In advance of Washington & Lee’s annual Entrepreneurship Summit

Good morning from the campus of the 9th oldest university in the United States: Washington & Lee. Yes, I am back in Lexington, VA to speak at my alma mater’s 3rd annual Entrepreneurship Summit. So in lieu of my traditional Friday post on banking, today’s column highlights three points (specific to social media) that I will expand upon in a few hours.

W&L

I am fortunate to share today’s stage with a number of successful fellow Generals.  I love this school, and thought to share the presentation I put together for this two-day event (see: W&L 2014 Presentation). As you will see — and maybe hear — I’ve broken it into three parts that all relate to leveraging social media in a small, growing and profitable business:

  1. You can’t manage what you can’t measure — with a look at “the stats” we use at Bank Director to gauge progress and success;
  2. A juxtaposition of JPMorgan Chase’s #AskJPM fail with TD Bank’s wildly popular Automated Thank You Machine; and
  3. Inspiration from our recent FinTech day at the NASDAQ MarketSite and a conversation I had with BNY Mellon’s head of innovation about Staying Relevant While Standing Out.

If you are a student at W&L, I hope you will pay close attention to the final slide in this shared presentation. It speaks to the internship opportunities we have for interested and qualified applicants looking for a paid position in Nashville next summer.

Aloha Friday!

Creating a Social Business

I am back in Lexington, Virginia today to speak at Washington & Lee’s 2nd Annual Entrepreneurship Summit.  I love it here and am very excited to share my thoughts on “Leveraging Social Media in New Ventures” later today.  While my company, Bank Director, isn’t a “new” play in the traditional sense, I am eager to share what I have learned since I graduated from W&L in ’99.  So, in lieu of my traditional focus on banking, today’s post highlights three points I’ll expand upon in a few hours.

W&L - BD - Social Media cover slide.001

(1) Let me start by sharing the presentation I put together: W&L – BD – Social Media.  As some might know, we began to “re-imagine” our then-20 year old company in September of 2010 upon the sale of our sister company, Corporate Board Member, to the NYSE.  Building a new reputation upon an established brand reflects three tactics I’d picked up in business school, seen applied by technologists at my old firm (Computech) and had reinforced by bank CEOs and Chairmen at our many events.  First, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.  Second, “fail fast” doesn’t always apply, but slow + steady doesn’t necessarily win the race either.  Finally, be open, interested and ready to adopt new practices or strategies while relying on your team to shout things up or down.

(2) We talk a lot about “community building” within Bank Director.  As we focus on issues fundamental to a bank’s CEO, senior leadership team, chairman and independent directors, we are constantly thinking about building strong + lasting relationships with these leaders across the U.S.  Admittedly, we embraced social media pretty quickly — figuring out the best uses of LinkedIn and Twitter — while we designed our digital strategy.  By participating in, and not always driving the, conversations through such channels, we identified various trends and opportunities that made their way into our conferences, research, etc.  Nothing groundbreaking here, but it does surprise me when people ignore the classic marketing adage “know your customer and give them what they want.”

(3) In a sense, you can look at Bank Director as an example of company that is “passionate” about connecting people through shared experiences.  So too are younger ventures like DC-based SocialRadar and Boston-based EverTrue.  I choose to highlight these two companies in my presentation as they share this same commitment.  If you’re not familiar with SocialRadar, it looks to combine your smartphone’s location with your social network – thereby “allowing you to walk into a room and already be aware of the people around you and how you are connected to them.”  EverTrue, started by a football teammate of my brother at Brown, offers colleges and universities “alumni networking platforms” that create stronger communities through an interactive mobile directory and better data from LinkedIn and Facebook.  Two up-and-coming companies that fit nicely with the title of today’s post.

Aloha Friday!

Does Banking Need a Re-boot?

Now that I’ve baited you with the headline, let me tie it to the opinions of Brett King (who, in full disclosure, we just confirmed as a speaker at Bank Director’s upcoming Growth conference at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans).

Shawmut HD.001

A history lesson for those non-Bostonians reading today’s post.  Shawmut Bank was established in Boston in 1836 and its logo, the stylized bust of Chief Obbatinewat — seen above — became widely recognizable in the Greater Boston area over the next 150 years.  Heck, we had one in our house!  Sadly, the name and logo were retired in 1995 as a result of the merger of Shawmut and Fleet.  But for me — and many others I’ve met (hello Bank of the West’s CEO) — “the Chief” still inspires a smile and a story.

