Episode 8: Amber Farley
Mastering Modern Banking Marketing: Insights from Branding Expert Amber Farley
Join us for a captivating and informative eighth episode of "Jack Rants With Modern Bankers," featuring esteemed guest Amber Farley, a distinguished branding and marketing expert in the banking industry. With a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that marketing professionals face today, Amber shares her wealth of knowledge on a variety of critical topics. From tackling the complexities of branding and rebranding in a rapidly changing environment to harnessing the potential of social media for personal and professional growth, Amber's insights provide a roadmap for success in modern banking marketing.
Tune in to discover strategies for effective communication, budgeting, and measurement, as well as practical advice on navigating your path to the C-suite. Whether you're a seasoned marketing professional or an aspiring leader, this episode offers valuable guidance and inspiration to enhance your marketing efforts in the banking sector.
Amber Farley 00:00
We're constantly looking at the way our people interact, because that's a big, big, big part of the brand. That's the experience, right? So we want to make sure that the layout, the aesthetics, the feeling, which you know, we don't talk about feelings a lot in banking, but the feeling that people have when they walk in and they experience is still a very important part of what we do as it relates to rebranding a bank.
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 Amber Farley. When bankers think of branding, Amber Farley's name is always at the top of their list. Amber is EVP and partner at financial marketing solutions, also known in banking as FMS. Amber earned a mass communication and advertising degree from Middle Tennessee State University and she was a student of mine at ABA School of marketing and management. She is also on the faculty there now. Amber speaks everywhere, and she is amazing. Whether it's in front of an audience or working behind the scenes on a rebranding of a $3 billion bank. Amber teaches at Stonier School of banking at GSPs Graduate School of banking, and she's on my faculty at GSPs Sales and Marketing School. This lady is pure energy, you're going to enjoy this interview. It's Amber Farley on Jack Rants With Modern Bankers. Here we go!
As I mentioned in the introduction, Amber Farley is one of my favorite people on Earth. And not only that, she is one of the best branding experts in banking that you could find. And I'm thrilled to have you on today. As I told you, I always like to start with, ‘Tell me something good.” So tell me something good.
Amber Farley 02:39
Well, my cup of coffee is good. No, yeah, I love that question. So my kid’s elementary school, it's so funny, they play that song, I can't believe I'm about to do this but you know, the “Tell me something good…🎶” Every Friday and on their assemblies, they make the kids do this. And I think it's such a good, like tradition to focus on the good. You know, there's a lot of things good, Jack, without sounding cheesy. You know, I'm healthy, which anybody that's been following my story for a couple of weeks, we had a couple of viruses come through the house, because you know, that's what kids do and I got it. And I tell you what, strep and Edina virus and double pink eye as an adult as a working traveling adult, is rough.
So I'm thankful for my health. I'm thankful that it's 80 degrees, the sun is shining. I just got back from a trip to New Jersey and honestly traveling and what I do for that part of my job is probably my favorite thing that I do just getting to network and meet with other bankers. And this time I was at a Women and Banking Conference. So there were about 300 attendees and, man, yes, I had a session actually had two back to back and I enjoyed attending it as much as I did speaking at it, just sort of filling up your own cup and remembering you know that there is real power and being able to focus on what makes you happy and what makes you kind of get up in the morning and feel proud about the work that you do. So I'm feeling very… my cup is very full today, this morning. Coffee cup and my internal cup.
Jack Hubbard 04:15
There you go. And it always is, Amber. I've never known you to be having a Debbie Downer day in any way, shape or form. So that's great. FMS, you mentioned your story. You have a great story at FMS. Tell everybody what FMS does?
Amber Farley 04:32
Yeah, sure.So FMS stands for financial marketing solutions. We are a full service branding and marketing agency right outside of Nashville, Tennessee. So we're in Franklin. And usually if I say, “Hey, anybody know where Franklin is?” And if we're in the south, yes, everybody does, because that's where all the country stars live. But if you're not like I was in New Jersey, I asked them they were all like, nope, so right outside of Nashville, a little town and what we do we're a full will serve as brain and marketing agency that only works with community banks. Well, mostly community banks across the country.
And what that means is when a bank is needing to go through a deeper dive into their brand, and what I mean by that is why they exist as a company, then they hire us to help them do that. And then we develop a strategic marketing plan to help them do that externally. But also, a big part of our process is focusing on the internal aspects of the brand. And really, why do people want to work there? Why do people want to be a part of what you're doing? How do we cultivate that culture and really make it something that we're proud of?
