger generations. We, we’ve been, we’ve heard that a lot as of late, like we’re targeting, trying to get that younger demographic in here. And [00:17:00] while, and yes, you have to have robust products. You’ve got to have great online mobile banking. Like those things are so important.

Efficiency, high end look and feel your website’s got to look great. It’s important. It cannot look dated. That younger demographic will completely cancel you out. If it looks like something, um, from the nineties, it’s not going to work. Like those things are so important to your brand. It’s gotta be an elevated,

high-end look and feel, they really visually relate to that. Um, millennials do as well. At the same time, you’re right though. They are making decisions on brand trust and impact. What are you doing in the community with your resources? How are you leveraging those relationships? How are you connecting individuals?

Um, you say you’re a community bank and these are your core values. Well, I would like to see proof of what that looks like. That’s how they’re making decisions in everything in their lives. And so again, it comes [00:18:00] down to, are you showcasing that? What does that look like? And then on your technology side, is it up to speed enough?

And does the look and feel represent the work that you’re doing? Because you cannot let that get stagnant. It, it will, it will have long term impact.

Josh: Yeah. I think it creates an interesting challenge and opportunity for community FIs in, um, you know, I think you and I were talking about this, um, before we started recording of just like marketing has changed globally, right? Marketing has changed globally. It was not just about sending out like postcards anymore you know, taking out an ad in the times and, and things like that.

I mean, there’s just the number of different avenues to do marketing today is ridiculous. Um, and you’ve got to be in all of them. Uh, All times and you’ve got to be hitting the mark in all of those places. And it’s a really tall order, but especially for community financial [00:19:00] institutions, when in reality, like the, the past competition that they had was so localized, it was basically, it was me or the other community bank in the area, or the big national bank who also has a branch in the area. And now, you know, I can be a member of a community bank, I am Wichita, Kansas, Portland, Oregon. Like, so if they really, and truly want to compete for my business and get me, um, it’s not just going to be the same fight that it used to be. Right. So you’ve got to start, know, really rethinking how important an integrated marketing team to the entire organization is and just how many things marketing touches.

And so, yeah, you’ve got to be building trust with people in saying, Hey, these are the things that we do in our community. This is the products and services that we offer that demonstrate to you that we’re going to have your back from a financial stability [00:20:00] standpoint. And oh, by the way, we have the look and feel that you want, because I want to go back to what you were talking about there.

I mean, that’s really important. Um, I’m going to probably get like drug out into the street and kicked a few times for what I’m about to say. But like, I can’t tell you how many times we start talking to a community financial institution. And one of the first things I do is go to their website to try and understand what some of their core values are, ascertain what some of maybe their strategic objectives are, what’s their brand, their voice.

And I’m like, Oh, where is that website from? That is like 1996 if we’re lucky. Um, and. You know, if I’m having that same emotional reaction to the brand in a digital space, because it’s really obvious that it just hasn’t, it hasn’t been something that’s been prioritized, right? But then I go into your boardroom meeting and I ask what your strategic objectives are and you say you’re trying to appeal to a younger demographic, there’s a disconnect there.

[00:21:00] And it’s almost like this awkward thing to talk about putting money like real money in a marketing programs at community financial institutions. Um, but it kind of has to happen, right? Right.

Nichole: I, I always laugh ’cause like you’re talking about how people used to find their banks in the past. Like, you, you would bank with who you went to church with or who was a, you know, you met and you had lunch with, but that’s just how you, how. That worked and you’re right. There’s so many options now and there’s so many competitors and people are saying very similar things if you just search for it.

And so how are you differentiating yourself? Yes, you have to invest in marketing. It cannot be an afterthought. It cannot be just an intern who posts on social. I see that so much. The intern is great. They should support and they should learn. And that’s fantastic. But you got to have a marketing person, a director or a team [00:22:00] or an agency that you’re working with, whatever it is driving that strategy, and it’s got to be strategic, it cannot be just, Hey, again, we posted this, we send out an email, you know, a couple of times a year.

Um, we sent out a great holiday card and that be it. It’s not going to do anything. And that, and then you’re probably saying like, well, we did marketing and it didn’t work. Well, absolutely. That did not work. That is completely ineffective. Those things are great in a couple of key pieces, but you have to really look at things from, okay, we have to have one, we’ve got to be building an email list.

You should be getting your customer’s emails. Every time you interact and talk to someone and you’re onboarding them, I still see that not happening, which is shocking to me. You have to do that. People are going to communicate through email. We are seeing open rates of 70 plus percent, 60 to 70 percent on email open [00:23:00] rates.

The industry average for most email rates is like 18%. So you’ve got a such a direct voice. To their inbox people open their their emails when it comes from their bank. It’s probably important So you’ve got to reach them through those tools you know, I really love investing in earned media So having and positioning a thought leader your executive your bank president your COO Whoever it is to start that storytelling for your business and be the honor and back to the bank And that can work for recruiting that can work for prospects that can work for investors.

You can get out there and share your core values and your mission so easily by doing things like a podcast or go being on a contributed article where you’re talking about the industry and your credentialing yourself so much by aligning yourself [00:24:00] with another authority figure and you’re sharing it and you’re remarketing it on your platforms.

And people are like, Oh, Well, I saw that the CEO of X bank was just on this podcast talking about the rates, you know, I’m going to go check them out. And clearly he’s an expert on this because he was on this. That builds trust immediately. You trust the people that you see out there speaking to it. And so all of those things play a factor.

And I know something else you and I talked about before this was, um, Marketing also goes to the in-person side of that. When someone comes in to your bank in person, what does that experience look like for them? Is someone getting up, shaking their hand, sitting down with them, offering a drink, warm and friendly, inviting them in.

Is the executive coming out of his office or her office to shake their hand, welcome them in, how can we help you? Like that stuff goes so far. And then from there, if [00:25:00] they’re signing up, What does that process look like after that? Who’s following up and calling them? Who’s giving a handwritten note? Who’s making sure that they got their account set up correctly in 48 business hours?

What’s the email follow up? Did their email get on the list to receive information? Did they get set up on mobile and is it working for them or do maybe they’re not great at mobile banking? Does someone need to sit down and train them on how to use this and have direct access to their accounts? So if things are flagged, it’s more accessible to them.

It’s just kind of changing that of like everything is marketing and you’ve got to look at the strategy from top to bottom Start to finish Every little piece of inviting and warmth. It’s all of it. So that’s my rant for today on it That’s my that is my whole thing for it

Josh: No, I love it. And again, I think this is why I was so excited to have you on as a guest is because, you know, I think if we’re truly honest with ourselves, right? Absolutely. [00:26:00] Everything we do in life is sales. Everything you’re trying to do is sell something, right? I’m trying to sell my wife every day to keep loving me.

Right? Like, I mean, everything we do is trying to sell people on stuff. Right. And, and marketing is kind of the engine behind driving that, right?

