Episode 4: Eric Cook
Navigating the Digital Landscape: Insights from Eric Cook on Marketing, Technology, and Community Banking
On this fourth episode of Jack Rants With Modern Bankers. Jack Hubbard interviews his good friend Eric Cook - one of the top digital marketing minds in community banking. With a rich background in bank technology and marketing, Eric provides valuable insights into the rapidly evolving world of digital strategies for community banks.
Delve into the journey that led Eric to establish himself as a thought leader in the field, and discover how he's empowering banks to harness the potential of digital tools to enhance customer engagement and drive growth. As the conversation unfolds, you'll gain invaluable knowledge about effective digital marketing techniques, AI-powered innovations, and the role of human connection in the ever-changing landscape of community banking. Tune in to explore the fusion of marketing and technology, and learn how community banks can leverage these tools to thrive in the digital age.
Eric Cook 00:00
At the end of the day, I hear a lot from different people but you know, we talk about b2b or b2c business to consumer. At the end of the day, it's really P2P, Person to person, people to people, H to H human to human, whichever letter you want to use to symbolize a carbon based life form that walks on two legs. That really is what it boils down to.
Jack Hubbard 00:25
I've had the privilege of being in and around banking for more than 50 years. Lots of changes during that time. We've gone from Ledger's to laptops, typewriters to technology. One thing, however, remains the same. Banking is a people business. And I'll be talking with those people that make banking great here on Jack Rants With Modern bankers.
Welcome to Jack Rants With Modern Bankers brought to you by RelPro, and Vertical IQ. Each week I feature top voices in financial services from bankers and consultants, to best selling authors and many more. The goal of this program is simple, to provide insights, success practices and to bring new ideas to the table that you can use to maximize your results.
My guest today is one of my best friends in banking. It's Eric Cook. Now who doesn't know Eric cook? Well, first of all, Eric speaks and teaches absolutely everywhere. He's on the faculty of the graduate school of banking in Madison, Wisconsin, someplace near and dear to my heart. He teaches at the Pacific Coast school of Banking and for the past three years, he's in perfect ranks at GSB Sales and Marketing School and GSBs digital banking school.
Eric is a WSI strategist in banking, and he earned a BA from Alma college with a double major in business and psychology. He also earned an MBA from Western Michigan University. Eric is a bronco. It's Eric Cooke, on Jack Rants With Modern Bankers. Here we go.
Tell me something good. Let's start with that. I always like to ask the question of my guests. Tell me something good. And you'll have so much good going on in your life.
Eric Cook 02:18
Oh boy. Well, one thing good is my dear friend Jack Hubbard keeps sharing good news regarding his health, and you've been very public about your journey in battle with cancer and every time I get a message from you, I'm a little trepidatious if that’s the right word about what it's going to say. And I'm very excited and very pleased that you're gonna be around for many more years for me to pick on you. So I would say that's good but I went through a really cool experience, probably three or four weeks ago. As you know, and a lot of people that know me know, I'm an avid cyclist, I won't mention how many bicycles I own that are hanging up in the room next to me, but it's a lot more than one person really should have. But I've been riding bikes for probably 45 years. And for the first time ever, I actually scheduled an appointment with a professional bike fitter down in arbor.
Her name is Maxine, and she works out of the sick transit cycling shop. And it was amazing to watch somebody that is at the top of their craft, where she could look at your body, she could tell your position, she could tell I had one leg shorter than the other. Or she could tell that I had a collarbone issue and wanted to know what that was from stupidly rock climbing. When you weigh more than 220 pounds. You shouldn't be rock climbing, it's a dumb, dumb thing to do. But to get on the bike, and to have her analyze my position and to really find someone that is in their zone, I think of other people and it inspired me and I'm working on a blog post. But my bicycling has gotten a lot better. I just haven't had enough time to really enjoy all the things. But that was just a real enjoyable experience. We spent the whole day together and went through three of my bikes that I ride the most. And to be in the presence of a craftswoman like that was just really, really cool. So I'd say that has been a highlight for me, certainly for the last month or so.
Jack Hubbard 04:32
Oh that’s great! And one of the reasons that you don't have much time to ride is because your business is doing so well and you're doing so well. I'm really interested, take us back to how you got engaged with WSI, give everybody a little flavor of your company.
Eric Cook 04:52
So we’ll not go as far back as maybe what some people joke about. You know, the date of conception and middle school trials and tribulations… I’ll spare you of all those details. But like you, I was a recovering banker 15 years myself and then decided in 07, I didn't want to be the CEO of a publicly traded bank, and I wanted to do something different. And I didn't know what that was but I had started building websites, back in 1995.
