Post Financial Brand Forum: What you learned, what you can put into motion

Bankers around the country returned to their offices last week full of excitement about the things they learned at the 2019 Financial Brand Forum in Las Vegas. Kicking off with a powerful keynote from digital marketing expert, Gary Vaynerchuk, and following up with engaging sessions and presentations for the next several days there was plenty to be excited about.

Unable to attend the Forum? We’ve reviewed some of the common themes below (and while we didn’t discuss #UGLYBRANCHES in our review, you can bet we were nodding along!). Check out some of the key points. Did we miss one of your favorites? Be sure to share it with us in a comment or email.



GET HUMAN: Customer Experience

Digital is a force to be reckoned with, there is no doubt – but time and again, speakers reminded the audience that marketing must retain a person-first focus. We’re ecstatic to see that focus, and we suspect many of you are as well. What we hear from clients all the time is that it’s the personal approach to service that sets them apart from those larger banks. Statistics show that definitely matters to consumers. One speaker shared that 64% of consumers say that customer experience trumps price when choosing a brand. 

We also heard that people are generally looking for two things: help + hope. Providing personalized financial advice could be the game changer in this evolving industry – so how will you adapt? Don’t just tell me about this great rate you’re going to give me, tell me what I can do with it. Incorporating financial education based on a consumer’s needs will be crucial to achieving growth.

If you are looking at your customer experience surveys in a vacuum, you’re missing the point. Use that data and apply it to your strategic planning. It cannot stand alone! Being able to incorporate personalized financial advice and product education at every touchpoint can set you apart. In this digital economy, trust is the currency and while trust can take a long time to build, you can lose it in an instant.


GET PERSONAL: Use Data to Tailor Your Marketing

Personalization was a common theme last week, and we can’t say we’re surprised! As an agency that puts an emphasis on data, the Galapagos team believes wholeheartedly in incorporating data to drive the customer experience.

For many FIs, the ability to deploy personalized data is a huge challenge, but as you heard last week from Jim Marous, communication driven by data can improve the overall experience. Developing personalized communications goes beyond just adding the customer’s name to the email. Personalization without value can be annoying (I have an inbox full of emails from marketers I can share as proof). Think about how you can kick it up a notch: how will you transform that annoying anniversary email with no offer to create a customer touchpoint that adds value?


GET HELPFUL: Content Marketing Drives Growth

Those of you who attended our Client Event in 2017 likely know why the focus on Content Marketing was music to our ears. We believe that content is a powerful tool that can drive growth. We also know that content can be difficult to execute, particularly at the scale needed to be impactful.

Content must be purpose-driven and FIs must start by identifying their potential customers and that person’s concerns. Developing the personas of the people potentially doing business with you allows your FI to better match your content to those consumer needs to develop empathy maps.

“Always be closing” is no longer the name of the game and providing useful and beneficial content is better than a product-focused pitch. Content builds the trust that FIs are hungry for.

Do you struggle with content marketing? You’re not alone. Is it worth pursuing? We believe it is.


GET SOCIAL: Expand Beyond the Traditional

Social media is everywhere and we love it! Keynote speaker Gary Vaynerchuk spoke of the benefits of Facebook – and we don’t disagree. As we recently shared at the Michigan BEST Conference, Facebook is definitely where the people are. And no doubt it’s cost effective!

We will say, no disrespect to the keynote speaker but we advise making sure that when running those localized ads on Facebook, you’re being mindful of any regulations that might apply to your targeting – and when in doubt, check in with compliance.

The success of social media doesn’t negate the fact that direct mail can and does generate positive results. Galapagos believes that a multi-platform campaign utilizing a variety of tactics drives greater success – and we don’t believe direct mail is dead because we’ve seen results that show otherwise.


GET EVOLVED: Change or Risk Irrelevance

The Galapagos motto of “Adapt. Evolve. Thrive.” is no accident. This philosophy stems from our belief that evolution is the antidote to extinction. This same basic premise was shared by speaker Jeffrey Hayzlett, formerly of Kodak, who shared that FIs must adapt and change… or die. Ignoring the advances in technology that make banking easier is like ignoring the slow demise of the community banking model.

No longer is it enough to make decisions based on what was done in the past. Community FIs must instead look at what consumers are actually doing, and operate accordingly.

GET STARTED: Taking What You Learned and Applying It

With so many buzzworthy sessions, it’s probably hard to know which to tackle first now that you’re back at home. Maybe reality has set in a bit, and your enthusiasm is tempered with a bit of, “I’d LOVE to do that, but I’m not sure we could really execute that here.”

Waiting for consensus will stall innovation, and the time will never be entirely right. But get started somewhere: Do what you can now rather than wait for those stars to align. Consider what your bank or credit union wants to be known for, and outline and prioritize your tasks accordingly.


Need a resource to help you crawl, walk, run to get your plans in motion. We can help. Give us a call or contact us today.