If you’ve been lucky enough to experience first-hand what hyper-growth looks like in the banking industry, and more importantly, what makes it happen, you know it can be eye-opening. The difference between the relentless growth of fintech challengers compared to the slow growth of traditional financial institutions is striking.
The products fintechs offer has a lot to do with it of course — after all, the best marketing is a great product. But the marketing strategies and tactics fintechs use are a big part of it as well. Their brands create advocacy, their content breaks through, and they’re able to deliver better results in digital.
But the biggest difference between challenger marketing practices and traditional marketing practices is the culture within their teams. And what’s the most fascinating thing is there’s really nothing stopping any business, no matter how old or how big they are, from adopting these cultural principles to enable the same rates of growth.
Keeping that in mind, here are the three cultural principles that can enable any bank or credit union to grow faster
1. Be Fast, Not Perfect
Speed is the biggest advantage start-ups have over bigger, older institutions. They’re not slowed down by layers of approval, levels of bureaucracy, and fixed processes. They make decisions quickly, but they also don’t try to make everything perfect. They get things to “good enough” and get them out there in the world. Then they iterate as they go.
It’s the same approach start-ups take to product development — lean, agile, step-by-step, not trying to build the full, perfect product right away. And especially when it comes to marketing, perfection is usually a subjective opinion.
Your CMO might think that line of copy needs to change or that color should be different, but that’s just her opinion! The only opinion that really matters is that of the consumer. Get the content out there and see what they think about it. Plus, in the time it takes to get something from good to perfect, your team could do three other things.
Venmo, for example, has been on fire recently with the campaigns and activations they’re putting out. They’re doing things that aren’t big, elaborate ideas, but they’re doing them quickly and they’re having an impact.
Food for Thought:
Not every “big idea” has to be huge. It’s more important that financial institutions come up with new solutions — and try them out. Even one winning idea among 20 could make all the difference.
Now, some things do need to be perfect (and it’s important to know what those are), but most don’t.
If your marketing team is too focused on perfection, you’re not growing as fast as you could. Shift their perspective to prioritize speed not perfection.
2. Don’t Get Comfortable
The biggest risk in marketing in the world of 2021 isn’t doing the wrong thing, it’s doing something that doesn’t get noticed at all. There is SO much noise out there, so many distractions and demands on consumers’ attention. You have to think and act differently to stand out, which means pushing yourself and your team outside their comfort zone.
Start-ups do this naturally because that challenger mindset is part of who they are. They’re David taking on Goliath — they know they need to play the game differently to get noticed. But regardless of size or age, that’s exactly the attitude that any bank CMO or marketing leader should take with his team. Too many traditional marketers push for work and ideas that make them comfortable.
If you feel comfortable with the marketing you’re doing, you’re not growing as fast as you could. Get uncomfortable.
When I was in the agency world, I had a client who asked us to bring him at least one idea that would make him uncomfortable for every campaign. I loved that approach and it led to some of the best work we did together. You can always say no, and definitely do say no to anything that would piss off your customers (or the regulators). But push the boundary a bit and you’ll start to see more cut through, more engagement and more business results from your marketing.
3. Learn from Everything
Good marketing teams deliver results. Great marketing teams deliver results AND learnings that make future results even stronger. I know someone who worked in marketing at Amazon who said they insisted on having a “test and learn agenda” for every campaign they ran.
A “TLA” is a hypothesis that you want to test for that campaign, idea, or activation. You’re going to do the thing either way, but the TLA makes sure you have specific thing that you want to learn while you’re doing it.
What The Winners Are Doing:
Focus on learning as much as you focus on execution. This is something almost every start-up does very well, and very few traditional businesses do at all.
Maybe you want to see how a certain audience responds to a new message, or you want to AB test a few versions of your creative. Amazon isn’t exactly a start-up anymore, but they’re still delivering that start-up-like growth and I believe their culture of learning from everything is a big reason why.
How effective your marketing is right now matters less than how much and how quickly it’s learning to become more effective.
These three principles could have a huge impact on the growth of your financial brand and your business results if you implement them the right way. Culture change is hard, even in start-ups, and can be even harder in traditional businesses that have been around for a while. But it is the most important thing, the most impactful lever you can pull to drive growth. It’s also free! None of these changes requires budget to make.