So in a nutshell, that's what we do. We rebrand banks, we help banks discover their brand. And we work with banks from 200 million and assets to 36 billion. So it's not like it's specific to any one size bank. You know, every company has a brand either because of what you're doing, or in spite of what you're doing. And it's our job to really help discover that authentic brand, so that we're telling a compelling story to our people, both employees, but also customers and the communities that we serve.
Jack Hubbard 06:09
Well, it's been an interesting challenge recently, for branding experts like you. We've got an industry in somewhat of chaos. Recently, the Fed came out and talked about their rates. And then after that, I was watching some channels, and they were talking about, “Oh, there's gonna be more banking issues, etc.” So we've got an industry in challenged, we've got some banks that are challenged and then we've got people inside banks that have personal brands that need to work on some things. Talk about all three of those. Where are we with all of this?
Amber Farley 06:48
Oh, yeah, I wish I had the answer to where it's going. right? Chaos. So yeah, that word. You know, it really is subjective, in my opinion, on kind of where your perspective is. When I think of banks and trust, I don't know that trust is gone, you know, at all we do when we're rebranding banks and doing brand studies for banks, we get the ability to talk to the constituents that make up the bank. So we're talking to not only the board of the directors and the executive team, and you know, the head of each business line and employees, but we're talking to customers and non customers. And yeah, I think even recently, with the collapse of the three major US banks, you know, in when was that March, I guess, back in March, obviously, yeah, that shook the nation. I think it made everyone question some things but from what I've been reading, I don't know that Americans' confidence that their money is safe is necessarily gone, right? What it's done is it made people ask questions about, how does this work? What is the FDIC insurance coverage? And what does that mean when they fail? And how does that impact me? You know, we work Jack, I know, we've talked about this a lot. We work with community banks, and I am just a huge believer in what they do. This is not lip service, you know, I've seen it, we get the ability to travel to small towns all across America, and be able to see these banks that have been around for 100, 150 years and their legacy markets and they're growing into these new markets and trying to understand how to be relevant. And what you see is they really are the front porch to their community, right? Not just the feel good stuff with the community donations, but truly helping these businesses start and thrive in their communities, they are invested a lot of times and the true personal success of what people are doing from a financial perspective. And, you know, I just think there's a lot of questions being asked more so in my opinion than chaos, we think about it as chaos, because it's like, “Oh my gosh, like, you know, everything's not status quo but how do we go about doing that?”
So reinforcing constantly, not just in moments of chaos, but reinforcing constantly, why we exist and what our purpose is not just that we offer checking and mortgage and commercial loans and these things, right, but why do we exist as a company? What are we here to do, and how can we serve you and constantly reiterating that story, I think is one of the most important things to rebuild that trust to make people feel like, “Okay, everything is good. You're right, you're right. You've got my back. I'm here. I'm invested in this.” And I think as long as we continuously do that as an industry, we're going to be okay.
Jack Hubbard 09:33
Yeah, it was interesting when SVB went down. I think it was a Friday. On the Saturday I went to 20 Bank websites, and I looked to see if any of them had reacted to this at all, only one had, and it was a community bank. And it they made front and center their annual report. They talked about their Bauer ratings and safety and security. Because while the weekend happens, people are worried about their money and they're looking around and if they can go to the website of their bank or a bank that they don't do business with, and it says “We're safe. Here's why. Here's what that means.” I think that creates a level of confidence. You work with a lot of CMOs in community banks and some could say, “Well, okay, things have subsided a little bit, it's fine.” But the next one, Amber, is just around the corner. So what are you telling your clients to do to get ready for this when this next thing happens?
Amber Farley 10:38
Yeah! That's a great question. I just had this conversation yesterday. There's always something that comes up, right. There's crisis communication, and then there's communication during the crisis. And let me just clarify what I mean by that. Crisis communication is obviously meant to mitigate a crisis that has impacted your brand directly, right, we did something wrong or something happened and now we've got to talk about it right, sort of go back and fix things and be able to have that right narrative about what we did wrong and how it's impacting our brand.
But then there's communication during a crisis, which is the negative action or events, you know, that has happened, that's widespread, right? It's a widespread crisis situation that's bigger than the brain itself. This is bigger than me, Bank A. This is now something we're all dealing with global pandemic, when there was the water shortage in Texas, obviously, this bank failure system, right, these are things that impact that we have to decide as a brand. Do we respond? And do we not?