Robert Parrish -- #OO
Robert Parrish — #OO

In my last post, I wrote that its not easy for a bank to build a strong brand.  Still, as some are finding, the rewards can be immense.  So I bring up “the Chief” (not to be confused with the equally awesome Robert Parish who dominated the paint for the Boston Celtics) as an example of a formerly strong brand that still stirs emotions and memories.  It also provides a tie into what I’ve been reading of Brett’s in terms of building a “sticky” customer experience and developing a multi-channel distribution strategy.

Admittedly, his “BANK 2.0” book reminded me of many I read while in the IT space.  For example, those authored by Clay Shirky; at least, in terms of crowdsourcing, “disruptive” customer behaviors, technology shifts and new business models.   But as Brett focuses on our financial community, I’m eager to crack open his “BANK 3.0” to see what he thinks might redefine financial services and payments.  I’m particularly interested in his POV with respect to:

  • Where social media might shine a light on pricing, processes and heretofore obtuse policies;
  • How “customer advocacy” is killing traditional brand marketing; and
  • The growth of the ‘de-banked’ consumer who might not need a bank at all.

I’m always interested in hearing who’s “doing it right” in order to learn and share their stories.  So I ask: in addition to Brett’s ideas, any suggestions for other authors, entrepreneurs, innovators, etc. worth a follow/read?  Hit me up on Twitter or feel free to leave a comment below.  I’ll re-post later this week as part of my “Friday Follow” inspired column.

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FWIW, the Growth Conference focuses on how a bank’s board can become actively involved in building the bank – in securing customers, identifying lending opportunities, promoting the bank in the community, etc. Its a complement to our annual M&A conference, Acquire or Be Acquired, which I covered in detail on my DCSpring21 blog last month.

Community banks, meet social media?

I posted these thoughts on January 30 to my DCSpring21 blog… as I move away from sharing bank-specific thoughts on that site (in favor of this one), I thought to re-post in advance of a few pieces I’m working on.

no-one-said-this-would-be-easy

55%

… or, the final percentage that correlates to the results shared from a Q&A with bankers earlier this week. Sorry, it is not the percentage of turtle tiles found at the Phoenician’s pool. That would be too easy; although, the image does fit when you consider the number of banks using social media vs. those that are not.

No, this is a post about building a brand — and with it, customer loyalty and engagement. For those of us that have been in a business development position, it is oh-so-true that its not easy to build a brand. But make no mistake, the rewards can be immense should you succeed. And yes, the 55% foreshadows the end to this piece.

Admittedly, I thought about taking this post towards my last few company’s efforts to employ various social media tools. However, the importance of building a recognizable, memorable and relevant brand came up with numerous bank CEOs and Chairmen at our recently-concluded Acquire or Be Acquired conference. To a man, they acknowledged the stakes to successfully position a bank are higher than ever, what with the growing popularity of credit unions, new technology and ever-emerging social media platforms. Even more so when a bank customer’s product adoption and brand loyalty is measured at the speed of a tweet or a post. Clearly, the integrity of a brand becomes critical.

So I was/am SHOCKED that more community banks haven’t hitched their wagons to the social media wagon. This is not speculation or wild assumption. Its based on hard fact.

Let me take a step back and explain. We welcomed 275 banks to the Phoenician for our 19th Acquire or Be Acquired this past Sunday, Monday and Tuesday — with a CEO, Chairman, CFO or director attending. I believe (but don’t have the final numbers in hand) that of the 720+ attendees, 575 worked for a bank. I share these numbers as a lead into this question I raised:

Question: How many of you are successfully using these on a daily basis to engage with your customers and potential customers. I’m going to ask ONLY the bankers in attendance to answer this one — and answer on behalf of your bank, not yourself. So you might be a proficient twitter’r, have more than 500 connections on your personal LinkedIn account and have been sharing pictures of this conference on FaceBook with your friends and family. But we’re curious how the banks here are making social media work for them.

The results pulled via an audience response system are startling — and suggest that those in the social media business have ample opportunity at community banks if they can show a bank’s directors and officers how the following ties into their business. The raw results:

  • Facebook = 33%
  • LinkedIn = 11%
  • Twitter = 4%
  • Pinterest = 0%
  • We do not use social media = 55%.

Wow.