I have people on my team that weren't even born yet. So that gives you a sense of just how old sometimes I feel. But a high school buddy and I started an Internet service provider. dial up in Marshall, where I grew up here in Michigan, and we decided to hang out and teach each other HTML, and launched marshallsavings.com. If you go to the Wayback Machine, you can look for it and find that website at the time we were about a $75,000,000.two office shop with about 14,15 employees. no plan, no budget, no risk assessment. Just had a gut feeling that this web thing would be something people would want to go to outside of AOL, because that's when everybody was getting the discs and AOL and just staying inside of America Online, not realizing they could go out and browse around.
So long story short, I became aware of WSI, which is also coincidentally created in 1995. The year I started building websites, as a digital agency network, and the largest and oldest operating network on the planet based out of Toronto, Ontario. And with offices in 80 countries around the world, we have a collection of consultant offices, that really there's not an industry, we haven't worked in, a service, we haven't provided, a technology we haven't looked at or vetted or used. And I'm one of if not the only agency in the ecosystem that really focuses on community banks and financial institutions, because that's my passion. And I've been able to blend those two things. I love technology. I love innovation.
You know, I'm a gadget squirrel chasing shiny objects kind of guy. But I also love banking, and I love banking. My father was a banker for 33 years. And I didn't appreciate what a community banker meant to the community until I worked with him. You know, when I was growing up, it was like, “Why is dad never home? and he's always doing stuff? And he's always going places?” And I got it. And I think being part of that from the other side, and doing what I can do to help educate, train and empower bankers to connect digitally with their customers and communities is a real, real joy. And we're starting our 16th year now as a WSI agency, and absolutely, absolutely love it.
Jack Hubbard 07:58
You mentioned digital, and it's a big part of your business. I'm a community banker. Talk to me about digital, why should I do it? Where should I put it? How much does it cost? Just give me all things digital.
Eric Cook 08:15
So how many hours did you just do? You know one thing I go back a couple of years and I unfortunately COVID It sucked. Nobody liked it. You know, it was not an experience I think anybody would want to reproduce. But one thing that it did do for our industry and for our office and for a lot of bankers that I know is it. It raised the importance of having some sort of a digital presence, in addition to the good old fashion handshake, show up, be there, be present, because when those things couldn't happen, it was okay, how am I going to be present? How am I going to be relevant? How am I going to be seen in the newspaper industry when I started doing advertising back in the late 90s. They had these things called TOMA ads (Top of Mind Awareness)
Vertical IQ 9:11
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Eric Cook 09:28
And it was a strategy of just placing small little ads peppered throughout the newspaper. Not a tremendous amount of information, but it was just top of mind “Oh, I'm seeing Marshall savings. I'm seeing Marshall savings. I'm seeing Marshall savings.” So if something comes up banking related, I'll think of Marshall savings and then infer that well they do mortgages they do checking accounts, you know. And so it's that TOMA strategy of how you can be top of mind in a digital age to be present and that could be as an individual banker, being present on LinkedIn and you hedging in conversations and being part of discussions and getting mentioned or mentioning others.
As a bank, it can be participating in thought leadership and producing blogs and sharing information with the local chamber or putting information on pages and teaching people could be webinars could be advertising going after specific targeted audiences that you know, have an interest in buying a house, refinancing a house, purchasing a car equity loans, deposit accounts are a big thing right now, obviously. So it's how do you leverage all of those digital channels, whether it's through the web, it's through email, it's through text messaging, it's through social media, but building a strategy around that. And we try really hard to sit down with our clients.
And first, instead of jumping into all the digital cool stuff, what's your strategy? What do you want to do as a bank? Not what do you want to do online? But what do you want to do as a bank? Is it brand awareness? Is it reputation? Is it visibility? Because you're going into a new market? Do you want to change the perception that you're a sleepy125 year old community bank, but you've got all this great technology that nobody knows. So you need to have a little personality shift, lead generation? And then it's the job of the digital strategist, to figure out and say, “Okay, of all of the cool things I have in my quiver, what are the things that I would want to pull out, and why they would matter in this case?” because there's going to be a lot of stuff I'm gonna leave in the quiver that don't matter. And if I talk about everything, you're gonna get confused, and not really know which direction to go. So how does it work? How do you measure it? How do you know if it's working or not, fix it, do more of it, those sorts of things. So that's probably about as brief as I can go. And I'm sure I left something out.