Nichole: exactly

Josh: about now, now I’m really devolving the conversation, but like, you know, yeah, literally like, um, I can’t see it in the camera angle of, uh, of the podcast, but a lot of people who are on zoom calls always comment on, I have a poster in my office. says, don’t ever stop dating your wife and don’t ever stop flirting husband. Right. And so, you know, using that analogy, it’s like, ah, I’m trying to sell my wife every single day on, you know, loving me and choosing me and vice versa and, and really maintaining the relationship that we have. That’s our marriage.

And she sees a lot of that through the marketing, right? Like if I get her flowers, that’s a marketing effort to show [00:27:00] That I’m trying to like put forth the genuine effort to that relationship, to make the sale for that day that I’m demonstrating to her that I love her and I want her to love me back.

Right. And so it’s like everything that we do, even within our community financial institution. As crazy as it sounds, like everything is kind of a marketing and sales effort. We want our customers, we want our members to continue to love us, to trust us, to be loyal to us, um, to want to come to us first when they have needs or when they have opportunities or challenges.

And so we have to have those touch points with them. We have to send them flowers. We have to show them every morning that, you know, we want to wake up and make them breakfast. Like that’s the kind stuff that’s going to create brand loyalty. And it is, and that comes down to a marketing function. So when your financial institution says, Oh yeah, we have one intern in marketing, like you have a problem.

I’m really sorry. Uh, you know, I’ll give it, I’ll give a shout out. I super cool. I’ve been, [00:28:00] uh, just over the last little bit, I’ve had a really, really cool opportunity, um, to form this really neat partnership with one of the biggest credit unions on the West coast, first tech credit union. And. Through this partnership of what we’re working on and some of the nonprofit community side of things that they this credit union, Nichole, like I’m sorry, like the amount of community work that they do is ridiculous.

Um, I mean, they legit have a community garden that donates all the to local food banks and stuff on their headquarters campus, right? Like, I mean, just the level that they go to is amazing. But what I also thought was really cool, the more I got kind of ingrained in working in this partnership with them was I got to work with a lot of their marketing team and it came back to my marketing team.

I’m like, look, we’re a well invested software company. We’ve got a big, you know, head count and I wish I had the marketing team. First tech does man. They got a huge team. I was like, that’s so awesome. I’m like, that actually really excites [00:29:00] me because I also see first tech out in the community.

Demonstrating through marketing what they’re doing the community, right? All they had to do was make one phone call and for the launch of what we were working on, um, on Monday, they had local news stations there, right? Because they built that credibility because they had put the effort into, you know, putting a marketing engine behind that.

They were marketing internally, externally, and like, that is such a great example of. Quite frankly, why that’s such a very successful credit union.

Nichole: Right. And I, I love stories like that. You know, there was one, um, here in, in the Georgetown area outside of Austin, they paid for school lunches, um, for kids who had like school lunch debt that couldn’t afford to pay for them. And they paid for like multiple school. And I thought that was just the coolest thing ever saw that story the other day on the news.

And you’re, and you’re right though, it’s, It’s just at every level and you know I, I hear so many times [00:30:00] like, and I’m like, well, what is your brand? Like, what do you, what do you want people to say about you after interacting with someone at your bank? What, what do you want them to walk away saying about you from a 30 second to a minute interaction?

How are you portraying that? And a lot of times it’s like, well, my brand, I have a great logo. And I was like, you might have a great logo. That’s very cool. And it looks, could look fantastic, but that is not your brand. That is a piece of it. And it’s great if it’s working for you. And for some people, it may need time to be refreshing that, uh, just as a reminder, those can change too.

Um, but you know, you have to understand who your target audience is and what do you want them to see? To say about you after spending a couple of minutes, whatever it is, or then walking into your bank, what do you want them to leave with? What’s that impression? And if you can’t answer that question, you have some foundational work to be done [00:31:00] because that impacts everything else that happens across the board from the loans to treasury, to everything, to deposit growth.

It’s, and how you’re hiring too should be based off of that. What are the values that you’re trying to portray? And how’s that coming across? And if you’re going to sit down and go on a podcast, you better be certain on what you want people to walk away with and say about the business that you’re, you’re at the forefront of.

And so if you haven’t done that kind of foundational work on that, you know, that’s a really key element that your team and your executive team and your leadership team should really spend some time on.

Josh: Um, you know, again, I probably have referenced this before, but I think it’s still so applicable today and I don’t even know how old it is at this point, but you know, the old Simon Sinek, Ted talk of why, how, what, you know, people don’t buy what you do that by why you do it. And I think that that is so [00:32:00] incredibly directly relevant for community financial institutions, right?

Again, I, I may get kicked for some of the statements I’m going to make on today’s podcast. I’m fully aware and we’ll put on my, you know, I might need to get some football pads from Nichole, but, um, like I see it all the time, right? I’m driving down the highway and I see the ad for the local community bank or credit union.

And the ad is we have X percentage rate on a CD or whatever it may be. Oh, that’s great. But quite frankly, everybody in town can say that. And there might even be somebody nationally. That’s a digital only that’s a niche provider for that one product that might even give me a better rate. Possibly not saying that, right.

But if that’s your biggest differentiator, like that’s what you want people to walk away with is the single biggest message for you. You might open a few of those accounts. Don’t get me wrong. not saying that type of marketing [00:33:00] doesn’t work, but when I see that that’s kind of the only type of marketing that’s happening to your point, that’s not really telling a story.

That’s not really building some level of brand loyalty and trust that makes me want to have a legitimate relationship with you.

Nichole: exactly. And those things should happen. You should be advertising, you know, special rates and the CDs and all those things. And, you know, you can do the Facebook campaigns and all that and emailing that out. You should be doing those things, but you’re right. That can’t be the main driver for what you’re doing, and it can’t be your main positioning.

Because those are going to change. Interest rates are all going to change again. That’s coming. Um, and so you’ve got to have something that stands the test of time in this industry that can go like this all the time. And so, you know, again, like, like last year, there was so much uncertainty and so much fear and the, [00:34:00] and the industry and the banks that did very well were the ones who had built that trust already, they knew they could pick up the phone and call someone and be like, Hey, look, I figured you guys are fine, but this has been really scary.

I feel like I should, I just needed to get on the phone and talk to someone and they know that they can do that. Or they can send an email like, Hey, are my accounts good? Like everything good. And you have to build that. And if for a lot of people, they, they left, if they didn’t feel that at the, at the bank that they were banking with, they left and they found someone else quickly.

And so that can happen. At any point. So try to make that as difficult as possible to happen. Make it where they just can’t leave. Make it where it’s been an experience and white glove service at no matter what size of bank that you are, it should be the same standard. And so that to me, you know, that’s what really builds actual community that last and you have to spend the time in it.

