Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 5 months ago

202) #ExponentialInsights - Asking the Question Behind Your Marketing Problem


Financial brands will often try to cure a hemorrhage in sales with a marketing bandage.

But my guest, Bo McDonald, the president and CEO of Your Marketing Co., believes that FIs are neglecting to dig deeper to discover the root of their problems.

He argues that fear and lack of commitment have made marketing teams a convenient scapegoat when times get tough - yet that is exactly when businesses should be pushing their brands.

Join us as we discuss:

- (6:24) Asking questions to determine why a marketing problem needs solving

- (9:30) Overcoming fear of failure through perspective

- (19:20) Discerning between passion and commitment to a call to action

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

You can find this interview and many more by subscribing to Banking on Digital Growth on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or here.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Banking on Digital Growth in your favorite podcast player.

Whenever we're in strategic planning or presenting a new idea there's resistance. It's usually just because there's not enough information to process that. Without the information, you can make a good decision. You're listening to banking on digital growth with James Robert Laigh, a podcast that empowers financial brand, marketing, sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential by generating ten times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series, where James Robert Lay interviews the industry's top marketing, sales and FINTECH leaders, sharing practical wisdom to exponentially elevate you and your team. Let's get into the show. Greetings and hello. I am James Robert Lay and welcome to episode two hundred and two of the banking on digital growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series and I'm excited to welcome Bo McDonald to the show. Bo is the president and CEO of Your Marketing Company, who found his creative voice literally behind the mic as a radio DJ and upstate New York. Both then use his unique view on the financial services world to create the go to firm for community financial brands looking to venture outside of their comfort zones and through a process of trial and error, bow founded your marketing company just over a decade ago and it has enjoyed continued growth ever since then. Welcome to the show, Boa. It is so good to share time e through today, Buddy. Finally, we've been talking about this forever and if, of course, our schedules are both of us are just crazy. So it's great to be here. It really is, and you know you've the last time that I think, we set down and had a really good conversation was in real life. It was two thousand and nineteen. It was early two thousand and nineteen, and you took me to dinner somewhere and I can't remember. It was a it was a great it was a great place. We were in Greenville, South Carolina, that's right, if we're there for a nephew conference, and I took you to one of the greatest restaurants in the city. So beast. That's right, it was great, man. We had good food, we had good wine, we had good conversation. And for the for the dear listener, you can't see Bo right now, but he has this beautiful wine library, wine lockers, whiskey lockers behind him. It's a beautiful view. So definitely looking forward to doing that again with you soon before we get into our conversation. And Really, I would say, more importantly, you're thinking what's good for you right now. Bo, personally, professionally, it is always your pick to get started. Joy. Joy. So every year I've we pick a word for for our team professionally, what what we're are? We going to live by this here and every year that were builds on what we've done in the past. But I do that for myself personally as...

...well, and this is the second time I've used that word in two thousand and nineteen there was a book I read that totally turn my life upside down. It's called a life through letters. MMM The the author is Ash Davis. He's actually the brother of a credit even board member that we do some work with, and in the book was letters that his dying father wrote to people, both alive not alive. Two things as he was dying, thoughts that he had about things he wished, things he wished he would have said, and it really turned my life around. To figure out I need to focus on joy. We're not here for a long time. So, personally and professionally, how do we obviously get rid of the garbage in our head and and enjoy this ride? You know you're in my will house of what I've been reading since about two thousand and nineteen, and I'm curious, like how much of this is Sarah Depitus, because I don't believe anymore like things happened by random chance. It's all kind of getting mixed together for a greater narrative that a lot of times we just can't see in the present moment. But you're speaking into some stoic wisdom and a Latin phrase, Memento Mori, means remember your death. So you mentioned books, reading books. I'm a big reader. We're actually going to be starting up another episode here on the podcast with Audrey called behind the cover, because we do read a lot of books here. I know you read a lot of books in your team. Team reads a lot of books. What's what have you been reading as of late? So you talk about stoicism. I get that email every day, daily stowing Ryan Holiday. I'm sure you're familiar with him. Egos the enemy is another book that really changed my leadership outlook and the way we were doing things, but, you know, finding joy in our team. I've done a lot of work on myself personally to loosen up, not take things so seriously. The world is not ending, and transfer that to my team. How can I encourage them to, you know, understand that not everything is a one one and how do we transfer that to our clients to so that our team can enjoy a better life and maybe they can use as well and stop the urgency and everything. You're right, there's such a tremendous opportunity to calm the chaos, and a lot of that begins by calming our mind. I'm writing about this and banking on change because it's so easy and I think we're going to see more and more of this. The world is going to get exponentially more confusing, it's going to get exponentially more complex, and a lot of it is because we're just seeing exponential change happening at a scale and a pace that almost no one of us have we really ever experienced. COVID was a preview of all of this and we have a we have a choice.

