Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 1 year ago

115) #InsideDigitalGrowth: Consumer Personas - Obtaining Executive Buy-In on Niching

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Today, I’m tackling this listener question: How can our marketing team get executive buy-in to commit and focus our marketing and sales on a niche with the development of consumer personas?

In this solo episode, you’ll hear from me, James Robert Lay, CEO at Digital Growth Institute, about how to reimagine niches as defined not by geographical boundaries but mental ones.

In this episode we discuss:

- What personas are and how they create empathy

- Setting geography aside in favor of targeting niche beliefs

- Examples of successful financial brands built on niches that may surprise you

- What consumer personas and niches can do for you

Listen to these related episodes:

- Ep. 94. How to Best Serve the SMB Market with Embedded Fintech (with Derik Sutton)

- Ep. 109. Predicting FinTech & Strategies to Stay Relevant (with Alex Sion)

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.
 

...martin ask how can our marketing team get executive buying to commit and focus our marketing and sells on a niche with the development of consumer personas. This is a very good question martin and one that I look forward to answering for you on today's episode of Banking on Digital Growth. Mm Okay. Mhm. You're listening to Banking on digital growth With James robert Lay a podcast that empowers financial brand marketing, sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential by generating 10 times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part of the Inside Digital Growth series where James robert shares, answers to some of the biggest digital marketing and sales questions he gets from the digital growth community. Have a question you want to get answers to on a future episode, visit www dot go ask jr dot com to submit your question today. Now let's go Inside digital growth greetings and hello I am James robert, ley and welcome to the 115th episode of the Banking on Digital Growth podcast where I James robert lay your digital anthropologists, commit to continue to coach and guide you along your financial brands digital growth journey as you commit to coach and guide people beyond the financial stress that's taking a toll on their health, their wellbeing, their relationships, guide them towards a bigger, better, brighter future. Today's episode is part of the Inside Digital Growth series and I look forward to answering a question from martin who's a VP of marketing for financial brand in the midwest. Before we get into it, I'd like to invite you the dear listener to be a guest on this podcast and that's because we are launching clarity calls, clarity calls is going to be a new series that is all about you, all about your questions, all about your concerns. And it is a series that I look forward to doing together with you who work at a financial brand, a bank, a credit union, even a fintech to provide you with clarity and insights into your biggest digital marketing cells, leadership questions when it comes to generating even more loans and deposits so you can constantly maximize your digital growth potential with increased commitment, increased courage. We already have a good number of guests lined up that have submitted questions already and I look forward to bringing their conversations to you very soon. But I would love for you to join me for a clarity calls episode as well. So please do text your question to 83 to 5495792 And then my team will get you scheduled to be a guest for an upcoming podcast episode and we'll talk to your question together and you'll walk away with clarity. So let's get back to martin's question. As he asked, how can our marketing team get executive buying to commit and focus our marketing and sells on a niche with the development of consumer personas. First off, martin, I'm really encouraged by your question because you're thinking beyond the here and now. You're thinking beyond the present moment where so many financial brands, whether it be their marketing team, their cells team, their leadership team are trapped, trapped in the present moment with their heads down doing we talked a lot about a lot is getting trapped and stuck doing digital and...