You have to dedicate the resources to it. Um, just [00:35:00] let the marketing budget thrive for a little bit and put the, put some time and energy into it. Um, and don’t let it be an afterthought.

Josh: You know, I went through this exercise recently with my internal team for something kind of different, but it kind of turned into a similar conversation as this, and I think it would actually be a fun, uh, exercise. You know, if you’re an executive at community financial institution, you might have this with your senior leadership team as, as just kind of a fun exercise, but go around and identify what are the brands that you’re loyal to, like personally, like call out what are brands not. institutions, just holistically, like any brands that you are loyal to and that you would be willing to tell everyone, like I am loyal to that brand. And then why, like what makes you loyal about that brand? Um, and you know, use a clothing company for example, right? I doubt it is because one time they offered a really great sale on a pair of [00:36:00] pants, right?

If that was it. And the pair of pants wasn’t that great and the service wasn’t that great. You probably only bought one pair of pants. You didn’t become brand loyal to them, right? So same thing with like, if you offer a great rate on a used auto loan once for them, but that was it and it never went further than that, then yes, you’ve got that one sale, but did it turn into something deeper and you know, you mentioned earlier, and I think it’s worth noting as a part of this, that You do have to check mark multiple boxes, right?

You can’t just create loyalty because of one specific thing and then expect people to stay in a great example of that is Like digital services, like you build this wonderful relationship with them and then they move and they want to stay with you, but they no longer can interact with you physically and your digital is horrific.

Like then they’re not going to stay with you. They’re going to go to, they’re going to move away. So you’ve got to have like some base check, mark the boxes of things. But so I was talking to my product management team and they were asking me about that. They’re like, what [00:37:00] brands are you loyal to and why?

And it really got me thinking. And. And one of the examples that I used was Alaska Airlines. I said, I’m super loyal to Alaska Airlines. Like I am hardcore loyal and I will tell them that to their face. I fly a lot for work and Alaska has a good digital presence. It’s not perfect. Is it the best? I don’t really know, but it does a great job.

So that doesn’t become a hindrance to me. But why I have become so loyal to them is because of the way they have really interacted with me and chosen to proactively build relationship with me, see me as a regular customer, look for ways to make my experiences with them better and unequivocally across the board.

I know anytime I have a problem. They’re there for me. So literal perfect case in point. I mean, just the other day I had an issue with some flights and things happen. And [00:38:00] in hindsight, even looking back on it, I was like, Oh no, you know what? I was kind of outside of their normal scope. Like I understand how that happened, but I called Alaska and the person gets on the phone and they were like, hi, Mr.

Datar. Like, thank you so much for being a loyal Alaska member. Um, you know, what can I help you with? I tell them, they go, well, it’s kind of outside of our normal. Um, But hang tight. I kind of already saw that this was happening. I already got a supervisor involved and, um, I just want to let you know that this has actually been resolved and you’re good.

Thank you so much. Have a great day. And I was like, done. And so when I was to my product management team, you know, they were like, so what does that loyalty mean for you? And I was like, you know what that loyalty means for me is I have to go to Denver a lot. We have, uh, some customers in Denver and Alaska doesn’t have a direct anymore.

Nichole: Hmm.

Josh: through Seattle to go to Denver to stay on Alaska before I will take another airline to go direct. Like that’s level of loyalty I am to [00:39:00] Alaska. And so why I say, I think it would be really, really interesting for, you know, leaders at a community financial institution to do some of this exercise is then ask yourselves how many of your account holders would fly through Seattle to get to Denver.

At your financial institution. Like how many of them would actually accept a little bit of inconvenience because they’re so passionate and loyal about your brand. When you can get to that level of relationship with people, like that’s something pretty special and unique, but it’s a challenge and it takes a lot of work to do that.


Nichole: I, I love that example and I love that, that exercise in question. And I’m. I’m going to be chatting my team after this us to, to go through the same next week. But you know, it’s, it’s so true. And you know, I, I preached something very similarly to my team. And when we talk through things and I’m like, when mistakes are going to happen and perfection is not the expectation ever where people were humans, we’re all going to [00:40:00] screw up at some point when you build strong relationships and loyalty with your clients, as you build that trust.

When you make those mistakes, people are more likely to stick around and mistakes are going to happen and your bank and it’s going to happen. You know, someone’s going to miss an email or the app’s going to go down like those. It’s just life and we all deal with it. But what have you done throughout the last year where that is a minor inconvenience?

And they’re like, okay, great. That’s not ideal to me, but I really value everything else that they’re doing. And so. So, you know, I’m not going to jump ship over this one issue and I’m going to stick it out because or someone contacted me to let me know that there was a problem and they sent out an email to let us know that there was a problem and they were fixing it.

And we have a communication strategy to take care of those things. So much of that again comes into your marketing strategy and having a team able to execute it, which [00:41:00] is half the battle.

Josh: One of my amazing customers made a comment to me once that has just always stuck with me. And I think she framed it so well, at least for me personally. And she made a comment about, um, but kind of what you were saying, like nobody is perfect, right? We’re going to go through highs and lows. And she said, um, so what’s important to her is the relationship that she has with people expecting that a low is going to come.

And that when that comes, that there’s no one else she would rather be in the trenches with than that person. And she kind of used again, kind of the marriage example. And she used her husband, Scott as the example. And she goes, you know, Scott, perfect. No, he pisses me off all the time. She’s like, but I absolutely love him to death.

And when there’s those times where. Um, you know, we’re in a low, there’s no one else in this world I would rather be with [00:42:00] in the trenches than my husband. And she’s like, ’cause I know we’re gonna have each other’s back. She goes, so neither one of us expects each other to be perfect, but we build kind of this trust and relationship so that in those times of lows, there’s no one else I’d rather be with.

And I think that’s also kind of what you’re talking about, right? Is like you look at the, um, um, the SVB crisis that that caused and the trust, um, that, that, you know, broke with some people, you want your account holders to say, like, I have so much trust and faith in this financial institution and the relationship that they’ve built with me that in a time where everybody’s freaking out about a banking crisis, I’m glad I’m in the trenches with them, because I know they’ve me.

And then to your point, like, so much of that comes down to communication, because just, again, in so many other areas of our lives, like, communication is key to this. And so being proactive, being transparent, being vulnerable, being open and creating that trust in [00:43:00] those scenarios where you’re like, Hey, look, we’ve, we’ve done all the legwork to build this bank of trust with you, our consumer, our account holder, and then we’re going to make sure that we demonstrate it and we really put it in front of you when, you know, we need to the most, that just reinforces it.

And to your point, those are probably the types of people. Who had really great experiences with maybe their bank reaching out proactively and being like, Hey, we just want you to know we’ve got you. And here’s how, and if you need us, we’re here for you. That’s probably how you get the people that’ll fly through Seattle to get to Denver.

