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ABA’s Bank Marketing Conference Offers Fresh Perspectives on Ideation & Innovation

By October 19, 20234 min read

Austin was the site of three days of connection and collaboration at this year’s much-anticipated ABA Bank Marketing Conference. The event, hosted by the American Bankers Association, welcomed hundreds of the leading voices in community banking and financial services, plus a few special guests from the Chief Joseph Ranch and the Dutton Ranch. As per usual, the Social Assurance team could be counted on for some absurdly overserious storytelling and a few antics. Centering on genuine connection and innovative revenue generation, the event included memorable sessions, keynotes, and exhibitors. On everyone’s mind? Deposit growth and how to innovate toward it. Here are some highlights from our time in Austin.

ABA’s Bank Marketing Conference Offers Fresh Perspectives on Ideation & Innovation 

There’s nothing like real insights and experiences from folks who’ve been there and done that. Hifi Agency’s Hunter Young and Equity Bank’s John Hanley walked an eager audience through the unique story of the launch of a digital-only bank and the combined internal, external, and multi-channel efforts behind it. Using a combination of competitive rates, intentional customer touchpoints, and a smooth digital banking experience, the teams were able to attract a substantial clientbase from a range of geographies, including coastal cities, driving nearly $200 million in deposits. The story is a unique case study in thinking outside the box to attract and retain deposits and customers with unique interests. 

Other sessions dove into hot topics like NIL (Name, Image and Likeness), including risk mitigation, contract considerations, and relationship management. The takeaway from these discussions? Finding the right athletes to represent your brand is a strategic effort, and, perhaps most importantly, one that must be shored up by community engagement, communications, and genuine public interest. Community banks are uniquely situated to leverage their personal trust and brand trust in this way with a little help from compliance–making NIL a unique opportunity.

Bridging Sales, Marketing & Compliance

Internal friction can certainly stifle innovation–wisdom that guided a number of the event’s discussions around sales, marketing, and compliance. Arvest Bank’s Shelly Loftin and Renee Huffaker took on the topic from the angle of social media. Their session emphasized that social media is at the heart of customer engagement, making it absolutely paramount that marketing and compliance work together to support it. The benefits of bringing each team and their corresponding processes and workflows into a cohesive and successful unit are extensive. They include the ability to create content that resonates with the target audience and moves them to action, all the while safeguarding reputation and mitigating risk.  

Other presenters echoed this sentiment, highlighting the importance of traceable workflows and replicable processes that ensure marketing and communications efforts remain in compliance. When the review and approval processes are baked into ongoing projects at a policy level, banks benefit from the ability to move more quickly and innovate with agility. The result is a better overall customer experience and a more competitive market position.

An Emphasis on Customer Experience & Digital

Discussion in all these areas intersected to emphasize digital experience and the importance of cohesion across touchpoints. That includes how customers discover banks, check rates, open accounts, shop for lending solutions, seek business loans and commercial products–but it also includes touchpoints with existing customers. 

Social Assurance’s Jess Doerr and Jordyn Swanson took the topic head on in their digital marketing and social media session about consumer confidence and storytelling. With a little help from Beth Dutton, they took a deep dive into consumer sentiment data and social media monitoring to explain how this aggregated information can help community banks understand and speak toward consumer worries long before they turn into crises.

Then they took things a step further, explaining the importance of strategic storytelling and doing it consistently across channels. They explained that good storytelling is candid, relatable, aligns with how people look for information, provides guidance on decision-making, and is fundamentally emotional. Backed by technology and strategy, content can unify messaging (both internally and externally) and get all your teams on the same page and aligned to grow deposits by reaching customers in the right time and place with an engaging message that resonates.

Centered on People

ABA’s genuine commitment to providing bankers with opportunities to learn, grow, and innovate was on full display every step of the way. “It’s always so great to see everyone and catch up,” said Jordyn Swanson, who works with financial brands nationwide to help them better leverage technology, social media, and digital channels. “ABA is such a great organization. We’re always so inspired by these incredible bankers and the work they’re doing. It’s so fun to be part of it!”

Did you miss us at ABA? Drop us a line and let’s catch up on all things 2024! 

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Jess Doerr

Jess Doerr is the client services manager for Social Assurance where she develops and oversees client projects. If she's not at the office, she's probably on her boat, on her bike, or in her garden.