So one of the things that I've been trying to tell banks when I'm speaking at a conference or at a school and even our clients is, think about your crisis communication plan, ahead of the crisis happening, right. So things to ask yourself is like what happened? Whatever it is, whatever that crisis is, what happened, it could be, you know, the active shooter that happened in Nashville, right, banks had to respond around that. It wasn't out of bank, but banks had to respond around that some of them here locally, because it was something that was happening. It didn't happen at the bank, but it was something that happened.
So whether it happened to your brand, or just a widespread crisis situation in your community, or globally, what happens? Where did it happen? When did it happen? Who was involved? How did it happen? How many people does this impact? How many people know about it? And then decide, all right, we need to know what to say and what not to say. Because this is one thing that I keep reiterating, not saying something is saying something, right? I mean it is. So if you are not joining a social movement that's happening and being talked about all on social media, and you stay silent, that’s saying something, and that's okay, either direction is okay. But you have to know why you're joining the conversation or not joining the conversation and be prepared, and be prepared for that.
So anytime possible. When there's a break in the busy day to day life of a bank marketer, I definitely try to encourage, Okay, think through what your own crisis communication plan is. One of the things that I try to remind banks is, you know, when you're trying to join a conversation, does it feel relevant to our audience and what's going on? One of the biggest things that happened to me that I saw banks do during like the global pandemic, or other crisis situations is what I would call being tone deaf, right?
Normal communication kept going out about, you know, National Donut Day or things that just didn't really fit the mood of the scenario for what was going on. So I try to encourage, you know, take a look at what you're planning to put out, does it feel relevant? Is it relevant to what's going on in the world? And then try to anticipate your audience's emotions and questions and concerns and considerations, regardless of the crisis? Because likely, they're probably the same as yours. We're all human beings, right? So it's probably very similar. And when you're putting together this plan, does that help or add value in any way, right?
Sometimes moments of distraction and positivity is value. So just paying attention to what you're saying, how you're saying it, why you're saying it, and then coming up with the plan for who's responding and how. So, you know, it's not a short answer. I just think sometimes we can get paralysis by analysis when something goes wrong, and we're just kind of like, “Ahh, like, I don't know what to do or how to respond or what I should say.” And I think when we can proactively plan as much as possible, not that it's going to fit perfectly. We all know what happens when we plan but not that it's going to fit perfectly, but trying to be as prepared as possible is key there.
Jack Hubbard 14:43
Yeah. No, it's true. And it's gotten so much more difficult today to be a marketing professional. When I started in banking, back in 1973, I was in the market and not 1873, a lot of people think that. But my role was twofold, have enough dog biscuits in the driving, and make sure we put an ad in the paper once a week that the bank president's wife liked because she actually owned 54% of the bank. It sure is a lot harder now. And not only do marketing professionals have to look at their advertising and their branding, etc, they sort of have to be engineers, in some ways, because the branch configuration has changed. How do your clients or how do you see marketing professionals getting involved as the branches reconfigure to make it more of a better experience for the customers?
Amber Farley 15:42
That's an ongoing… is the battle stronger?. It's an ongoing battle, right? I mean, there's a lot of opinions on the future of the branch. What that means, is the branch dead? is it not? You know, I've been at FMS since 2009, during another crisis. You know, when I feel like the conversation was going on, then. From what we're seeing in our research, the branch is certainly not dead. Let me explain. You know, we do, again, focus groups around the country, and they're still very much a combination mentality about how people want a bank. We asked that question, actually, how do you prefer to do your banking? Is it online? Is it mobile? Is it in the branches? Is it a combination, and of course, depending on the age demographic, typically there is a strong opinion on whether it's a combination of mobile and online or a combination of all three.
But usually, the summary of it is I want to be able to bank however, I want to bank whenever I want to bank wherever I want to bank. And normally, in a day to day, I'm just here to check my balance, do very basic transactions. Sure, technology is typically able to do those things just fine but what I've found is that in moments of need, where we need to feel, we need to receive trust, we need to receive advice, we need to receive help with a big decision, whether that's buying a home or deciding which investment account I need to do or whatever it might be that that trust is still in a person. And there was a study that I read recently, by Accenture, they surveyed 49,000 bank customers around the world just recently. And they found that two thirds of them seem to like bank branches in their neighborhood, because it confirms the stability and availability of their bank. And this was consistent across all geographies and all age groups. And the survey found that the reason customers value branches for rare but important functions, right? So like getting advice, sometimes opening up an account if they can't do that digitally.