Nichole: 100 percent exactly. And you, you know, I, I think that’s like the Ritz Carlton way that so many people reference for, you know, customer service and I probably the feedback I get the most when we talk through these strategies because we as a team look at everything at a whole level is, well, we just don’t have the time.

And I’m like, you have, you have to make the time you and, and if you don’t have the time, you got to look at it and readjust somewhere else [00:44:00] because, you know, If you’re not looking at these strategies of how do I make things seamless and what is that communication plan and do we have a crisis comms plan when something blows up inevitably on a Friday at 4 30 in the afternoon like because that’s of course when that time always happens.

What does that, what does that look like? You’ve got, you just have to spend the time and energy on it too. And it can’t, it just can’t be an afterthought. And clients will know, will know when that’s not the priority. Um, they will forget about the grape rate. They will forget about the coffee you maybe handed them when they walked in the door.

If things don’t match each other in every interaction that they have.

Josh: Yeah, that’s a great point. Um, it’s even if you just look at it from a dollars and cents and a time thing, like, What is more difficult, retaining a customer or getting a new one?

Nichole: Exactly. Yes.

Josh: retaining.

Nichole: [00:45:00] Yes. And once you have them, you have such an ability to win them over. Cause you probably, I’m sure it’s rare that people are coming in, like take my business. Here’s my, I want a car loan. I need to get a house loan and I’m moving all my personal deposits and I’m bringing my mother in law with me.

Like that is rare. Like that’s just probably not happening on a regular basis. So you’re, you’re getting an initial touch point. It might be business. It might be personal. And if you do not make one, if you don’t knock it out of the park on the first thing, you’re not ever going to get them on anything else.

And deposit growth is the goal. So how do we get them and make this such an experience and transition from them? And that what’s that marketing strategy to start funneling them into other pieces of the business. And how are you looking at that? And what’s that communication plan where they’re like, Oh yeah, I didn’t actually think about moving my personal site to, I guess I should probably just do that because it’s been so great and easy.

So [00:46:00] you have to really be thinking through that and leveling up the customers that you do have. That’s just another piece to it and building that where they want to do more business with you.

Josh: Um, you know, that’s funny. It makes me think to, uh, again, probably overuse the, the analogy back, um, in this episode, but like you think about, um, referrals are like your best sales tool ever too, right? Like I’m trying to, you know, get my wife to go out on a first date and she doesn’t know who I am, but if I know one of her friends and her friends like, Hey, he’s actually a pretty good guy.

You should go out on that date with him. Like she’s a million times more likely to go on that first date with me, right?

Nichole: Right.

Josh: you could get a customer to say to a prospective customer, Hey, these are great people to do business with. You should do business with them. And again, in the community financial institution space, that’s probably some of your best opportunity to grow and to get that scenario [00:47:00] of, you know what, I’m going to bring my entire relationship over.

I mean, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with friends where, you know, they’re complaining about, you know, this or that about a financial institution. I’m like, Hey, I got the answer for you. It’s called a community financial institution. Like here’s some great recommendations I can make for you.

Right. And now this community financial institution may not have had the same. Any awareness that they just got a brand new customer, but it’s because they got a referral from somebody. So if you build that strong network of loyal customers, they’re going to make referrals for you. They’re going to bring that business.

But then this comes all the way back down to it’s still. I’m going to say, Hey, you should go check out ABC bank down the street. And then they go and they’re like, Oh my gosh, like I can’t find anything on this website. It’s so dated. I can’t get ahold of somebody. Uh, you know, doesn’t look like they have great tech.

You know what? I just get to take an easy path and go to something else. That’s, you know, going to meet my needs. And so kind do have to have all of [00:48:00] those, all of those ducks in a row, but. But yeah, I mean, to your point, like getting, getting good, solid, um, happy referenceable customers is also an important growth strategy.

Nichole: Yeah. And showcase those relationships. Um, that’s one thing we’ve really loved to see is how are you showcasing your, your client base? How are you pointing things back to them? You don’t necessarily have to talk about, Hey, we got them this great deal, but you can showcase like, Hey, congratulations to our client on the launch of their new business.

We’re so proud to support you in this endeavor. Or we were so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to provide funding for their project as they built their new building. Like you can, you can do it subtly, you know, talk about like, Hey, we did this, but showcase it back on them. Make them the star of the show.

Talk about them, storytell about them and relate, make it a relationship building content where you’re featuring it. And let it be known that, Hey, we’re so proud [00:49:00] to work with this business in our community. We’re showcasing them again, that just builds so much trust and it’s got to be the theme of today.

And people love to see that, you know, it’s that work then starts to speak for itself,

Josh: Yeah. I mean, people love to be a part of that all around, right? I mean,

Nichole: right? Exactly.

Josh: good story. They love to be the story. They love to hear the story to see and consume the story. Um, and that is one of the things I do. I really just find it interesting. How much it feels like community financial institutions sometimes are guarded about, you know, again, feeling egotistical about sharing some of those stories.

But, um, you know, I’ve used the example of my own personal. Um, connection to my credit union. And I actually wrote my own personal story up for them and shared it with them. And I was like, go share this story. And I don’t care. Like if people want to call me up, like I would be happy to be somebody that is like, yeah, no, you should absolutely be doing business with this credit [00:50:00] union.

Because they personally saved me. Like I’m really happy about that. And I want that to impact other people’s and I want other people to have stories like mine. So I absolutely guarantee you within your account holder base, there are people like that. There are people that are like, man, they, they were actually a really big part of my story.

And I would be happy to share that story because it did have such a profound impact on my life. And so, you know, your account holder may actually be really, really willing if you just ask, Hey, you know what, would you mind if we shared some of this story? Um, and then people love to see that story. Okay.

Nichole: And what’s the worst they can say? No. Okay, cool. Like it’s fine. It’s fine. You know, I think people are so also scared to hear that word. I’m like, it’s, it’s okay. Someone will probably tell you, no, I don’t want to be publicized or whatever. Um, but you’re going to hear more yeses than you are knows.

And then you’re going to have a really cool marketing tool to showcase your [00:51:00] great work and it’s going to feature other people. And so if you are worried about the ego side, and this is. the step that gets you to even doing this, it’s about someone else. So there’s, you can’t say it’s about ego cause you’re showcasing someone else and you’re, it’s about impact on that.

Um, so this is a great way to start. If that’s a fear of yours is how can you showcase the good work that you’re doing in the community stories that you’re playing a role in for others? Yes.

Josh: I think, you know, you’ve also kind of touched on there’s, there’s a couple of things that people really love to be able to You know, get as content, um, from a marketing engine. And one is literally that feel good side. And another is kind of the thought leadership side. And I think, again, these are just two really strong pillars for community financial institutions that are just in their DNA.

It’s not like they’re having to change something or fake something to try and make a sale. It’s like, we obviously are really, really focused on the feel good stories, the community, the [00:52:00] impact, the relationship we have with our account holders. But at the same time. Like, where do a lot of those stories come from?