Jack Hubbard 11:52
Well, and it's a huge subject. So you very likely did. But yeah, as you were talking, I was thinking about, let's say, I'm Ann Arbor, Michigan. And the reason I bring up Ann Arbor is because the Bank of Ann Arbor is well known in community banking as a tremendously adept technologically socially engaged bank. So I'm in Ann Arbor, and I am a business. How likely is it that in any of the Ann Arbors around the country, that a community if I'm on LinkedIn, I'm a business owner, I'm on LinkedIn. How likely is it that I might see a digital ad about a community bank on LinkedIn? And if not, why not?
Eric Cook 12:41
Well, if you're a community bank, you may not see ads. Unless there's folks out there that are trying to sell to a community bank that are there. You sell the community banks, we sell the community banks, you might see one of our ads, if we decided to go there, and to do some paid promotion, I would flip it around and say, if your bank is predominantly focused on growing businesses, b2b, business relationships, commercial bankers, Business Development Officers, then it's worth the discussion to find out is there a way that in Ann Arbor bank, even Arbor, could put together a strategy or any bank for that matter, could put together a strategy to get in front of those business owners, those decision makers, C-level President CFOs CEOs, and present them with something that would get them to think about a banking relationship where they're at now, hey, there's an opportunity.
And it might not even necessarily be selling the rate or a product or service, you could start off with something like a lead magnet, or a Luer piece, which is in the industry, something highly valuable white paper or research document, some sort of a guide, that would be desirable to a business owner in that market area, that in exchange for five or six page document with good info, you're willing to provide your name and email address and potentially an opportunity for a phone call to chat with a banker about your needs.
And that's when the dance starts. Because especially in the business world, it's not as easy as going to a mortgage page and finding a rate or going to a deposit page and seeing what the CD special is. There's a lot more nuance in pricing, a deposit or a loan from a business perspective, because there's other considerations that you need to take into thought in order to make that happen. So it's the opportunity to have a conversation with someone, set an appointment, leverage technology to make it easy for that business owner to get in touch and go “Hey, Jack, I downloaded your ebook. I'm really interested in talking about some stuff here at the business. When can we set up an appointment?”
Jack Hubbard 14:56
Well, your answer is an excellent one, as always. And it leads me to a question about marketing directors in community banks. So you see marketing directors every day of your life, you work with them. And what we just talked about is marketing director’s forte, hopefully but yeah, this is my question. Community banks will many times hire people that are very good at retail marketing, but not in commercial marketing. What are you seeing in that regard? And let's say that my bag is a business oriented bank, or I want to get more business oriented. If I don't have the skills as a retail marketing professional, what do I need to do to get those skills?
Eric Cook 15:53
Sure. You know, while you think that there may be different skill sets, at the end of the day, I hear it a lot from different people but you know, we talk B2B or B2C business to consumers at the end of the day, it's really p2p Person to person, people to people, H to H human to human, whichever letter you want to use to symbolize a carbon based life form that walks on two legs. That really is what it boils down to. And whether you're talking about trying to generate interest for a mortgage, or a checking account, or online banking on the retail side, or you want to get in the door and talk about commercial financing, any of those other sorts of more complex, you need to figure out what the human on the other side is interested in. You need to understand their wants and their needs.
A lot of times you talk about this through the persona development process, which is an exercise, you've seen me run at the Graduate School banking, Sales and Marketing School, where we divide up we identify key personas, okay, let's figure out CEO of a type of business that you want to sell into what type of business is that? what's on their mind? What are their challenges? What are the things that you can help them with? How do you relate to them, as a human, if you come right off and start talking about products and rates that might work for some people that are just brass tacks, get to the bottom line?
But most of the time, people want to have a relationship and do business with people that they know and like and trust. And it's understanding that and I think there's a lot more similarities between whether it's B2B or B2C than what a lot of people think, and and not overcomplicating, or freaking yourself out, or scaring yourself into, I don't know anything about commercial loans, talk to a commercial lender,sit down, take them to lunch, you know, what are the things that you add value to the people that you're serving on what a business is like about working with you? And figure out as the marketing professional, then how do you tell that story, so that you can try to connect on a much more of an emotional empathetic level as well, I think those are a couple of big E words that are floating around the industry these days. That I think justly so I think they're important elements that we need to weave into our marketing strategy.
Jack Hubbard 18:12
I think you're right. And I always tell people four things. The first one you already mentioned, get to know commercial bankers, one on one, the good ones, the ones that are really proactive and are excellent.