So this is choice. We can either react and when we react, where in a where in an ass so good place, or we can respawn proactively, and you mention you know, we don't want everything to always be a n one. We don't want everything to be an emergency. And you recently wrote an article about some of the challenges why marketing isn't working for financial brands, and one of the points that you made is we are in a reactive state. You know, financial brands don't, quote unquote, mind the gap, especially for those who are making these knee jerk reactions when it comes to marketing. What are you seeing on this front? When marketing? Are Those the powers that be who inform marketing what they need to do that are always in a state of chaos? There is one rule I always have before we embark on any project, before we throw ideas around, my rule is ask a freaking question. So you know, for example, if if we hear from a client where we need to grow loans, we're negative loan growth, go well, we could just get what our creative team, come up with a great idea and launch it, or we could go back to the client and say, let's pause for a moment, why aren't we growing loans? Hmm, what is the problem? We're trying to solve and it kind of goes back to another book I was reading and it talks about the the dog food company. You may've heard this story. They launched, their sales are good and then they go down, they fire the marketing people, new marketing people can be and they redo the packaging. Sounds quote for a little bit, and then they go down, they fire that marketing team. Bring it a bigger, more expensive marketing team. They say no, no, you need to have organic dog food. So they start calling it chunks of love and it's this new brand and the sal spike and then they go back down and in one office worker who has a dog had been buying it and stopped buying it and raised her hand and said, sir, the problem isn't the marketing or the packaging. The dogs don't like the taste of our food. HMM. And I just replicate that to credit unions and anyone we're working with and say what is the actual problem we're trying to solve before we even talk about marketing? Why aren't you growing loans? Why aren't you growing members? Why do you have negative net income? Let's look at that actual problem before we turn the marketing. Face it on and make your problem even bigger. Yeah, solve that and then let's go market the hell out of it. Yeah, you know, it's what's the problem behind the problem? And I think you know when people are in a reactive state, they are feeling a some sense of pain, they are feeling some sense of urgency and they're wanting to resolve that as quickly as possible. That's understandable, Um, but... the same time, are we really getting to the root cause? Are Are we just, you know, working on the surface level, putting a bandaid on a gaping wound that eventually is going to cause us to bleed out? You mentioned marketing teams getting turned over. The average CMO ten years, around two point two years, give or take more or less, and that creates a lot of fear to fear within a marketing team, fear within the organization. In your recent article around why financial brands struggle with marketing, you also noted fear and really financial brands being paralyzed by fear. What, what do you mean by this? Because I see, I actually see four fears and we're going to circle back to these four fears and dive a little bit deeper, but I want to get your take on this. I'm in interested to hear that because I was just about to say there's different levels of it. There's the fear of the CEO, fears the board. You know, I'm two or three years out from retirement. I don't want to rock the boat. These new ideas will let the next Guy Candle that. I just need to get through the next two or three years so that I can retire comfortably. And you know, if I make this decision, this bold decision, and it goes wrong, am I going to lose my job? Am I going to lose my retirement? There there's the fear on the marketing end of if I push back on my CEO, what's going to happen if I ask the wrong question, if I'm that person that raises their hand to the CEO and SIS, sir, the dogs don't like the taste of our food? Am I going to get fired for for speaking the truth? We were in an on boarding session with the client a few years ago and this is an example of that, getting rid of the fear and really dealing with the problem. They said we want to see ten percent loan growth next year. Cool, let's dive into your lending numbers right now. Oh, you you approved a hundred and eighty loan application last month, but you've funded eighty two of them. MMM, there's almost a hundred loans that you approved you didn't fund. That's a red flag. That's a problem. What it's taken us three or four days to give an answer on these loans. By then people are gone, they've gotten alone somewhere else. That's fastest things happen today, and that's one of those things that you know, no one in there was willing to talk about the actual problem. They wanted to bring it us, from a marketing standpoint, to bring them more loan applications, which is the wrong solution because we would just be making the problems even worse if we did our job, multiplying the pain once again, because they go from a hundred and eighty. Let's say you double that now that's three hundred and sixty, but then their pull through, their fulfillment rate, would still be that, you know, less than fifty percent. Let's fix that problem. You don't really have to do anything, quote unquote, at the top of the funnel and your life is going to be exponentially better and then once we fix that problem, then we can turn the faucet on and then wow, watch shout.