It’s because they’ve been there to provide thought leadership for something that’s so quintessential to our lives, our finances for people. And I think there’s also a really big clamoring for, um, you know, just financial, uh, education. Um, man, I, wish I’d looked up, I didn’t know we were going to go down this path or I would have looked up the before the, um, the podcast, but, um, I looked at it, I want to say even a year plus ago or so, Nichole, and maybe you’ll surprise me and have it off the top of your head.

But, um, like the, um, the search terms related to finance in Tik TOK, I want to say are in the top five or top 10. Like it’s one of the, it’s one of the biggest things that people search for and they’re looking for it on Tik TOK. Like that’s one that’s just terrifying to me, like that, that’s people are going, that, [00:53:00] that also is a big indicator of like, that’s where your consumers are going.

So are you there to meet them there? Or conversely, like, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen videos from people on Tik TOK on Instagram, giving financial advice, and I’m like, no, No, that’s, that’s horrible advice. Like, Oh my goodness. I hope no one listens to that advice and takes that on. But at the same token, like if somebody is coming and saying, Hey, I represent the local community bank and I’m here as somebody who’s been a trusted expert and resource in our community, helping people strengthen their financial lives and their futures for decades.

And I’m going to give you a short tech talk lesson on some ways to help build up your savings account on how to think about how much debt you should take on. And for what types of things and how should you structure that? Like that’s content that people obviously want. People [00:54:00] are searching for that content.

So how are you using thought leadership as well to build trust and actually do the good that you’re talking about doing anyway, at the same time. So you’re kind of like doubling up.

Nichole: Right. And that’s why I love the micromedia side so much. Is going on podcasts and talking through this one, it’s a little bit more credentialing than, than tick tock. And so, um, you know, tick tock is one of those that, um, if you’re going to invest the time in it, you have to invest a lot of time into it.

You’ve got to do it every day, multiple times a day. And I know people don’t have, really don’t have the resources for that sometimes, but when you sit and do a podcast interview and you’re talking about these things and your expertise and what you’re learning. You’ve got an hour plus or content that you’re now able to share with others.

And maybe you just talked to somebody like, Hey, I know you asked me this question. I actually just did this interview the other day where we discussed [00:55:00] that exact thing. I just wanted to send this over to you. They may not be a customer yet, but you took the time to do that and you used it as a tool. And now they go and listen to it and they hear your voice.

They hear your understanding of where you’re at. And your message and your brand, and then they’re probably more likely to take a next step. And that just credentialed you further. And so that’s why I love that side. You can also re market it like crazy and get a bunch of content. And I can go down that path for an hour.

Um, but you know, that’s where, if you’re going to spend that time investing in thought leadership, video content is great. Um, we’re doing a lot on LinkedIn and seeing that be such a beneficial tool. Um, there is a lot more trust that comes with LinkedIn because so many. Professionals and experts are there.

We’re seeing that resonate really well. But I, again, on the earned media front PR side, really diving deep into that micromedia and those trade publications where people are really searching these specific issues and topics and you’re the [00:56:00] expert that they see you’re, it’s just going to help make it a very easy next step for them.

Josh: Yeah, I think that’s, I see that as a really big area of opportunity for, for financial institutions is doing some of the more of the thought leadership stuff. Um, it is, it’s amazing how many people really are clamoring for information about how to manage their finances. Um, you I was talking to, um, to somebody recently and they were talking about how, um, they’re like, yeah, like in a fairly affluent circle.

Yeah. Friends or doctors, lawyers nothing about money. A lot of them like doctors living paycheck to paycheck. It’s because they just haven’t learned how to finances. And they’re a really good doctor. Like, just because you’re a really smart person about your trade doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an expert about managing your money.

Right? And then, um, I actually just like, for whatever reason, it kind of stuck with me [00:57:00] after like the second time and I started paying attention, but when I travel for work, I usually take a, you know, Uber or Lyft, um, Nichole, the last six, uh, Lyft rides that I’ve taken, four of the six drivers were listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcast in the car, right?

So like, people are just clamming for this information and. Um, and so again, I just, I think that that’s a really cool opportunity to step in and provide thought leadership content. But again, that thought leadership content, you’ve got to have somebody at the institution that can provide the content, but need a marketing engine to actually put that in front of people so that can consume it.

Nichole: right. And you need, you know, there’s, this is not a saturated space. I hear that too. Like, well, there’s a podcast for everything. I was like, there is, and there isn’t, you know, where that’s where people are consuming their media. The most is through that. That’s where people are [00:58:00] spending their time learning because you can really hone in on a specific topic and, and really dive into that deeper.

And that there is just a, there’s missing voices on education and you, you can be that voice, you know it, you do this every single day. So why shouldn’t it be you? Why can’t you be that voice in that space? Why can’t you educate and storytell from your personal experiences that may impact others and help others learn and grow and get some financial knowledge that would be beneficial to them?

And then absolutely, yes. If you go spend an hour doing a podcast and then you don’t do anything with it, it’s pointless. Like what are you, you have to take then it’s got to go on social. It’s got to go an email. You got to send it to investors, whatever that may be for you. Um, it has to follow that whole plan and process, but you can do so many things with it and it comes back to education and storytelling.

Um, that’s going to help a lot of people, which is, I feel like what everyone’s really trying to do here.

Josh: I know [00:59:00] that’s, I mean, that’s the crux of this whole thing. It’s like, that’s why we excited about trying to put all this effort into getting it out there is because. We’re not just selling some widget online. Like I’m not selling the next fidget spinner. Like what we’re unquote selling is watching our neighbors, our friends, our family, our community, like live healthier financial lives.

That’s actually pretty honorable and noble. Like I have no problem, shameless plugging the heck out of this industry because the impact that it has is positive impact. It’s really good impact.

Nichole: Yeah. It’s what, it’s what drives everything. It’s why I love it so much and why I’ve seen such cool stories come from it. Um, I, and I love when people go the extra mile to share those stories, you know, it’s going to help someone else. Um, you’re going to get new customers where you can help other people.

It’s that it’s that impact. You’re going to have that over time by taking those steps.[01:00:00]

Josh: Yeah, I think that is an interesting part of it to you that I don’t know. I’ve probably talked about before, but I feel like, um, there almost seems to be some stigma of, I don’t want to say negativity. I don’t know. I don’t quite know how I’m trying to say this, but like the desire to grow and add new account holders can sometimes almost be perceived as like a.

A negative, and not really trying to say a negative, but just, I don’t know. Hopefully you get what I’m trying to say

Nichole: Yeah, yeah,

Josh: but like, that’s a really big positive. Actually, if you’re a really good community financial institution that cares about, um, you know, impair empowering people’s financial health, getting more people that you can impact positively is a great thing.