...that's because they don't create space and time to pause to review to learn to think so they can do even better going forward. I also want to provide some high level insights for you martin around personas, but more importantly, some examples you can share with others on your executive team about how to apply personas to guide your thinking, which will then optimize you're doing because a big mistake I see financial brands make when it comes to persona specifically is they take the time, the effort, the energy to develop personas and then never use them. They don't use them in their marketing strategy, they don't use them in their product strategy, they don't use them in their cell strategy. And so what happens is the past predicts the future and they remain stuck in the status quo. They remain trapped in the cave of complacency. So let's look beyond the persona today and really focus on how to apply personas and more importantly, how to frame the thinking of personas into other aspects and elements for future growth to create value. So to begin, you might be listening and thinking what's a persona, I've heard this term before, but what does it really mean? So at the Digital Growth Institute we define consumer personas as semi fictional representations of your ideal account holder based upon two things Market research and real world data. And when we think about consumer personas and this idea that they are a semi fictional representation of your ideal account holder, A big mistake a lot of financial brands make is they think that they're going to go into their current data and identify their persona there and maybe that's the case. But once again, this should be a future focus exercise. Are are you, do you have enough data on who you would like your ideal account holder to be in the future? If if that ideal account holder is not who you currently are attracting or who you currently have today? Because right now the vast majority of financial brands define their market segments for marketing strategy for cell strategies through demographic data, age, sex education, occupation, income, so forth, and so on. But this isn't good enough. You cannot connect emotionally, you cannot connect empathetically with a data set. Something that many financial brands are starting to slowly learn the role of empathy, empathy, being a competitive advantage in a digital economy. Now, When it comes to personas, our research has found that 68% of financial brands have not created or defined consumer personas. And so without personas, there's no empathy without personas, there is no focus. And when you don't have focus, this leads to competing in a crowded and commoditized market place, your promoting the same commoditized products within the bloodied red waters, just trying to stay afloat, trying to survive in a sea of sameness. So, personas are really a key, a key element for a financial brands future...

...digital growth strategy. As personas provide two things. They provide focus and they provide clarity into the who, What I like to call, the few who uh financial brand will create value for. And I say the few who, because when we talk with a financial brand and we asked them who their ideal market segment, the response is typically 18-65 male female with money in their pocket. And and that's everyone, you know, that's, that's, that's gen z, that's the millennials, that's the exercise, that's the boomers. And even within those will call them high broad generational market segments. There are specific audiences available to create or capture. And in today's post Covid Digital, First World, a financial brand that tries to focus on everyone 18 to 65, 70 even tries to be all things to all people. If you're not one of the big global or national brands, you're going to struggle no longer can you afford to even attempt through your marketing and self strategies to be all things to all people, It's just not economically feasible. And I'm going to talk about why that is here in a moment. I am confident that financial brands who find the courage to break free from the masses to escape the bloodied waters of the sea of sameness to move beyond legacy, thinking rooted in the past and really those that focus on defining the food, the few whose the who's of the few that they can create the greatest value for those will be the ones that not only survive Over the next 5 to 10 years. These are gonna be the ones that thrive, but don't just take my word for it. Uh I want to reference the author Seth Godin Here because he's been providing really practical perspective on the subject going all the way back to 2008 with his book tribes. And then he followed that book up in 2011 with, with another book on the subject. We are all weird. And so what's a tribe and how do tribes play in with personas and this idea of niche market segments? According to Seth a tribe is any group of people larger, small who are connected to one another? Maybe it's a leader, maybe it's an idea of belief, even a value or or a set of values. And for millions of years, humans have joined tribes, whether that be ethnic tribal political tribe, a religious tribe, even musical tribes. His reference was Deadheads. Shout out to Ron Shevlin on that one. And, and, and so this thinking of tribes can be further applied to financial brands through the writing and thinking of Jeffrey, Kendall Ceo of Nimbus because he's been doing a lot of thinking and writing around the subject of niche banking over the past year with articles published in Forbes and and Jeffrey provides some good news for financial brands. As he writes, quote Challengers do not own digital, there is room for traditional banks in these...