And I mentioned the four fears before and I like your perspective of it's the internal fear. CEO Fears the board, marketing fears the CEO. We don't want to rock the boat kind of a thing. And I frame this around really what I call the four fears. Number one, fear of the unknown. Number two, fear of change. That then leads to fear of failure and then there's this little wild card out there. If we can get through work through all three of those fears, then there's the fear of success, like, oh my goodness, what happens if this actually works? Can we sustain this type of pace? And each one of these fears can be addressed with with certain prescriptions. Fear of the unknown is typically what what we really try to dig into hear through our work and and that's that's training, that's education, that's to help provide clarity and awareness so that the future doesn't seem so scary and you start to calm the mind down and you flip fear into opportunity. Once you get a lot of STOIC wisdom probably percolating out of my head. When it comes to fear, what are you seeing as opportunities to help leadership teams, to help marketing teams, to help boards of directors tamper and calm the fear, because we can't do anything, can't move forward until we do that right gain perspective. That's whenever we're in strategic planning or presenting a new idea and there's resistance, it's usually just because there's not enough information to process that. Without the information, you can't make a good decision. One of my gps came to me and said, Hey, we've been all remote now for for almost a year. I think we need to bring all of our team together in one place and and I started doing what my clients do and I said no, no, that's too expensive. And I had to pause for a minute and I said, wait a minute, you haven't given me any numbers yet. HMM, how do I know this is too expensive? Right? I don't have any good data to make a decision on. Go Back, do your homework, tell me how much this is going to cost, and then I can tell you if it's too expensive or hut. And I see things like that all the time, where you just make a snap judgment, where you say we could never do that. Well, why? Why could we never do that? You're there's a book that we read as a team called limitless by Jim Quick and yes, about how you, you are the problem, in fact, that I've got a couple sessions coming up with the Maryland BC League and the New Mexico Pretty in association, and that's really what it is. Put a mirror up in front of yourself and see how you and your thoughts are limiting your organization. Just what one person saying no can can really hold an organization back. It is that one person that we see. If we could help provide them with clarity, if we can help provide them with awareness, we release the brakes in their...

...mind and then they begin to move forward as a team, as an organization. You know, looking out towards the future and I would say, first and foremost, looking back over the last twenty years as a digital anthropologists, studying the intersection of marketing and cells, technology and human behavior, the trends, the pattern something just in my gut tells me that we're in for a rocky couple years coming up, and I don't know if it's this year, I don't know if it's next year. And if we study the past, when things get tough, one of the very first things that gets cut is marketing, followed very closely by training and when, when we cut those two areas of the organization in tough times, we're literally cutting the future growth potential right out from underneath us. And why is this? Because you recently wrote an article titled Savior Credit Union from death by a thousand cuts, addressing some of these challenges here, and you mentioned, even in your own mind, the road block of we can't do this or we got to cut this here. But then it's like no, no, let's let's calm the mind, let's pause and let's like really think through this critically. Digital growth is a journey from good to great, but sometimes this journey can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming. The good news is you don't have to take this journey alone, because now you can join a community of growth minded marketing and sales leave years from financial brands and Fin Tex who are all learning, collaborating and growing together. Visit Digital growthcom slash insider to learn more about how you can join the digital growth insider community to maximize your future digital growth potential. Now back to the show. There was an article cash has about two or three years ago that did it actually work. At the beginning of Covid or, I said, if you cut your marketing right now for this thing, that seems horrible, but it's going to be temporary. At some point there's going to be an end to this. I think. I believe, HMM, if you go back a hundred years and you follow the Kellogg Versus Post Serial Story, and that's one example of there's example after example of this, and post was the big deal in the breakfast cereal category a hundred years ago during an issue, much like covid they cut their marketing and said we'll all be better cut back. We got to tighten the belt. Kellogg went all in and started spending more on marketing the post. Fast forward over a hundred years and that decision cost them being the market leader, where Kellogg took over just about five years after that from investing in a time when all of the or their competition started pulling back. And we've seen the same thing for our credit unions. Those that over the last two years didn't pull back, that they may not have increased, but they at least kept the course. They're they're coming out of this is big winners right now, and I can attest to that...