That’s fantastic. Let’s do it. Let’s get all the people we possibly can signed up for this thing. Like I would way rather see that than see a bunch of the new generation just say, you know what? I’m just going to keep all my money in [01:01:00] Venmo and I’ll just move it around from Venmo when I need it

Nichole: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, and there go ahead.

Josh: Oh, no, it’s just back to what you were talking about from earlier like when that trough comes Venmo ain’t gonna be there with you Yeah,

Nichole: could go away any day like It’s just it can it’s you know, we we always say that about social, you know You can’t you can’t put all your eggs in the marketing basket of social media Um They could go away. TikTok literally could go away. We don’t know yet. And so when that’s your sole focus and it’s like, well, I’ve been posting on social and I was like, okay, great.

Email marketing is a hundred percent where you need to focus your efforts because you own that connection. You own that relationship. You own that direct access to them. So invest in that. And then your website is a big piece of that. Like we’ve talked about, but you know, social is important for sure. But that’s just, that can’t be your end all be all.

Josh: When you were saying, you’re like, ah, you know, community financial institutions, they can 80 percent open [01:02:00] rate. I guess a tech marketer over here. I’m like, I would kill for that. I would absolutely

Nichole: I know.

Josh: Or like, if can get

Nichole: I mean,

Josh: to 20%, like you’re just crushing the game.

Nichole: yeah. And don’t see it for everything, but for a lot of it. Yeah. I mean, people are, they, it’s like, oh my gosh, my bank emailed me. I really need to probably see what’s going on here. they’re valuing that. I, and I, I know, you know, too, like any other email communications that we send or do for any other person or in industry.

Yeah. You’re, you’re lucky if you’re hitting 15, 20%. It’s, and that is a great, great target. So shout out to anyone already in other industries hitting that. But we do, we’re seeing 60, 70, 80% on stuff and resending ’em and getting another 10, 20%. It’s just wild. And so people are craving that as their communication resource.

If anyone takes anything away today, please email your email, your customer base,

Josh: At least get

Nichole: [01:03:00] please email them, get their emails and email them.

Josh: And email them. Um, what are you seeing in terms of, um, like other communication platforms though? Like, what about text push notification? Um, have you, have you seen any research around that?

Nichole: Yeah. Um, I don’t have any good numbers on the texting side. I am seeing that be a big thing. Now. Um, my, my always recommendation on this is to use it sparingly. People are annoyed by the text things lately. I mean, it’s direct access to your phone. People are getting blown up all day. I mean, there is nothing more irritating than having your phone on do not disturb coming out of a meeting.

And there’s 15 text notifications of 15 percent off for this. And, and then now you’re sending rates through that. That’s just not necessary to me. I really feel like it should be used [01:04:00] for emergencies and like, Hey, we’re going offline X amount of time for a maintenance update or So there’s a weather situation in Texas a couple of years ago, um, you know, we had no power in the whole state and so, um, no, no one could go into branches.

There was no, there was no opening and, you know, Financial institutions can’t be closed multiple days, but they had to cause he literally just had no power. And so that’s a really great tool if you have that to get direct access to someone cause they may miss it on social or email. So I love it for those types of situations.

Um, and big things like if your bank is going under a conversion, um, you know, you’re switching platforms and accounts are moving and, Credit card or debit cards are getting turned off and on those, all those things, those are some good things, like just key reminders of that, but yeah. Use it sparingly and use it wisely.

Um, and for all other communication and [01:05:00] ongoing, the big stuff, I, I, I usually say I leave it to email and some soft, small social support.

Josh: Um, you know, that also brings up a really good point. I think it’s also really important that this is in the industry, right? When you’re talking about marketing, it’s right message to the right person at the right place at the right time. And, and that’s a really challenging, uh, and you’re never, ever, ever going to get a hundred percent, right?

A hundred percent of time. But there are some pretty easy ways to say this is an egregious example of the wrong way to do things. And yeah, I mean, absolutely. If I start getting text messages from somebody that are starting to sell me and I’m getting one every day or every week, I will go and delete those text notifications where I probably have a ton of emails that I’ve signed up for that.

I don’t read their email very often, but I don’t unsubscribe from them because every once in a while it might be valuable. But if you’re texting me and nine times out of 10, it’s not valuable. [01:06:00] I’m going to get rid of you for a hundred percent. And I’m going to miss the one time that it was valuable because I’m annoyed that you’re texting me all the time.

And it is, it’s that right in front of my face. It’s really interesting to see some of the examples that I’ve talked to financial institutions about lately, about, you know, how they’re looking at doing some of the different marketing and some of the different capabilities. And I think a lot of times we too, we get like, sometimes we’ll get super excited about some new fancy fan dangled thing.

And we’re not even doing the basics. Well, um, you know, one of the ones that, um, I have some pretty strong opinions on it’s like, um, geo targeting. Right. And a lot of times I have, um, financial institutions ask about our ability to like geo target a dealership and say, Hey, anytime my member, you know, drives up to this dealership, I want to geo target them.

And like, yeah, absolutely. From a technology perspective, that is totally supportable. But like, think that example. How would you actually use that? Let’s just [01:07:00] say the Toyota dealership is in an area that right next door is Target

Nichole: Right.

Josh: and geo fencing is not an exact science, right? I mean, talking a minimum of about a, you know, mile.

Um, Uh, radius that you’re going to targeting that location. So now every single time your member, your customer, my wife goes Target every day, every day, you’re pinging them with the pre you’re pre approved for an auto loan because they’re next to the Toyota dealer, right? She’s going to get so hell of annoyed of that dinging.

She’s going to figure out how to turn that notification off. I guarantee you that.

Nichole: 100%.

Josh: when she’s actually shopping for a car, is she actually gonna remember that versus looking at some alternative methods to maybe understand when is that member actually going to be going into [01:08:00] a buying cycle for an auto?

And then what’s the channel they convert best in and then how do we place a very relevant and targeted ad for them saying, Hey, Nichole, we see that you’ve had an auto loan on your 2018 Honda Accord for, you know, the last four years and it’s coming up and you know, your car’s got a few miles cause we see that from the Carfax.

Like, are you thinking it might be time to, uh, To get a new auto loan. If you are, we’re here for you and here’s our great pre approved rate for you currently. And also we have some great relationships with a few dealers in the area and we could probably help give you a great deal, right? Like that is probably going to be a far more successful campaign than just blasting every single member.

Every time they’re one mile from the Toyota dealership.

Nichole: Yeah. And you made such a good point too, like a minute ago on, okay, great. They click on the ad and then what’s there, what are they getting? What’s everything look like? What are, what’s the pro, if [01:09:00] they sign up for something and they sign up for an email, what are they getting? Are they getting anything?

Have you, you got to think through it all too. I would really encourage anyone who listens to search themselves, search your, your personal self and search your, your bank and institution, like search it all and what populates and do it in an incognito browser because it’s going to be curated to you if you’re using Google Chrome.