Eric Cook 18:24
Don't spend time with any of the bozos. No, not at all.
Jack Hubbard 18:27
The second thing I always say to marketing professionals, go to sales training, go and participate so that you understand what your bankers are going through. The third is make joint calls and go to pipeline meetings so that you can understand what's going on. And the fourth thing is, ask your banker if you can go out either with them or alone, and just interview a few of their customers and try to understand what the customer is dealing with. I think once you understand that, yeah, it's a different thing. And it is a little different in that it's a longer buying cycle versus a retail kind of a situation but I think you're right in a lot of ways. It's a people are people are people. Which leads me to my next question about people who aren't people. So last November, we're eating Thanksgiving dinner and while we're eating, open AI is launching, and they're launching chatGPT and now they're up to chatGPT 4 on it won't surprise me at all that you are hands and feet into this but my question is, what do you see in with your banks around chat? GPT who's using it? How are they using it? And if they're not using it because of security? What are you telling them?
Eric Cook 19:47
Yeah, that's another one that I need to check my watch and see how much time we have. At our global convention with WSI, I had the opportunity to sit on a panel discussion on AI and I was one of the instigators within our corporate of creating a workgroup to talk about this. I beat the drum, created a workgroup on ADA accessibility for websites. And now that's something that we talk a lot about. I created a workgroup on web three, and the metaverse and decentralization and NFT's. That got a lot of chatter but people still can't figure out why you'd want to pay more than $2 for a JPEG of a goofy looking ape. I can explain it, but that's going to be too long.
But ChadGPT came along, and immediately, you could use it and see a business kick. I could go into chatGPT and say, you know, at the very basic, write me a job description for a teller. And it would kick that out. Then all of a sudden, people started talking about this, this strategy called prompt engineering, which is where you're teaching the bot, giving an expectation and building its own persona. Instead of give me a job description for a teller. You are the hiring manager and HR professional for a small community bank with six offices located in rural northern Michigan, I need you to write me a job description for someone that would be responsible for online and in person customer service that has the ability to also help with certain additional services such as loans, online banking, potential accounting lookups.
And so you're giving it a little bit more background for it to do a better job. And when you put that in front of anybody, whether it's a banker, or a lawyer, or you know, somebody that owns a pet shop for that matter, and you show them some of those real basic cases of creating something that doesn't have any sort of impact on personally identifiable information, you're not asking it for customer data, you're not giving it sensitive trade secrets, because those are areas where you can certainly get yourself into unknowing trouble. But you're asking it for its advice based on if you're using GPT 4 without browsing or 3.5 or earlier, from 2021 or prior, they will come up with something really amazing for you.
And it will get it about 80% accurate, it will require you to get in and add some of your own personality, some specifics, you can go back and ask it to do some refinement of things. Maybe you forgot to ask it a particular question or give it a particular parameter. Maybe the hours of operation are important, needs to work on Saturdays are important, something along those lines, you could then rework that. And I find myself even communicating with this with Thank This sounds great. Can you also… almost like I'm talking to my wife, when in reality, it's just a program? It says please, and thank you. And absolutely. And here you go. So you sometimes forget that you're talking to a machine.
But when you show that the light bulb goes off much faster than it did with web three, and try to explain the value of a non fungible token much faster than ADA accessibility and does it matter, does it not? All of those are very important, and they certainly serve their purpose. But in the banking industry, when that light bulb goes off, then it's really exciting, because then they start thinking about things that they can use. Where I see questions is one, I do presentations, as you know, and I do marketing forums. And I talked to lots of bankers, and I'm still in rooms of bankers, where I will have 15-20% of the hands with people that have said, “I'm not familiar with it. I've never used it. I don't know anything about it.”
That was the case back in 07,08,09. How many people have got a Facebook page? People look at you like, there's no way a bank would ever have a Facebook page. Are you kidding me? That's too much risk. There's no way we would never be on Facebook. That's ridiculous. So I've seen it before. And it's just in that next stage. So banning it, I don't think is the appropriate solution because it's being embraced by schools. It's being embraced by countries, it's being embraced by the population. It's one of those, the calculator is not going away. The computer is not going away. The phone is not going away. So do I need to know long division? Do I need to know cursive? Probably not anymore.
