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Episode 37 - How to Foster Marketing Employee Growth at Your Bank or Credit Union

Meredith Olmstead
November 2, 2022

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Financial institution marketers can sometimes struggle getting internal buy-in for certain strategies, which can make them feel undermined. Fostering growth for you bank and credit union marketers can look like:

  • Making sure they feel appreciated and understood by their peers, and other department heads.
  • Acknowledgement by the executive team.
  • Maintaining an open line of communication.
The FI GROW team shares first hand experience and examples of how banks and credit unions have fostered the growth of their marketing employees using these tactics.

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Transcription:

If you're looking for best practices for your bank or credit union, join us while we talk all things sales, marketing, and strategy for financial institutions. Let's make it happen with FI GROW Solutions.

Meredith Olmstead:

Hi, there. I'm Meredith Olmsted, CEO and founder of FI GROW Solutions. We are an inbound marketing agency. We do digital marketing and sales consulting for banks and credit unions. I'm here with our chief of strategy, Penny VanderBush. Say hi Penny.

Penny VanderBush:

Hey everyone.

Meredith Olmstead:

We were just having an awesome conversation, a really awesome conversation actually about how our relationship with some of our clients who we think of as partners has evolved over the course of a year or two. I thought, you know what? This is a really good conversation to have about the value of really solid relationships with external experts or partners and how that can impact your internal departments and teams at your financial institutions.

I wanted to hit record because Penny and I were just sharing some relationship building and some takeaways we've been having from relationships with marketing teams, specifically at a couple of different institutions that we work with. Specifically a team that we've been working with for now almost two full years and a team that we're just starting to work with. It's kind of cool to think about the two in the same time.

Some of the challenges we saw with both of these teams we wanted to share and then we wanted to share how we've seen those teams evolve and really rise up to meet those challenges. Some of the things that we see a lot with marketers, with marketing department heads, they're kind of middle management or even at a CMO level, but somewhere in the midst there. Not quite C level, but a little below is that they tend to have, they can struggle with getting internal buy-in. Sometimes they'll lack some confidence over time because of that, because people are constantly, why, why, why? That doesn't make sense or whatever. They don't really understand all the strategy behind it so that can undermine and make people feel like, oh, maybe I don't know what I'm doing. They don't always feel like appreciated necessarily by their peers, by other department heads and heard in general through the executive team. That's definitely something that we see with both of these instances we were talking about. Penny, what else? We were talking about a few different things.

Penny VanderBush:

I think that playing off of that note, when you start to feel like you're not understood or heard, you can easily start to take it personally and I think we see that a lot. We have seen marketers almost in tears or have an emotional reaction to what is happening inside the workplace because they're so frustrated, they're just so frustrated. I think that where we see that the most is that sometimes a marketing department is actually underneath a C level position that's not marketing. They might be under retail or sales or operations or even HR.

Meredith Olmstead:

Lending even.

Penny VanderBush:

Yeah, lending. In some institutions, marketing is like, I don't know, they're not structured so that they have a seat at the C level table. When that happens, it becomes incredibly frustrating and difficult for a marketer to feel supported and encouraged in many cases because they don't feel as though their boss really understands what they're trying to do or their goals or doesn't have the time to learn because they're also trying to do these other responsibilities for other departments in areas that they're responsible for. I definitely think that we've seen a lot of people, they start to take it personally.

Meredith Olmstead:

I think, what else I was going to say about that too is that it's sometimes it's to nobody's fault really. It's not a blame thing. If your senior team really doesn't know how to support the growth of a marketing professional in learning their craft more and becoming more confident in all those things. I mean from a leadership perspective, yes, you can really promote listening skills and communication skills and all of that, but a lot of executives, they might not know what they don't know. You know what I mean? They certainly don't know what their marketing team doesn't know so they're kind of like, well, you tell me, but I don't believe you. It's kind of funny where you're like they don't mean to undermine what's happening, but they kind of share their opinion and they think that that matters and it does matter, but it's a weird scenario.

Penny VanderBush:

A hundred percent and good clarifying point. It's not to anybody's fault at all. I think one of the main differences in our work is that we truly consider ourselves to be partners.

I was just on a call the other day where we got on the call with an agenda and we were supposed to be talking about a set of things and I get on the call and someone's visibly upset about something that has recently happened in an incorrect email communication that's gone out. I'm like, whoa, let's throw that agenda aside. We can talk about that stuff another day. Let's address the problem you're having right now. That problem wasn't in our scope of work or our line of deliverables for that client, but it's what they needed at that time.