But search it. And if you’ve got a ton of competition, one because the names or maybe it’s just one location, like you’ve got to have that cleaned up. Because when you’re running ads or going on podcasts, whatever you’re maybe doing, people are going to search you. And if you haven’t taken the time to really take stock in that and look at what’s populating, That’s a huge, that can be a huge issue and a huge detriment to you.

One, if you’re not checking your reviews, if you’re not looking at that, people are definitely talking about you. So you have to keep a good pulse on it, but [01:10:00] that’s, you know, earned media plays such a good role in that too. Cause if you’re going on podcasts and your name’s in it and your institution’s name is in it, it’s probably going to start to populate and search.

And so when someone searches you, they get your branch, they get. Um, you know, you may have an ad running and then they’re also like, Oh, and so and so was on this podcast. Maybe I’m going to go listen to it since I’m interested in potentially banking here. What are they talking about? Or what are they at least going to read the summary?

And so you want those things to kind of own that impression of it. But, you know, if you’re just, again, just geofencing and throwing things out there for the sake of it, and it, nothing else looks good, it’s just such a waste of energy and money at that point. Thank you.

Josh: Yeah, I think, yeah, I think that’s kind of the point we’re both trying to make right is, is that like you can get really wicked sophisticated with marketing these days. Like it would probably actually freak a lot of people who don’t work in marketing out at like just how creepy [01:11:00] we can get today. With data systems.

I mean, the level at which you can be targeted is pretty phenomenal. And yes, absolutely. We can help your financial institution with that. We can do a geo targeting around a dealership and we can leverage all the different data is to say. We’re only going to present the offer to Nichole when she’s actually in a buying cycle and there, so we have reason to believe she’s not just going to Target.

She’s actually going to the auto dealer. We can put all this, but there’s a lot of work that has to go into that and especially a lot of work to do that at scale and to get it right, because you do, you have to get it right. Otherwise it’s kind of all for not. And then to your point, you’ve got to have everything that follows suit of that.

And actually there’s some more traditional, not quite like mailing the postcard, but like more traditional modern marketing that’s lower hanging fruit that you may not even be advantage of today. [01:12:00] Yeah,

Nichole: especially if you’re in a smaller community who still really does rely on the newspaper. There are communities who really still utilize that, um, in a print form. Those can work very well. We’ve seen good deposit openings and accounts growing from those things.

So those tools still work. And I’m not saying like, they’re bad. ditch everything, go digital, social, all of it. So you’ve got to find the right strategy. Cause a lot of times I also see like, yeah, they may have a branch. I’m in Austin, but they also have one in kind of middle of nowhere. And so the, how you’re going to market to Austin should not look anything like you’re going to market to the people in the middle of nowhere, social may look the same, email can look the same.

But those other tools and components, how are you reaching them more specific? I would say probably people in Austin are very digitally based. They’re probably not looking at a paper that often. But these local communities, these smaller communities, do. And they read them. [01:13:00] And they come to their porch on Sundays.

Like, so, maybe find an opportunity to, you know, do a print campaign every once in a while. So, it’s just being really strategic. And again, knowing who your audience is and where they’re at and how to find them, because it’s going to be different for everyone and every location. Oh,

Josh: appreciate this. One of my favorite marketing examples over the last couple of years is actually a billboard and it was billboard in San Jose. And I was in San Jose for work. I’m driving into kind of downtown San Jose and I see this giant billboard and it’s just a totally black background with white letters and it’s giant letters.

And mind you, I’m driving into San Jose and it says, good morning, San Diego. And then in smaller print down below, it just says, um, what good is the data if you’re not using it correctly?

Nichole: I love

Josh: like, [01:14:00] so, you know that people are driving into San Jose, you have that data point, but you’re not using it in the right way.

You’ve got all this data on where people are, but you chose to put, you know what I mean? So it’s like, you’ve got to have a good strategy around, okay, make sure what data you’re using. Again, we don’t have to go, you know, full bore into the like, Crazy nether reaches of marketing, just simple data. Just make sure, like, if you’re going to say their name in the email, like, make sure you have their name in there nicely.

Make sure it’s not all caps in your data, like simple, silly little things like that. So it actually still comes across feeling warm and you’re not saying, um, you know, good morning, Tiffany. You’re like, uh, it’s Nichole, but thanks. Nice trying. Like,

Nichole: I’ve even told people to, um, sometimes stop using that, um, merge tag altogether. Like sometimes maybe don’t address it. If it, if your data is not cleaned [01:15:00] up or wrong, or I know sometimes people just don’t put in their names. If it’s good and there’s a chance it could be like, hello, blank. Like that is to me is so much worse than, than not.

Like. Just don’t put anything you don’t know. So just leave it. It can look really pretty without it. Like, and it’s, it’s the details, right, too. So like, if you’re going to send an email communication, is the subject line great and openable? Like, is it something I want to actually click? Um, and do your links work?

Like, do they work? Are they opening up properly? And when they do, is things loading correctly, you know? It’s just like, there’s so many things, and you know, we, I’m sure we could spend another two days talking about those types of things, but it’s the details, so just really make sure everything looks beautiful and great, and again, mistakes are gonna happen, but if they do, address it really quickly, and just acknowledge it, and be like, oops, our bad, here you go.

Josh: Yeah. You know what’s funny is that’s actually, um, I dunno what you think about [01:16:00] this, but I feel like that’s actually one of the, um, I don’t know if I would ever recommend it as a like, go forward strategy tactic, but, um, like when I get the second email, it’s like, oops, we screwed up. I’m like, ah, I kinda want to click the email and see what they screwed on, on the, I didn’t read the first one, but like.

What is it? And they’re like, sorry, we said, you know, it was 10 percent off, but it was actually supposed to be 15 percent off. I’m like, Oh, all right, man. Maybe I’ll out. Like, um, because it builds that like and transparency, right? I’m like, ah, you know what? That’s pretty cool. Like I was beating myself up last week because my marketing team sent out an email that we screwed up on.

And I’m sitting here beating myself up over it. And then I’m like, ah, Nike just sent me an email. It says, sorry, we screwed up on our last email. I’m like, ah, cool. Nike screws

Nichole: We all do it.

Josh: up too. Like we up. Ha,

Nichole: happened with Dairy Queen. This is like my favorite example. I’m signed up for Dairy Queen. Um, this is, I don’t know. I don’t know if Dairy Queen’s like everywhere, but it’s big in Texas. And so, um, I got an email that said, um, [01:17:00] buy one, get one blizzards on, um, for leap day and it was March by that point.