And the concept around GPT of what it removes you from having to know but introduces so many other things that you have to know on top of it. Prompt engineering, logic, you know, critical thought analysis, validation, research. Those are all things when chat GPT kicks out or any AI for that matter. You have to be able to vet that to say, is that relevant to my industry? Is it relevant to my organization? Does it sound like us? Is it giving accurate data? What's the risk involved in all of this? So, in the community bank space, I don't see a tremendous adoption, yet, there's a lot of excitement. Some banks have had it blocked. And I've been vocal and said, I think that's a mistake, I think blocking it and not providing a we are evaluating the risks and we'll develop a policy as to how we can and cannot use it at the bank, I think is a better approach. Because an HR professional needing assistance in crafting that policy, or putting together a job description, or a series of social media posts that you could use to get you inspired to help your creative juices start flowing, I think are really great ways to use it.
Dumping all of your customer data into GPT. And asking it to do a profitability analysis. No. But you've got platforms like Microsoft introducing copilot where they're building that technology into Excel, your Excel files are accessing your customer data, your customer data is on your own server, co pilot likely will be resident to that program on your server and that shared with Microsoft, it's not far fetched, where you'll be able to use co pilot as AI technology, which I'm sure is going to have some chatGPT blood coursing through its virtual veins, and understanding what your customer makeup looks like take a commercial loan, spread this, you know, credit analysis and give me your recommendation for potential risks and things that I should be worried about over the next three to six months or six to 12 months or 12 to 24 months, and use the technology to be able to supplement what credit analysts are doing. So they could do 300 loans in a day instead of 30. And really use their time more effectively. So lots of other stuff is rolling in my brain. But I'm going to intentionally hit the pause button and see if anything that I talked about sparked another question on your part.
Jack Hubbard 27:12
It certainly does. And I'll tell you a quick story. So I'm working with a bank. And after a meeting, I'm in the office of a couple of commercial folks. And I was asking them how are you using chatGPT? And they said, Well, what's that? Never heard of it. And so I went through it a little bit, but they couldn't get to it at the bank, so they downloaded the app on their phone. I said, Okay, now you're going after a particular city, and you're going after a particular industry and manufacturing. Let's ask ChatGPT to write you a very short LinkedIn post about the benefits of using robotics in manufacturing in this particular city. And they typed it in and within eight seconds, they had this amazing post, and they were absolutely blown away. So it's here to stay. I think from a sales perspective, there are a ton of great applications. In marketing, there are some great applications. Which leads me to my next question. One of the things you do every day is to help bankers create better websites, I guess, a two fold Question number one, what are you seeing in terms of technology around websites? What's new with websites? And how are you using ChatGPT? As you're creating these websites?
Eric Cook 28:40
Yeah. So one drum I've been beating for a really long time is every bank should be using some sort of a content management system that's easy for them to use to produce content that's relevant to their target audience that's really SEO 101. You know, you're wanting to educate the algorithm that is Google, about what you do and make sure that it understands that you've got experience, expertise, authority and trustworthiness. They added the extra E this last year, but their E algorithm of experience, authority and trustworthiness. Got an extra E. But it's all validated on that and your website. While it may feel like you get better engagement or more visibility through social media, your website remains that property that you own and control everything else you're building on leased land.
We saw that with Twitter, Elon Musk came along and bought it and decided to change the rules of the game and a lot of people have left. I got an email from a bank just this week. We've ditched the Twittersphere because it's a toxic environment. We're done. We spent time trying to build it but we can't control it and we're gone. And we need to talk to you about how we replace that or do something different because Now we think Instagrams are where we want to go. But Zuckerberg could do that at some point down the road. So you want to give that to your destination. So content is important to GPT, copy AI, Jasper, number of different tools that are out there for producing content about things that your customers have an interest in, you take that article on robotics, you know, write me an article that's relevant to my audience that has certain information and particular keywords that we want to be found for but then you have to go in and you've got to edit it, it turns us into editors instead of having to be authors, which a lot of people are more comfortable editing than being the author, and it can get you to that 80% a whole lot faster than you write it yourself.
So I think content creation is certainly one thing that is supercharging a lot of websites and if you're not comfortable doing that, you need to find a partner that is and you need to find a partner that's very transparent in what they do and don't use AI for because we've heard other bank marketers that have said, you know, well, if my agency is just kicking out a bunch of stuff from chatGPT, then I don't know why I'm paying them all this money every month, right? We like to say and a buddy of mine in WSI, who is based out of South Africa, set it on the panel discussion, brainstormed by AI but humanized by WSI. Because we use the technology to help get us a rough draft and sense inspiration but then you got to come in and add your polish and make sure that it's there.