And then there was a recent Forbes article by Michael Abbott. And he said, Yeah, you know, we have a hard time as consumers as people trusting something we can't see or touch. And so in this moment of three bank failures that happened earlier this year, there's this new focus of a bank branch is an important way of making a bank feel permanent and real and act as a constant reminder of that brand and stability in the community and kind of the ability to have a relationship beyond just a screen. So that's my soapbox, right about why we still consider the branch. In every rebrand that we do the branch is a part of it, because our people are working there, right? This is an environment where they're coming to work every day, and they are servicing our customers.
So when it comes to the brand, yes, the branch matters, we look at ways to showcase the brand visually. Within the branch, we look to reinforce the brand promise with employees through retail, merchandising, and internal applications, anything to kind of make them feel comfortable. And to reiterate what we're promising every single day, we look for ways to enhance conversations and communication. And sometimes that's the structure of the branch or how tellers and CSRS interact with people that are coming in, right? Sometimes that communication is with leadership to employees, sometimes we're looking at the communication between employees to employees, right, both, you know, face to face, but also behind the scenes with other technology types of communications, like the intranet or instant messaging.
So we're constantly looking at the way our people interact, because that's a big, big, big part of the brand. That's the experience, right? So we want to make sure that the layout, the aesthetics, the feeling, which you know, we don't talk about feelings a lot in banking, but the feeling that people have when they walk in and they experience is still a very important part of what we do as it relates to rebranding a bank.
Jack Hubbard 19:48
Boy, that's so true. And part of the whole rebranding or branding of a bank are people and, you know, when I was in banking, it was a little easier, we didn't have self…We weren't on stage 24 hours a day, etc. Now we have all the social media outlets. Talk about and I know you, you know, I was talking to a bank president the other day who you work with. And I said, “Oh, you worked with Amber Farley.” And he said, “All the rebranding is great.” And he said, “You know, she's phenomenal at LinkedIn training.” And I said, Well, of course she is, she's the best. And, he said, “You know, I'm finally getting our people to start to understand how to use LinkedIn.” But it's not only LinkedIn, Amber, it's all kinds of other social media that make you a personal brand. Talk about that a little bit.
Amber Farley 21:04
You know, I mean, I'm a big believer in LinkedIn, I know you are, too, the two of us could sit there and talk about it. What a powerful tool. When you know how to use it and feel confident using it. Personal Branding, I'm gonna tell you something, I haven't told anybody. That word or combination of words drives me crazy. Because what does that mean? Right? What is personal branding? And I mean, yes, honestly, what personal branding is, that's the process of defining and promoting what you stand for, as an individual. And it's the culmination of the experience, it's in skills and values that you bring as an individual, but I'm like, it's just you, right? It's just, it's you. It's what makes you unique, and different and special and good at what you do. And everybody has a brand, because we all have unique personalities. And we talk about this a lot when branding a bank, just like individuals, companies have unique personalities, right. And so it's natural for some of us to be more extrovert and to be able to network and socialize than others, because that's our personality. And it's easier for us to do that. But it's so critical for personal branding, to be a part of the overarching brand, because people trust people, people do business with people, nothing has changed about that for years, decades, centuries, right? That's where our trust is. And that's where our confidence is, is in people.
And so, personal branding, let we'll just keep using that word, but your people, you know, personal branding is so critical to the overall process, because what we need to do is, as part of a branding process for the bank, for the corporate identity of the bank, we have to also identify brand advocates and champions, those that bleed our colors, know, our rally cry, our passionate cheerleaders for the brand, right? Because the reason is we need those people to be, for lack of better words, our spokespeople for who we are and what we do in the community. And so personal branding can definitely elevate the overarching corporate brand of the company. And that is a key benefit of doing LinkedIn training and personal brand training and social selling all that I do. I'm not, I just don't like the word. But you know, it's I like the process and what it is.
What I find from doing this is that it gives people, even your extroverts who are already good at this, but it gives people this confidence of Yeah, like, I'm a thought leader and my subject matter expertise, right, like I am a trusted voice. People come to me for X, Y, and Z. And therefore, I do have an audience that might want to hear my perspective as it relates to business happenings, or bank happenings, or community happenings. And so one of the things that I try to reiterate is, this is not making you do extra work, right. This is simply an additional tool in hopefully your toolbox of what you're already doing and what you're already good at whether you're a commercial lender or branch manager, or CSR or CEO of a bank. We all have to build relationships, we have to nurture relationships. And I'm still a huge, huge advocate of face to face relationships and being able to take someone out to lunch and write a handwritten note and network with them in person, but sometimes we can't. And so the beautiful thing about LinkedIn and the social channels Facebook, wherever you're doing this is that allows you to nurture those relationships in this digital format and to be able to have a voice and a perspective and an opinion in a digital format so that you are building that trust you are building that confidence that elevates you as a professional which will Ultimately elevate the brand of the company too and naturally make you a brand advocate.