...personally because, you know, in May of two thousand and twenty, it was actually April of two thousand and twenty. Banking on digital growth was scheduled to be published with the pause button on that we published in May of two thousand and twenty, and then all the speaking opportunities in the events, they just disappeared literally overnight, and I was like, you know what, when life gives you a lemons, you don't make lemonade, you make a Limon Martini. It's a little bit easier to drink and a lot more fun. And I was like that's that's how, that's how, that's why we're doing this podcast today. I mean we're two hundred and two episodes in and we're doing it because of an opportunity that probably would that have presented itself otherwise. And I was like, we're going to plant the flag in the ground and we're not doing what episode a week? No, we're going to do two. I was actually going to go for three, and then I had someone to walk me off the Ledge and said do you know what you're getting yourself into? I said absolutely not. They're like, just do too. I said, okay, we'll do too, and it's been a consistent habit of commitment, continuous commitment, to get to two hundred and two episodes with you, and I'm so grateful to share the time with you and that idea of commitment. You know, if I think about banking on change now, book number two, I have a formulaic approach for growth and really exponential growth where individuals, teams, organizations are growing both personally and professionally at the same exact time. That's expanial growth. I think exponential growth is required to achieve digital growth or to achieve digital transformation, however you want to frame that. But if we look at courage and we look at commitment, awareness comes first. The A plus commitment that leads to transformation will growth on the other side. What does it take for an organization to continuously and courageously commit, with courage confidence, to keep marketing in tough times? What does it take? There's I'm going to be a politician. I'm not running for office, but I'm going to answer a different question and then come back. There's one thing I want to point out. You said you kept using the work commitment instead of passion. I hear a lot of people talk about their passions for something, but if you don't have the commitments with it, you don't see any action. You could love the credit union industry's I'm passionate about what I do and still not get any results. I see a lot of passionate people that, because of fear, they're not committed to that. But what I think what really drives that is to answer your original question, if I were to look at our top five best performing credit unions, it's their decisionmaking. They have a board who will embrace failure. They're okay to fail, they will try something new and the CEO is not afraid to go back to that board meeting and say this didn't work out. Fell fast, fell cheap, figured out,...