So content, I think is one thing, and your CMS or content management system needs to easily support that and make it easy for you to do that, whether you're producing it or you're working with someone that can produce it, and then you just polish it and post it but we're also seeing other things like personalized content. So when somebody comes back, I recognize “Hey, Jack coverage, a business owner, Eric's a prospective mortgage customer, so and so as a college student, or maybe a military person.” Now I can go ahead and with tools that are available through the marketplace, and I met with some of these folks at the financial brand forum last year, being able to tie in some of that that can swap out imagery and text and content on pages so that you feel like it's really a website built for Jack Hubbard, as opposed just a website built for customers of the bank that Jack covered happens to banquet.
And so the price point on that stuff is still a little bit up there. But I think with everything it's going to trickle down. And eventually the price point is going to be where it's going to be an attractive option, you just need to make sure that whatever content management system you're using has the ability to support that type of technology. It's not closed. It's open and extendable. So that's important. Security, you know, IP blocking, geo filtering, two factor authentication, the bad guys are not slowing down. Dotbank, I think, is getting more popular. Talk to a bank today. We've been talking to them for the last year and a half and they had a phishing attack that took a bunch of their emails. And it was a spoof domain that looked really similar but not quite. And if they were using a dot bank, it could not have been spoofed because you can't register a dot bank domain, if you're not a bank. And that was the one thing I got a phone call yesterday. And it's like, “Okay, I think we need to talk. We've, you know, senior management finally got it, because we're dealing with all of these spoof domains. And customers have lost some money. And so it's creating.”
So that's another area. And then I would say just marketing, automation technology, of putting out information, responding to people automatically when they're interested in that lower piece, or that lead magnet, building some sort of an automated process behind the scenes. So Jack's interested in downloading my new ebook on chatGPT, it automatically sends him but if he doesn't click the link, it'll send him a little loving reminder. That's not “Hey, why didn't you download it?” but it's phrased the right way. “Hey, in case you missed it, we're sending you the link again. I want to make sure you get this valuable resource that you want” And ways to just leverage technology to keep people connected better, I think, is where we're really headed for our websites, because we have control over it. And we can do more with it, instead of it just being a place for people to log into online banking, and use it more as a proactive tool.
Jack Hubbard 34:28
Well, if we're not recording, I still love talking to Eric because I get so much information from him because he's out there. If there's a conference where Eric Cook isn't speaking, it's probably not worth attending, if it's marketing or AI or something along those lines. So you're out there with all of the bankers so this phenomenon we're in now of deposits, uninsured deposits, people moving deposits. Are you talking to community bankers all the time? How much of this has stabilized? And how much are we still facing in terms of deposit movement?
Eric Cook 35:14
I'm formulating my thoughts, and popping them out. I just got an email this morning that one of our clients just bumped their rate by almost 40 basis points on a CD product that we had running for them. And, you know, so it's an important factor for a lot of our bank customers, we've got some that are loaned up. And it's, I don't want to say sink or swim but it's, you know, we are loaned up, we really don't want to or are almost at the cap of our borrowings, we got to bring in some deposits. And you know, you've got some of these neobank fintechs, you know, like Wealthfront, I think they're paying over 5% for just a regular liquid savings account. But it's all app driven. There's no office, you can go to if something goes wrong, you're taking the risk, can you talk to anybody, I don't know, not sure but somebody's looking for a pure rate for liquidity. That's a pretty attractive option for someone that might be comfortable living in that world. I think there's more interest.
Now we've talked to a couple banks that have had customers that have come in a little concerned about FDIC insurance and realizing that even though nobody lost any money with Silicon Valley, they're not thinking about it. And, the banks that are using, formerly known as cedars, but the inter fi network deposits, I think are glad they're doing that, because they offer multimillion dollar deposits through this synchronized repository or shared data, shared deposit network, trying to put the right words together but you know what I mean. But you can get multimillion dollar insurance with that platform. And I think that's helping a lot with some banks that are able to participate in that platform.
But the challenge that we see, unfortunately, and I'm not going to mention any names, but a lot of the account opening platforms that are available through some of the incumbent core providers are just gonna blanket statements that may not necessarily be the most friendly and smooth and I would encourage any banker listening to this, to go out to a chime or to go out to a Wealthfront or go out to a Dave and open an account, you'll probably be done in 10 minutes, funded, open, ready to go. And then use that same mobile device and do that at your bank, if you can, and just compare the transaction time, the experience, how much data you got to put into your system versus the other platforms, doing intelligent lookups leveraging information, scanning driver's licenses, auto filling addresses, drastically different experience, drastically different experience.