So, yeah, I'm a huge component of it. You know, my personal brand on LinkedIn, I use this example a lot. I'm a partner and Executive Vice President of brand development at FMS, that is one part of my LinkedIn personal brand profile, right. But I'm also just a huge social media and digital marketing enthusiast. I used to run that department at FMS. I don't really anymore in my new role, but I'm still I love it, I love that stuff. So another part of my audience is other people like that, that just like to dive in, like Eric Cook, for instance, dive into the digital world and really understand what's happening in that space.
Another part is my keynote speaking abilities, and conference speakers and all of that. So I'm connected to bankers, I'm connected to people that just love social media and digital, I'm connected to people that are looking for speakers at conferences, and schools. And my personal brand sort of straddles all of those elements, because it's who I am as an individual. And so sometimes I talk about things we're doing at the agency, sometimes I talk about things that are happening just in banking, or in digital marketing. And sometimes it's other things, but my audience expects that of me, because they see me as an expert, or subject matter sort of spokesperson on those things. So I reiterate that a lot to bank CEOs or, you know, commercial lenders, like, don't talk about things you're not comfortable with, but talk about things you already feel passionate about and feel good about and that will naturally lead to building that trust and expanding your network there.
Jack Hubbard 26:41
Yeah, no doubt, I want to shift and talk about marketing a little bit in the few minutes we have left. When I was a banker it was, you know, you put a budget together and it was 1% of the bank's assets. We've gone on, we've grown a lot and budgeting has changed a little bit. What do you see around –Because now, there are so many more ways to spend your money. What do you see in terms of bank budgets increasing? Not increasing? And how are bankers budgeting these days?
Amber Farley 27:17
Yeah, good question. So when we go back, and we reflect on banks that we have developed three year marketing plans for because that's what we do when we rebrand a bank, and we're going through this, we put together a 36 month plan. I could go into why but that's the type of plan that we put together. When we go back and kind of look at spend and what was the actual budget afterwards? You know, honestly, Jack, that 1/10 of 1%, still, that industry average still holds true for most banks, sometimes it's a little less, sometimes it's a little more, depending on what their growth strategy is into new markets. So we try and remind banks that a relative marketing budget is critical. We evaluate where we're spending dollars geographically. So if we already have, you know, 88% market share in our legacy markets versus only having 4%. In one of our growth, we understand where that budget needs to sort of happen and be, you know, focus on geographically, we then have to spread it out across all of our strategic goals and initiatives. And this is unique for banks, because sometimes banks have what you would consider your traditional marketing budget plus their community initiatives in their, there’s sponsorship dollars in there. Sometimes technology dollars are in there. If you're doing a new website, where does that budget come from? When we're doing a brand strategy? We have big capital expenditures sometimes that come into play, such as signage and other things that last much longer than three years. But now, where did those budgets come from?
So we have, at the very beginning, a very detailed budget conversation about what is the budget framework for you, Bank A, and how does that budget play out? What's a part of that budget today, as we're looking at a strategy, we consider what needs to be a part of it for this sort of one time rebrand initiative, if there's any one time additional investments that need to happen, and then how we plan that out across traditional and digital media and across all business lines, when you break down a marketing budget, like let's say, a billion dollar bank has a marketing budget annually of a million dollars like that 1/10 of 1%, I would say probably 30% is going toward maybe 35% is going toward digital marketing and the rest more toward traditional still, I see that number getting closer to 50 in the next year or two. And I think that has a lot to do with the retail industry that has already been there, you know, well over 50%. And then usually within that 30% or 35%, I would say about 15 or 20% of that is going towards social channels and that number is growing. So yeah, we're having to look at new channels, but you know, budget. Building your budget really depends on what big initiatives you have going on and how many years your budget is stretching out for those type of initiatives that are happening.
Jack Hubbard 30:06
Yeah. And I was a bank marketing professional for a couple of banks a long time ago. And one of my presidents came to me one day, and he said, “You know, why do we have a marketing department? Marketing is expensive.” I thought, Oh, that's not good for my career but we didn't have very good ways to help the bank understand, “Well, we did this, but we got this.” There are better measurement tools out there now, Amber, and talk about a couple of the measurement tools, and what are some metrics that marketing professionals are using to prove that marketing is an investment and not a cost?