...move on. It's the boards that that are afraid of failure. But I think it all goes back to the board, and I can say this sitting is as the chair of the Board of my credit union, coming in and being the young whipper snapper and, you know, serving with people much, much older than me getting them comfortable with with change and being okay with failure and realizing it didn't really cost us anything. We had to try something new. What's the big deal? Let's let's just do it. Yeah, yeah, you know. I want to look ahead towards the future just a bit with you. What are you seeing from your perspective, from your vantage point, of big opportunities, opportunities that you can either create, create something new, capture something that you already have but might not realize it, or capitalize on something that you're doing really, really well, double down on that, do it, do it even better. What's what are the maybe one or two big opportunities that you're seeing through your work for the dear listener once again, to kind of maybe just put on that radar, bring some awareness to it's the best of times, it's the worst of times. I say that saying I've Gosh, I'm winem s is almost fifteen years old and as I look at some of the things we do, I'm always questioning, are we behind the Times in this? Are we just doing this because it's comfortable, it's the way we've always done it is what the client is asking for? Is it really what they need, or do we need to look forward and say we're we're going to stop doing this because it just doesn't make sense anymore and replace it with something else? So one of the exercises we went through last year was what if facebook went away? MMM, not saying we're going to get rid of facebook, but I feel like that's a crutch for a lot of not just financial institutions whatever. Well, we need a facebook page and we're just going to post on it. There's no plan of how are we going to curate this content, how are we going to engage with people? Right it's just facebook is free and we'll just post on it. And that was a great mindset from ten years ago. Certainly not the case today, but we haven't changed our mindset on what is facebook? How do we operate? How do we change how we're using it? Are there other platforms out there? I think that's the biggest thing, whether social media, email, traditional engagement, I think that's the future. Is How do we authentically engage with people to bring them into our culture and our brand, and that's really what we're looking at right now. What are we doing? How are we doing it? We call it educate engage, convert. Yeah, if we can get you the information and in an engaging way, you're going... come to us. Yeah, yeah, help first, sell second. Is One of the methodologies that I wrote to in banking on digital growth and this idea of education, this idea of training. You know, if we kind of come back into the leadership team, we come into the board level, what's an opportunity there to bring some just continued knowledge, continued education, continued awareness to these good people to help them see what they're not able to see, to provide some perspective, maybe even to provide some clarity and just to just open the mind up a bit. Where do you see the the training of the education piece at that level to help them overcome the fear of the unknown and the fear of change? First it's got to be the want to do it. You can lead the horse to water, but if there's not an open mind to hearing it or trying something new, the rest are you're going to waste your time and money. But I look at you know, when I came into my board meetings, we weren't talking about stuff outside of our credit. We're looking at the financials, talking about operations done we weren't going out saying what is happening in the industry? What should we be talking about? What should we be thinking ahead to? In an example, I just did a strategic planning this weekend and we set aside about two hours towards the very end to just talk marketing stuff. While we're there with them. There's one board member. This is our fourth year doing it and I love just messing with him because he does not embrace technology. He understands that the credit union needs to eat and he's not against it, but when we start showing, you know, what are we doing with digital marketing, with social media, how are we utilizing this data, he starts, you know, calling it Voodoo and how are you following people like this? You got to have an open mind to it, and he does. Yeah, he doesn't understand it, but I know so many board members who would look about and say not our credit union, we're not doing that. MMM and again it's that one person's mindset holding an entire organization back from success. Man, I can't tell you how many times I've seen that one person. And that could be at the board level, it could be at the senior leadership level, it could be even within a team, and that's where what I call the for transformations they it's almost they have to happen in a specific order. You have to transform the self to then transform the team, transform the team to then transform the organization, because organs are made up of teams, teams are made up of individuals, and when you begin to transform the organization, that's where you continue to transform lives and the communities that I financial brand is serving. And you know, we look out towards the future with with with hope. We look out towards the future with optimism. What's again, mindset, I think, is so big here. What are you feeling most hopeful and excited and energize about when you look out at the future of marketing for financial brands? I look at the number of mergers in credit unions and it...

...scares me a little bit. But then I look at some of the folks who have contacted us the last year and a half, CEOS that are new to their role. They're coming up from within the industry too, and I don't know if this is a trend or if this is just random happy luck to prospects we've spoken with it that I've just had really engaging conversations with their former board members there in their s or s they were on the board their business owners and the board hired them to become CEO. So they they have business knowledge outside of the Credit Union, the real world experienced, but they have that that passion for the Credit Union and now they're in the CEO role and they can marry these two things together. Yes, and and there's just the short time that they've been in that position, the decisions they've made, the direction they're taking their credit union. That makes me hopeful that there's there's a lot of young talent out there and these credit unions that aren't being merged away, that are going about the the succession planning a little bit differently with an open mind. Are are really those credit unions are really succeeding, just in the short time that they've been there. Yeah, you know, and I think that idea of succeeding there's really really for possible paths towards the future. You you can be thriving, which is, I think, where we all to be. You can be growing, which is good, not bad, it's good. You can be surviving and trying just to, you know, tread water. Keep your head above water, you know, to keep from from from getting sunk, or you could be dying. And a lot of this comes down to bring this full circle back to how we started. It's choice, it's the choices that we make in the present moment. And how are we making those choices? Are we making those choices in the present moment and formed by decisions of the past, or are we making those choices with a perspective of the future and what the future could be? Because, you know, I think a lot of times when we think about success, it's a great thing, but when we look at the financial services landscape, what got us to where we are today doesn't guarantee our success going forward to tomorrow. And so I want to get real practical as we wrap up our conversation, bow and and just like before, man, it's been this has been a lot of fun. I appreciate the thinking in the knowledge that you've shared in imparted with the dear listener. But but what do get real practical? Because all, all future growth, all transformational growth, starts with one simple step. Call it one percent growth, because if we can just be one percent better than what we were yesterday, we are making steps in the right direction. So what would be that one small, simple step that you'd...