And until we fix that problem, or are comfortable spending a little more money and going out using third party systems that do it right, but are going to cost more, it's going to be really hard because not everybody wants to get in the car, drive to the office and sit in front of a new accounts clerk for 45 minutes filling out paperwork, those days have passed, especially for today's deposit acquisition process. And don't even get me started on back end tracking and analytics reporting, because most of the platforms are also blind to anything related to analytics or being able to measure any sort of a conversion to validate ad spend. So that's a soapbox that if anybody's ever heard me speak or as a customer, you know that I will proudly stand on and encourage you to beat that drum with your vendors to ask for the ability to know what is and isn't happening so you can measure those activities.
Google Analytics is moving to a completely new analytics platform designed to pay attention to the user and the person. Yet, we're not able to take advantage of any of that in the banking industry, because the banking apps don't accept the code. The online account opening platforms typically don't accept the code. There's just a lot of things that are tying our arms or hands behind our backs and I'm hoping that that changes over the next couple of years for sure.
Jack Hubbard 39:43
Yeah, and you were talking about the third you know, the big core providers and I was talking to a bank the other day and they were talking about deposits and different things like that. And they said, Well, you know, customers may not take all of their money out but they may take some of it out. How are you watching diminishment? And they kind of looked at me like I had green hair and said, Well, what's diminishment? I said, if you're a smart bank, and you have a good core provider, and then you have good policies, what you'll do is you'll put some rules in, where if the account moves down by this amount, that will automatically trigger an email to the branch manager or some account manager or some relationship manager that says, “Hey, by the way, XYZ company just pulled $400,000 out, they got another 800, you might want to give them a call.” Now the bank said, Wow, that's a great idea. I said, your core provider probably does that. They came back to me and said, Oh, they do it. We just didn't turn that on, because we thought it was expensive. And that's the problem in our industry, we need to look at stuff beyond expensive, because how expensive is it? When millions of deposits leave your bank?
Eric Cook 41:03
Exactly. Exactly yeah. And there's, there's settings and not that I'm a GA4 for fanboy by any stretch of the imagination, you talk to a marketer, and I've yet to meet a digital marketer that's excited about GA4 replacing Universal Analytics but in both of those platforms, they've got some of those parameters where something goes up or down by 25%, or 50%, or some drastic number, you can set it to give you an alert like, “Hey, this, this is really good. Like, we just got a boatload more traffic to the website, what's going on?” Oh, the government just announced that they're going to be doing stimulus checks and everybody's going to the website to check to see whether the deposits made and which caused a lot of the quarter providers online banking systems crash because they couldn't handle the the onslaught of everybody wanting to log in to check to see if their 800 bucks has shown up.
But being able to set those certainly is an important element and we often think of filling the bucket with new customers, but we don't pay as much attention to the bottom of the bucket that might have some holes. And if people are trickling out, it's top of the funnel all day long, and it really shouldn't be just top of the funnel. It's top of the funnel, but then once they're in how do you take care of them? And then how do you take those that are doing business with you and enhance what they're doing? And to be able to then grow that relationship and create fans, and, and testimonials and referrals and all of those sorts of things.
Jack Hubbard 42:38
Well you've got a lot of fans, and one of the things that you did a couple of years ago was start something called the “Linked Banker.” Tell us a little bit about the Linked Banker. And by the way, everybody, you need to join the Linked Banker, Eric will tell you how to get to the site but one of the things that we I mean, time flies when I talked to Eric, one of the things you should know is that if you're part of the linked banker, these are the kinds of conversations you have all the time with different people around the country from different banks, who are absolutely willing to share ideas. So talk about the Linked Banker and how do I get there?
Eric Cook 43:16
Yeah. So thelinkedbanker.com is the website. It was the creation and it took me a little bit longer than I wished it would have but it was the creation of an environment that I felt was needed because I would talk to bankers after I would do presentations about digital about social relationship, reputation building, and they would come up. I'm sure you've heard the same thing. Like I now get it I now know what a hashtag is. I now understand why LinkedIn is just isn't a resume file.
I now understand whatever the epiphany was, but they would go back to their bank and it would be them. They would be alone island in the midst of skeptical other old bankers that don't want to do it that don't trust it. That's a waste of time, don't spend your… and I would see him at another event down the road and they would be frustrated. And I'd be like, “Hey, how's it going?” Well, you know, I had some good steam for a couple months, but then, you know, I really didn't get the support management didn't really like me doing it. And I just, yeah, I stopped. I really shouldn't have but I really didn't really, I didn't have anybody in my corner.