I think that if you're an internal marketing department and you're considering finding external resources, I think it's really important that you're looking at what that relationship is going to be beyond just tactical deliverables and scope of work. Are these people that you want to get on the call with, get on a phone call with and feel comfortable saying, this is terrible, I'm freaking out. I need help and support.

I got on a call this morning with this team and this is that team that we've been working with now for almost two years. I can remember at the beginning everyone got on the call, extremely professional dress and in the way they spoke. Throughout time we have developed this relationship now through this partnership. We're recording this pre Halloween, someone got on the call and had a wig on and some fun glasses and they're like, this is the last time we're going to see you before Halloween so I thought it'd be fun to dress up and messy buns and all of that. Then we got some really solid work done and they were sharing some really great internal successes.

I think that that is really important. You need that support from anyone you're partnering with to be able to come to a call frustrated and get help. Come to a call feeling fun or silly or whatever that may be, and have it received well and then also still be able to get work done. I think that's important in relationships.

Meredith Olmstead:

I think, yeah, honestly, totally agree. Then I think too, it's a really good partner who has, I mean because we're not just saying this to boost ourselves up, but when you have a number of professionals who have a lot of marketing or just industry area or level expertise, it does give you a sense of confidence and the ability to really talk to the strategy behind what you're doing, the why behind it, and clearly communicate that.

The thing that's nice about doing it with an external partner is that we come to the table without all the emotional baggage of the office politics that go on at the institution. What we can do is say, okay, let's bring it back, calm down. Let's take the emotion out of it. Take these three talking points back to your executive team. Explain this is exactly what we're trying to achieve. Here's your two or three options for customizing if you want to give them a stake in it and then that's how you present it.

It's almost like for you with your clients, I think of you're almost mentoring some of these department heads to be more confident, to be more talented, to grow into their roles even more and to take the emotional components out of it and really just bring it back down to the strategy and the campaigns.

Penny VanderBush:

Yeah, absolutely. I think it helps because like you said, being an external resource, we use different language, we explain things in different ways and we have on some cases data to back what we're talking about. I think that really helps support these internal marketers to have confidence and use a different language.

Internally, you likely will say the same phrases over and over and over again as you try to explain yourself and so when you have an external resource who can show you a different way to say it or a different way to prove that point, it gives you a different angle to help your internal team understand what it is.

Great example is this team that I've been working with for a very long time recently sent a marketing email that resulted in hundreds of phone calls and a response rate, an incredibly high response rate. The internal lending team and contact and support team wasn't expecting that kind of volume. They were like, hey, what's going on? What just happened? What did you do? In the past, that marketer would've maybe apologized or would've resulted in stalling the rest of the campaign or something like that. Instead, this marketer had the confidence now to say, I posted all the information on our internet, which is where we communicate that this is going to go out. It was available to you and our marketing email resulted in this great surge-

Meredith Olmstead:

Response rate, yeah.

Penny VanderBush:

This is really good and this is how we're marketing. Just the confidence that I know a year ago wouldn't have been there. A year ago, it would've been full of apologies and stop the campaign and we won't do that again. I think that that confidence comes from working with marketers who, a partner marketing agency like us where we can give them the confidence to say, yeah, that's your job. That's great. That's fantastic, that's what you're supposed to do and your internal teams are now going to pay attention and pay attention when you say you're going to send some campaigns and look at the materials that you have.

Yeah, I think growing, I think a growing confidence and helping internal teams communicate in a way that helps others understand is so much of what we do in our day to day as we work with our partners because we have that external outlook. Like you said, it's not about office politics or past feelings or anything personal, it's about doing a job.

Meredith Olmstead:

Yeah, it is nice though. It's really nice to see it. It's nice to see it happen over time. It's nice to see people feeling supported and growing and learning and so it's pretty cool.

Awesome. Well, thanks Penny. I'm really happy we were able to share this conversation with everybody. If you all are interested in watching any of our other podcasts, please visit figrow.com. We also have lots of other case studies and resources there for your bank, digital marketing, and sales consulting needs, banks and credit unions. We would love for you to visit us and reach out if you have any stories or questions. Otherwise, let's just get out there and make it happen.

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