...make for the dear listener? Maybe they're on the leadership team, maybe they're on a marketing team, maybe they're at a fintech working with with a leadership team, but what is one small, simple step, recommendation that you would recommend for the dear listener to empower them to maximize their future growth through strategic marketing? As you ask that, I have a hundred words going through my mind and I wanted to say accountability first, but I'm going to go with with confidence, meaning if you are leading your Credit Union, your organization, whatever it happens to be that you are leading, you've got to have confidence knowing that you are the right person to do it, you're there for a reason, and then you've got to take that confidence and go to her board and say I'm here because you trust me. If that's the case, I need you to give me some some leash, some rope to go do some different things. And and that's where I think you, as a leader, are going to find in mine the right place or my not the right place? Yep, because if you have the ability to grow and you're being held back, probably need to go somewhere else. But it's tough conversations because it's really all about trust. Does Your Board Trust you? If not, that that's a another conversation. But having the confidence really to understand where I can take this organization and how I'm going to get there and do I have the ability to do it? You know, one of my very first early episodes of the PODCAST, episode number four, is titled how to move forward with confidence and a post covid nineteen world. Because confidence, as I spoke two years ago, over two years ago now, confidence, like this virus, is contagious and you know, I think a lot of times people are looking for one to bring that level of confidence because it gives them hope, it gives them some excitement, some energy for them their confidence will continue to grow as well and and it really does sometimes just take some internal work to make that a reality. Some and you mentioned trust, and I want to get your take on this here, because before you talked about telling the truth. I say the three t's for transformative growth. They start with number one, telling the truth about where we've been, about where we're at, where we could go next. Number two, training to help provide clarity, to help the unaware become aware of opportunity. The number three thinking, just simply taking time to think, because I think it's so easy to bring this full circle once again, to react instead of respond. And me it comes down to root system. Living this out is is moving it to the cheer position. On my board you saw a CEO who had been there for years where the...

...board was pretty much running the credit union and the CEO was just managing the day. Today and when she retires, we have a new CEO. She was our CFO, so she was in the culture for about ten years. Now she's the CEO and she's really qualified to be a CEO and make these decisions. But there's that trust thing between the board and the CEO. Of but we've always made the decisions. How do how do we let this go? How do we change our decision making process? How do we change how and who is leading us? What does that look like? So it I think it comes down to the root system, what we know, what we're comfortable with, what our experiences have been and understanding US first and really trusting US first before we can trust someone else. Yeah, you got to trust yourself. To you know, and that all starts from within both. This has been a fantastic conversation. Always great to connect, dialog, discussed discourse with you. What is the best way for someone else to do the same? How can they connect and continue the discussion that we started here? I love it. I love these conversations. Doesn't everyone forget business development? I love just talking this kind of stuff. Another other leaders, bow at your marketing codecom is my email. I'm on twitter at why MC Bo. Would love to even a virtual happy hour. If I'm not going to be in your town. Let's let's connect over one of these things here behind me, even though you can't see it, then and just and just talk. Yeah, connect with Bou, learn from Bou, grab a drink with bow, even if it's digital, digitally digital happy hour and and, most importantly, continue to grow with bow. Until next time, man has always be well, do good and make your bed. Thank you for listening to another episode of banking on Digital Growth with James Robert Leigh. To get even more practical and prove an insights, along with coaching and guidance, visit digital growthcom slash insider to join a community of growth minded marketing and sales leaders from financial brands and Fintax. Until next time, be well and do good.

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