Amber Farley 30:50
Yeah, so there's a lot of different strategies, you can look at this. Whenever you're measuring marketing, you have to really limit your parameters and really measure at the campaign level, when we're looking at brands. And we're looking at these larger initiatives and brand recall and top of mind awareness, there's studies that you can do to really measure that from the beginning till, you know, three years after the fact to see the impact you're making but when you're looking at a marketing campaign and a marketing strategy, and you're saying, okay, was that successful? And was it not, you have to truly identify what your own success metrics are, in other words, KPIs, so key performance indicators, and one of my favorite models is the race model, R-A-C-E, which means we are going to measure KPIs at each level of the customer journey.
The R stands for reaching them, right? So did we actually reach who we wanted to reach. And sometimes I'm just gonna give a quick example, like a branding TV commercial, we'll do that. We didn't ask them to do anything, we didn't ask them to go visit the website, we're just reiterating the brand at this point. But we know we reach them through GRPs. And the metrics that we have for running like a mass TV commercial. So we know what our KPIs for the reach column, and you can apply that to any medium. The A stands for the act, or action. So now the action might very well be the conversion that we want but sometimes it's not. Sometimes there's an action that we want, before the conversion happens.
For example, on Facebook, let's say that we just posted a video that we want people to watch that's geared toward first time homebuyers, and we're explaining what Escrow is, right? And they watched that video. Well, that's not getting them to apply for a loan yet, right. But we know they were interested in watching this video. And therefore we know that was successful because our KPI for that is to watch the video, then the C in race stands for the conversion.
Now this is what you would typically think of, did they open the account? Did they apply for the loan? Did they download the app? Did they attend our events, whatever that conversion is for the campaign you have going on? Now this is the hardest part? Because truly to track ROI at the conversion level, did they open the account, you have to know how much that account was worth to you? So you have to monetize that conversion, you have to understand, okay, we get so many leads that turn into so many account openings. And we know that we get 25 account openings each month. So how much is that worth to us based on the customer lifetime value or whatever other metrics you're using to measure that. So that KPI for the conversions, what you would typically consider the success metric of a true ROI measurement. But that doesn't mean reaching them wasn't successful. Getting them to watch certain pieces of content wasn't successful, because it was part of the journey.
The last part is the E which stands for engagement. And you know, the best brands in the world do this, like Starbucks, bought one at the airport yesterday, I think it was doublestar day. So I got really excited, right? And they're going to promote that back to me, they're going to make me feel good. They're going to engage with me as a customer. And that's a metric for them. Because that “E” of the race model says Okay, keep engaging with your customers, send them those emails, cross sell your efforts, promote what you're doing. And that's another success metric and engagement metric for the whole customer journey.
So it's not a simple answer. It's not like, “Oh, sure, do this marketing campaign and measure this. That's how you're going to be successful.” It's work, you have to have the conversations ahead of your campaign strategy. What do we want to achieve? Who and how are we going to achieve that? Who holds the data that proves we're getting what we wanted? And who's going to report on that? And when? Those questions have to be asked before the campaign even runs in order to be able to truly go back to your executive team and say, Look what we did. Because if you walk in and say Look how many views we got on our escrow video, without the rest of the story that means nothing to them. It means something to us as marketers, but it doesn't mean anything to them. So making sure you show the full journey and the narrative I would say is my best bit of advice there.
Jack Hubbard 35:03
Well, and you talked earlier about communication. And one of the challenges is that if I'm a marketing professional, one of my main jobs is to provide leads. So if I've got market, a mortgage people first time mortgage, people that are looking at my video, and I know who they are, I can send those names over to the mortgage department who might follow up with something of value, because if they're looking at a video, it's possible, they're buying a home. And that's a pretty quick transactional thing, they'll go to a lot of places, and it'll happen pretty quick. The challenge, of course, is that if I provide the lead, and the mortgage professional doesn't follow up on it in a very short period of time, the whole thing fails. This is where you need really good communication with all of the executives in all of the areas and buy in that if they get a lead, they'll follow up on it within X number of time. I don't know what you're seeing in the industry number, but I think that's a big fail.
Amber Farley 36:03
Yeah, no huge fail. But the lack of, alright, data is a big conversation, it's been a big conversation for five, seven years at this point within the industry, maybe longer. We have data available to us, right? The problem is, who owns the data? Who is responsible for saying what this data means? And how can it actually make a difference? Is marketing supposed to gather that data? And then deliver that? Does the data live somewhere else who's actually reporting back to marketing, if we give you this lead, which hopefully that's happening, if we give you this lead? Does it ever get reported back to marketing if that lead was closed, and I see a big gap there, that happens a lot of times.