And so the Linked Banker is really designed to help banking professionals on the WSI side, we support the bank but at the Linked Banker we support the banker. And are there with mastermind calls, learning community, networking opportunities to be able to bring bankers together to teach and share and spew out all the stuff that I've accumulated in my brain and all the shinies and everything that I love to follow, but put people together so that they can lean on each other. And it's a variety of bankers from different sized banks, different areas of the bank, different regions of the country. And it's just been a real joy over the last couple of years to see it grow and to see the bankers support each other and some of the cool stories that have come out of it. It's just been a really, really fun process to be a part of.
And I feel like the bankers that are in it are getting some good value, not just from me, I hope I'm doing that but from one another, and the support and some people have gotten new job opportunities. Some people have gotten promotions, some people have gotten opportunities to serve on boards in the industry, that wouldn't have happened if they hadn't gained more visibility and been confident in it's okay to tell your story. It's okay to share information that isn't just the latest Certificate of Deposit promotion that your bank has on its LinkedIn page. People want to know, you know, you like you, trust you, those are the things that people want. And that's just been really great to see happen.
So we do Happy Hour events using LinkedIn live audio, the second Thursday, of every month at 5pm Eastern Time. That's probably the best way just to get a sense of the conversation. We had those restricted to our members only, and we opened those up several months ago. And if you've never been part of a live audio event, it's a great experience. But it also gives you networking opportunities, and you get a little bit of a taste of the back and forth that we like to foster within our link banker community. So keep an eye on, connect with me on LinkedIn and put it in your calendar as a soft hold for the second Thursday, and maybe you'll get a chance to see my buddy Jack also show up and be part of the conversation too.
Jack Hubbard 46:54
I've been there. It's really, really fun. And you, you get a chance to see Eric a number of different ways. And one of them for Community Bank marketers that's really close to my heart is the sales and marketing school. You mentioned a little bit about what you teach but I'm curious if a community banker comes to you, Community Bank, marketing professional or sales professional we've had.
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Jack Hubbard 47:37
Retail people, commercial people, Treasury people, they come to you and say, “Hey, tell me about this sales and marketing school.” What do you say?
Eric Cook 47:45
So I think it's, you know, it's unique, in my opinion, and I've not been to any of the other marketing schools, I went to the three year graduate school of banking program where marketing was a component. Our mutual good friend, Tom Hershberger, was one of my instructors. And now he's a colleague of mine, and we teach together, which is pretty cool but the Sales and Marketing School I think, is a great blend in the sense that it teaches bank marketers, the basics of banking, it starts off because a lot of marketers get hired, and they go into marketing because they're creative and they can do cool stuff and graphics, and they understand the computer and they know social media. But if you ask them to calculate a return on equity, or what net interest margin means, or what they talk about an Alko, you're gonna get a deer in headlights, because they've never gone through that.
And in order for them to feel like they're contributing to the organization, I think it's important that they connect the dots and see what work they do as a marketing professional, as a sales professional, helps to contribute to those bigger discussions that happen in the boardroom, and during Alko and pricing and things that move the needle for a financial institution. And I've heard bankers that have come out of that and have said, I now understand how I can make an impact. You know, before it was like, I just create really fun, cool looking stuff that's, you know, that I think looks cool and gets likes and comments but I don't really know the big picture of developing a marketing strategy and a product launch and pricing and what goes into rates, I have a better appreciation for that and then by knowing that, it gives them the power to demonstrate their value to the organization better. And we've seen some really nice stories of folks that have been able to, you know, ascend to that corporate ladder as a result of being more valuable to the organization.
Jack Hubbard 49:39
It’s right on target. And there's so many other things. Kathy Strasser is our brand new faculty member this year. She's batting cleanup for us and she's going to talk about the incredible bank and the branding there. But I think the other thing too is getting people to understand what it takes to get the C suite because your comment was, you know, you go to the link banker, you go to these events and you'd come back and there's a bunch of old bankers and you don't get a chance to really have your message told. The link banker and the Sales and Marketing School both do that. Well, Erica, you've been very kind with your time. It's always great to talk to you. I will see you very very soon and thanks for joining us today.
Eric Cook 50:25
Yep, bring your wallet.
Jack Hubbard 50:29
Thanks for listening to this episode of Jack Rants With Modern Bankers with my good friend Eric Cook. This in every program is brought to you by the amazing people at RelPro and vertical IQ. Join us next time for more special guests bringing in marketing sales and leadership ideas that will provide your bank or credit union with that competitive edge you need to succeed.
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