And then you opened it up and it was, um, I think for like March 19th to get a free cone. So the subject line did not match the body of the text at all. And so me, a marketer, I was like, uh, shout out to that poor person who just did that and sent that to probably hundreds of thousands of emails. My thoughts are with you today. And then I, I immediately got, uh, probably gave it, actually, it’s probably more like two, three hours. And then I got the next one and it was like, You may have been confused by our last email. Let us clarify real quick. And so we all do it. Huge brands do it. It’s people doing it. I’d rather you do it and mess up and not do it at all.

truly, I’d rather you correct mistakes. It’s the fear of sending out something incorrectly should not take away from the [01:18:00] opportunity to do it because you’ll figure it out. You’ll master it, but you know, communicate as clearly as you can. Little things are going to happen. Um, have checks and balances in place and reviews for like three people as much as you can, but it’s not the fear of that’s not worth not doing it at all.


Josh: for a whole nother podcast. But I think also something that, um, I actually like have some empathy for marketers of financial institutions because like when I screw up in my email marketing versus somebody actually sends out an email at JPMorgan Chase that says our CD rate is 16.

99 instead of 6. 99. Okay.

Nichole: yeah.

Josh: I mean, that’s like

Nichole: It makes me sick to my stomach for

Josh: Oh yeah. Somebody’s having a bad day. Um,

Nichole: Yes. And people, I

Josh: I get that that probably creates some, um, you know, fear of making a mistake, um, you know, [01:19:00] pauses action. And your point, like you’ve got to balance it, right? Like you can’t be reckless as a marketing team, but at the same time, like you can’t stifle creativity.

You’ve got to let them make some mistakes. Um, you got to let them test some things. Yeah, we can’t go sending out emails with, you know, consistently the wrong APR for an auto loan or something there’s, there’s gotta be to your point, some, some checks and balances, some real guardrails around this.

We’ve got to put a really big focus on, um, Some of the like really important details and make sure that checks and balances system, like at least everybody’s looking at, Hey, did we all agree that that was the correct APR that was supposed to go out? Um, but to like, you gotta be okay with, sometimes the email is going to go out and the subject line is going to say, you know, T E H instead of T H E.

Of just human. Nobody’s

Nichole: Yeah. My, we had one that we spelled peak incorrectly and it went through four [01:20:00] people. It was like sneak peak, but it wasn’t like peak. It was like mountain peak and no one caught it. And I was like, well, you know, four of us looked at it. So it happens. Um, so, you know, it’s definitely, uh, it, it will happen.

So just like accepting that it’s going to happen. Put what you can in place to not let it happen, but it will eventually and just try. That’s all you got to do is just try.

Josh: but I think I really do want to emphasize the point that you made, because I think it’s such a, such an important point, Nichole, that like, if that, if that mistake, if the culture of the organization is that that’s really shunned. And that that’s, you know, that that person feels really put down for making that mistake.

I guarantee you that marketing team, their output is going to suffer. Their creativity is absolutely going to suffer and your business is going to suffer again. Like if we’ve got people that are [01:21:00] intentionally making mistakes or continuously making the same mistake over and over again, that’s a different problem that has to be addressed.

But, you know, the fact that, you know, you may have just even disagreed with the messaging slightly. Um, you know, we talk about a lot internally like saying we sell blue cars versus I have blue cars for sale. The message is the same. Get mad at me when I say we’re selling red trucks, right? Like wrong.

We’re not, we’re selling blue cars. But know, examples like that, if you’re constantly, You know, chastising a marketing team for those errors and things like that. When you think about how much content they’re trying to push out and how many things, yeah. Hey, four people reviewed it. We sent it out with the wrong peak.

Like it just is what it is. Like it’s not that we tried to spell it wrong.

Nichole: Yeah.

just just a little grace goes along a long way because you know A lot of people’s jobs don’t have a forward [01:22:00] facing group aspect. Like you can do stuff all day where maybe only one person saw it because you sent one email. But for marketers, they’re doing a lot of forward facing things that are going to potentially thousands of people.

There’s a stress when you press that send button on an email. And I hate MailChimp for it because they have the monkey who shakes his hand. MailChimp When you go to press send, I’m like, I don’t need any more anxiety pressing this email. Thank you so much for that. Um, but there is, and once it’s out,

Josh: It’s out,

Nichole: it’s gone.

You can’t it like a Facebook post. Um, there’s nothing you can do about it. So it’s just, yeah. Having a little grace goes a long way for firmly believe that.

Josh: Yeah. But yeah, in a, in a really heavily-regulated and. you know, kind of more, you know, Traditional environment like banking, that is a hard balance to toe, right? Like you, you need to make sure you do things compliant and right. And you need to make sure that, [01:23:00] um, you know, your I’s are, are dotted and your T’s are crossed, but at the same time, like if you really want to excel in elevating your brand to consumers in today’s day and age, you kind of have to have a marketing team that gets to push the boundaries, that gets to make some mistakes, that gets to have some fun, um, but it’s got to have some guardrails.

Nichole: absolutely. Yeah.

Josh: See, I told you this was going to be a fun episode.

Nichole: I, this has been so fun for me. I’ve loved this conversation. Yeah.

Josh: Well, before I, uh, turn you loose to, uh, go watch some football, Nichole. Um, so two final questions for you. Um, well, actually, sorry. No, I guess it would be baseball, right?

Nichole: Baseball tonight. Yeah. I wish I got spring football in a couple of weeks though. So you’re, you’re not far off.

Josh: Um, but before I let you go to final questions, so where do you go to stay up to date on what’s happening in the industry?

Any shout outs?

Nichole: Yeah. You know, I, for me I read a lot of stuff like ad week and, [01:24:00] um, I also love, uh, there’s this podcast called, uh, it’s like the snack minute or something like that. Um, it comes through on Spotify has a really cool thing where they curate a bunch of little podcasts and music, um, and they put it all together.

So you get news and music on your commute. So highly recommend that. Um, so I get a lot of my just kind of information that way. Um, and then I, yeah, signed up for like marketing brew, um, for email marketing and then like banking dive, banking exchange, things like that for more of the financial industry.

Josh: Nice. And then if people want to connect with you, uh, or if they want to learn a little more about Zilker media, how do they do that?

Nichole: Yeah. You can head over to our website. So it’s zilkermedia. com is Zilker like the park here in Austin. So Z I L K E R is always great. Um, I know it’s a little quirky if you don’t live anywhere near here, um, but beautiful park where our music festival is. And so that’s why that’s kind of our, our roots. [01:25:00] Um, but yeah, you can head over to our website.

Um, always our email, my email’s on there. If you have any questions or want to connect further, always happy to have a conversation.

Josh: Awesome. Well, thank you again. I mean, this was a ton of fun and I really appreciate, uh, just getting to pick your brain and talk to a fellow marketer about, uh, ways that we can really elevate our industry. So thanks for the time, Nichole. All

Nichole: a lot. It was great. Really enjoyed it.

Josh: right. Thanks for being a guest on the Digital Banking Podcast.

Nichole: Take care.

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