So it's the lead, it's the information going to and the information coming back. And so I think having those conversations and a plan for where this data lives, who's responsible for it, and how is it being reported is so critical, but you hit the nail on the head there with? Yeah, that's marketing sometimes says, well, we got people to the door, that's all we were responsible for. But not really, if you're responsible to prove that it was successful, then you've got to work with your other counterparts to tell the full complete story. And that requires a strategic direction, as you mentioned, Jack, at a higher level to make sure that all departments are working together to really prove that what we're doing in marketing is working, and we're closing these loans. And if we aren't, this is another critical part. If we aren't, if we're getting all these leads, and they're not turning into customers. Why? What's that funnel process? Why is the bounce happening? Why are we getting that? That's another big point of the conversation that needs to be happening.
Jack Hubbard 37:39
Yeah, couple more questions. One has to do with kind of culminates, all the things we've been talking about. What I hear from bank marketing professionals, and we don't do marketing at all, but we talk to a lot of marketing folks is, I can't get my stuff to the C suite. In other words, I am kind of held back, I’m at the little kid’s table. What are you seeing, first of all, with CMOS being able to go to the C suite? And if I'm a marketing professional, and I want to get there, what do I need to do?
Amber Farley 38:17
I love how you said CMOS immediately, because that's another big topic, or they CMOs? they should be, you know. Okay, a few things. First, asked for it. I've talked to a few marketers recently who had been promoted to CMO. And a big part of that was being their own advocate, right? Saying, this needs to happen, I need to be a part of that conversation. I need to be at that table and here's why. And if the answer is no or not yet, then ask how it can be a yes. You know, knowing what you want and why you want it and how you can contribute. And don't assume that they know that right?
So if you know, hey, I can contribute to the conversation, I need to be at that table because of XY and Z, communicate and let that be told. Another big thing to do, in my opinion, if you're going to ask and be bold there is to make sure that you're educated, not just in marketing, but in how the bank operates and how it runs and what the strategic goals and objectives are and how they make money and what the balance sheet is. And a big benefit or a big resource to be able to do that really well in my opinion are like graduate banking schools, you know, continued education in what's going on so that you are educated beyond just marketing that you understand how marketing can contribute to the bottom line. So schools like GSB Graduate School of thinking and Sales and Marketing School and things like that. Those are what equip us right with the right armor and the right tools and the right weapons to be able to come to the table and ask for a seat there.
Also, marketing is still seen as an expense, especially when it's campaign driven, if you're only focusing on, alright, I'm going to run a checking deposit campaign. And I'm going to do this and you're asking for a seat at the table. And that's what you're doing. That's what marketing is doing, I find it a lot harder to have a seat at the table when it's just focused on that type of stuff, unless you can prove success there. But if you can't, then you're just spinning dollars, right helping to hopefully reach your objectives and goals, but you're spinning dollars.
When a brand is being talked about, when a bank focuses on marketing as part of this holistic brand. It's a game changer, because brands impact everything, the heartbeat of it is probably in marketing, you know, usually marketing understands the impact that brands can have on an institution. But brand impacts every department, every single experience and so when brand is talked about and there's a branding strategy happening, then the seat at the table opens up a lot faster from what we're able to see. Because then you start to say, “Oh my gosh, yeah, marketing is not just the art department back here, marketing is, you know, the customer experience and a whole lot of departments all rolled up in one about how that's going to impact the brand there”
Jack Hubbard 41:12
Yeah, no doubt about it. And you mentioned banking schools. As the last question I know of a banker that went to our sales and marketing school last year, and this year ended up starting her career at Stonier. So I think that one of the things bankers, CMOs marketing officers, whatever you call yourself, need to be thinking about is how does the bank make money. And it's not just on the retail side, but on the commercial side of the house. Get familiar with things like margins, and targeted industries, and all the things that we need to know, and I always tell bank marketing professionals go on some calls with bankers, so that you can really understand what the customer is feeling and thinking, I think that'll help building collateral and advertising, go to the sales training, and go to the pipeline meetings. And to your point, you're not going to, somebody's not just going to say, “Oh, we need to invite the marketing personnel pipeline need.”it's not going to happen. You just gotta ask. And so you're in a sales position as well.
Well, speaking of sales, the last question I want to talk to you about is you, if there's a banking school that you don't teach at, they probably either are full with other instructors, or they don't do something in branding and marketing, because you're everywhere. You teach at stonier you're at the ABA Marketing School, which is near and dear to my heart, certainly. And you're teaching for us at the Graduate School of Banking Sales and Marketing School. Talk about what you teach there and if I was a chief marketing officer, and I go to my president, and I say, “Hey, I'm thinking about going to the school, why should I go?”