...spaces. In fact, I'd argue traditional banks are better positioned to win with market expansion strategies than pure play. Challenger banks end quote. I also want to quote Jeffrey here where he wrote specifically that the traditional community bank or credit union mindset is to think about opportunity within a defined geography. However, the definition of what makes a community has evolved from a geographic term to an identity or an affinity to a common cause, brand or goal. Technology has transformed our world and digital has changed the way consumers shop for and buy financial services forever. Now, consumers make purchase decisions long before they walk into a branch. If they walk into a branch at all, but your financial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits, we get it. Digital growth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming for any financial brand, marketing and sales leader, but it doesn't have to because James robert wrote the book that guides you every step of the way along your digital growth journey, visit www dot digital growth dot com to get a preview of his best selling book banking on digital growth. Or order a copy right now for you and your team from Amazon, inside you'll find a strategic marketing manifesto that was written to transform financial brands and it is packed full of practical and proven insights you can start using today to confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits now back to the show. So The thinking that Jeffrey shared earlier this year through his, his writing in Forbes really closely aligns with that of what Seth was sharing through his writing 13 years ago. And Jeffrey and I have had multiple conversations on this podcast and within some other fireside chat discussions about the subject of niche banking and the role really that personas are going to play within this conversation within this discussion within this thinking here and so I'd really like for you, the dear listener to reflect on and think just for a moment about the future growth opportunities that are available here for you for your financial brand. When it comes to personas, when it comes to targeting and focusing on a niche. When you think about your future growth, is your growth opportunity restricted by physical borders and boundaries? Or are the growth opportunities that are available for you to either create, capture or capitalize on, restricted by the borders and the boundaries of your mind, what you believe, what you think, what others on your team think and believe what is possible. Be honest with yourself. Be truthful to your team because all transformation that leads to future growth begins by telling the truth to yourself first and foremost and then to your team. And if you're listening to this podcast right now thinking well, this idea of personas and of focusing on a niche, we're just a small local community financial brand. That's the point. That's the point. You cannot afford to compete and go head to head and try to...

...target all people through all different demographics and generations. If you're not a large national or global bank, it is just too expensive. You might be thinking that we could never grow beyond our physical borders and boundaries because we lack of a physical branch footprint. Once again, I want you to really challenge your thinking here because digital provide you with the capability to do just that and and to to do this. I want to make it very practical with some some tangible proof. And let's look at Bank MD. Bank M. D. Is a financial brand, a niche financial brand. That was started by a little known bank. Trans Pecos financial base out of san Antonio texas with a legacy dating back to 1924. Long story short Trans Pecos had only around 195 million in assets when they launched Bank MD. They started this process and 2018 and then they launched it In January of 2019 Bank MD. Being a Niche National Digital Banking Brand. So let's flash forward to March 2021. So this little known trans Pecos Financial based bank out of san Antonio Of San Antonio Texas with roots dating back to 1924. Let's flash forward to March of 2021 and see what that progress, what that growth looked like for them. And while specific goals in numbers for Bank MD brand are not public. A report from the financial brand dot com noted that the impact of this digital niche banking strategy is clearly visible in the performance of trans Pecos Bank. They're operating income which is now 472 million in assets. And for the year in 2020, their net operating income was 3.8 million And this was up 240% over the prior year At year. End 2019. Return on assets also went up from 0.6% To 1.3% during the same period. According to F. D. I. C. data. Coming back to the idea of assets. Bank assets grew 110% from year in 2018, Two Year End 2020. Now, according to bank MDS, founder and president, this growth was largely the result of bank MDS operation and and he believes that they've really just scratched the surface with the the future growth available for them to create, capture and capitalize on. So what does this success? What does this growth come down to? Three words, focus niche personas in other words through bank MD. Trans Pecos Bank focused on the niche of serving physicians. And while physicians are focused on curing the pains of their patients, bank MD is focused on curing the financial pains of physicians. And there are other niche banks that have...

