It’s Time to Stop Reading the Teleprompter

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This time of year is filled with lists. You see titles such as, “what changed in social media in 2013″or “what to look for in 2014”. The reality is that many financial institutions are not paying attention to change. They are simply reading the teleprompter, like Will Ferrel’s character Ron Burgandy reading any word that the internal culture has placed on the screen.

Now I’m not asking every Financial Institution has to become super-innovative to survive. Like Ron Shevlin suggests, “There’s been no need to innovate” for many banks, advising firms, etc.

Let’s cut out the lists and focus on 2 things that will help your Financial Institution to succeed this year:

1. Invest in relationshipsAs a social media consultant, I receive flak for engaging in an activity for which many in business have not yet adopted. But sales managers send staff to Rotary, Kiwanis and ringing bells for the Salvation Army… why is there no digital equivalent? Building relationships in the community takes time. But we are spending time in these activities already.

Many of the interactions that occur between financial brands and their customers are indeed positive. Having a chat with customers may be of some value, but getting customers to love you is something that must be taken off-script. — When we do social training, and bring tools to advisors, marketers and customer service staff, the focus is on relationship-building. These activities are not simply about what you can and cannot say. This is about finding ways to know your customer better and win more business.

2. Engage employees in your brand. How do you get your employees to work with you on the role of your brand in the community? If you are running an open house to share cookies and punch after the New Year, why wouldn’t you have your staff share? And why wouldn’t they want to share? If your staff enjoys engaging in their workplace, they would enjoy having friends stop by and meeting team members.

“If you have that passion, it is conveyed through marketing. People see it. I get up before them and show them something new and wonderful. When I create something, I believe in it, and I am very passionate about it.” – Ron Popeil

Your staff can be passionate about where they work and will see their relationships if given a chance. Social media allows for a pride in what you do for a living to become evident. Nurture this in 2014 and look for ways your coworkers are proud. If you find an employee who takes pride in what they do, it will infect your customers.

We are not programming robots with social media. It’s about relationships. And you as a financial institution have perhaps the most to gain by being good at it.

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