Amber Farley 42:48
Yeah, first off, it is my favorite thing that I do. There's something I don't know that you know, but I wanted to be a teacher back in the day prior to being a marketer. So now I've got this career that allows me to do both. And it's still sort of surreal that I get the opportunity to teach something, you know, that I'm so passionate about. Such an honor indeed, truly at all of those organizations. So at GSB, I teach brand development. What that means is, as part of the sales and marketing school, I am teaching what it means to develop your banks brands, both from an internal perspective and really looking at that, but also from an external perspective and the value of brand and how that plays into the overall marketing and sales role there for those that are attending and what the impact of brand can really be. So really walking through a very detailed process about how to apply that back at your bank and to really be able to think more holistically when it comes to your brand. What's unique, honestly.
And you know this, but I'll say it for the audience. What's unique about the GSB Sales and Marketing School and honestly, I didn't know what made it so unique until I attended it as an instructor is that it really integrates two vital disciplines that unfortunately, you're still somewhat separate in a lot of banks. There’s sales and there's marketing. And you and I both know that they need to be integrated to work well together, but a lot of times it's still happening, separate, right, and how are these things integrating with one another?
So it really, the school really helps combine the thought process of why these two disciplines need to be working together and really provide practical expertise, practical things that you can bring back to the bank and have a very tactical understanding and explanation of how I can be better and more involved with both Sales and Marketing side of the bank and really be able to do that.
You know, we mentioned that these types of schools help just with the notion of how banks work and the business of banking and you know why brands matters and why these marketing strategies will impact the bottom line of the bank. And that's another big benefit of the school because you're getting different perspectives from different instructors on really key elements about how to help the bank succeed, which I think will give you a more holistic narrative when you go back to the bank, depending on your role there about how each of these disciplines can work together to really help advance the brain of the bank.
Not to mention, Madison is amazing. I think I just walked around wanting to be back at college last summer, when I was there, I was like, “Oh, I just want to go back.” It was beautiful. And I mean, I might be biased but I think the faculty is kind of fun to write, we all get along really well. And just a lot of fun, a lot of energy. Just a really fun time to kind of fill your cup as we started this morning's conversation and just be able to invest back into yourself so that you can give back and invest back to the bank.
Jack Hubbard 46:06
I think you're spot on. And the fact that there are only 50 bankers maximum that we accept, in terms of registrations, and you talked about the faculty, Eric cook, and Mike Weir, Tom Hershberger, Lindsey green. And this year, we have Kathy Strasser, who is EVP of incredible Bank and she's going to talk about how she got an incredible bank to be an incredible bank. So it's a great thing. Amber, talk about the last question, how do people get a hold of you?
Amber Farley 46:36
Oh, gosh, well, LinkedIn, you can find me. Amber Farley, it's my username on LinkedIn, I was lucky to claim that, you know, public profile way back when, which is something else we could talk about. LinkedIn is probably the best way I am very active on there. You can also call me anytime, you can email me it's [email protected] You can visit financialmarketingsolutions.com and read about our team. If you're ever in Franklin, you can stop by, we're on Coal Springs Boulevard. But yeah, our phone number 615-591-2073 however you want to reach out so happy to give you my cell phone number too probably not on video. But if you want to do that, I'm happy to be available at any point to have conversations.
Jack Hubbard 47:26
Amber, you've been very gracious with your time and you are so talented and the clients that you work with, it's a real privilege for them to get to work with you. So thanks for your time today. Really appreciate it.
Amber Farley 47:37
Jack, I can't thank you enough. It's always such a joy and pleasure to talk to you. And thank you for just letting me be able to share a part of my story and be a part of this conversation. And you know, it's a small industry, small world, right? We're all in this together. So I'm just a big advocate of what you do and what you've done. I know the whole industry looks up to you. So anytime I get a chance just to talk with you, I learned from you. And I just enjoy being a part of the conversation and what you continuously do for the industry. So thank you very much for your time too.
Jack Hubbard 48:05
That's very kind. Thanks, Amber. Thank you. Thanks for listening to this episode of Jack Rants With Modern Bankers with my guest Amber Farley. This in every program was brought to you by our friends at RelPro and Vertical IQ. Join us next time for more special guests bringing you marketing, sales and leadership insights and ideas that will provide your bank or credit union with a competitive edge you need to succeed.
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