...found success as well. I encourage you to study them. One of them is aspiration aspiration dot com and their whole niche banking strategy is around saving the planet. Um There's also redneck bank and yes, that's a real bank whose parent bank is all America bank out of Oklahoma. Then there's fitness bank whose parent bank is affinity bank out of Atlanta Georgia. And and once again, there's a whole other plethora of, of niche banking brands popping up, whether it be on the consumer side or on the commercial small business side. And Fintech is giving rise to a lot of these, these niche banks focus on specific niche personas. Let's look here just one more moment uh with another market segment that I see a tremendous amount of opportunity and growth and where money causes an extreme amount of stress and that is in couples and relationships and in this niche vertical there are brands like twine, there's a to there's honey fi who are all focused on solving problems for niche personas. And it's important to note some of the stories behind the brands. Here you see. Twine Twine is a niche robo advisor and personal finance tool that was launched by 125 year old brand, john Hancock who's looking to reinvent itself with niche market segments. Zeta, their co founder, Adi Shikhar, spent three years tracking how couples share and manage finances all the way down from you know, swiping a credit or debit card to how they split a bill. In her study which was rooted in human behavior led to tens of thousands of couples signing up for a free budgeting app experiment that has now been transformed into a venture backed Fintech and and for Zeta, they're studying human behavior really even more so couple behavior guided their thinking and development of the zeta experience. And it's important to make this point here because a focus on a niche market, a focus on a niche persona really helps a financial brand truly learn their personas, biggest questions, their biggest concerns, the pains that they have and then develop products and experiences and marketing and sell strategies that cure those pains that guide a person and the guy, the persona beyond the questions and concerns towards a bigger, better, brighter future. And when solving the pain points for couples, Zeta co founder Aditi shared with Techcrunch quote. In some ways we see ourselves as part of a replacement for Venmo. We saw couples Venmo going back and forth to each other sometimes six times a day and we want to take over their money chores. I know Venmo is causing a lot of pain, a lot of concerns for financial brand. So here's my question for you. Dear listener is your financial brand taking a proactive stance to take over people's money chores? Or are you still in a reactive and passive state thinking about money and money management through a traditional lens of just checking account, debit card, credit card, Derek Sutton from auto books and I discussed the idea of money chores or really what what what is framed as a job to be done? An episode # 94 through the lens of small business banking jobs to be done. Because when you start thinking about product and product experience and marketing and...

...sell strategy, uh huh. And and thinking through the lens of jobs to be done through a human centered approach to design and growth. Your perspective begins to change, Your thinking begins to change and therefore you're doing will also transform as well Alex see on who's the global consumer banking lead for Citi Ventures, D D 10 X program. We talked together on episode 109 about product optimization and that would also be a great follow up listen, when it comes to applying consumer persona insights at your financial brand to optimize Your products and when I think about Alex who co founded, moving with Brett King also against the podcast back in 2012, I can't help but connect them with Romney who was the Ceo and moving and and Romney started up Honey Fi that was acquired by Strategic Financial Solutions in March of 2021. And Honey Fi once again coming back to solving the pain points of of of couples is just another great example of how targeting on a niche market segment on niche personas allows all of the thinking, all of the doing all of the content to be framed around specific questions and concerns problems and then offer cures and solutions to those pains to those problems. Now Romney is VP of budgeting products at firstly, firstly is another niche financial brand that I recommend putting on your radar to watch because firstly is also focused on solving specific problems and curing the pains for families stuck in what is known as the sandwich generation. So think about that for a moment. What is your financial brand doing to answer questions to solve problems, to ease the pain of the sandwich generation? The sandwich generation being defined as a generation of people typically in their thirties or forties, maybe even fifties who are responsible for raising their Children while at the same time caring for their aging parents, they're stuck in the middle like a sandwich. Because when you can get really clear into who a specific niche market or niche persona is, you will have so much deeper understanding into their questions, concerns their pains and then be able to develop products, strategy, marketing cells all tied back to solving those pains to curing the pain to guiding them towards the future. So as we wrap up some questions to think about what opportunities that we've talked about today with some of these examples that I really encourage you to go and do some deeper research around, but just just introducing it to you today, what opportunities might there be available for you to focus on when it comes to a niche persona? And and who would that niche persona be? If you could pick a persona or a niche market, what would that market be? What problems might you be able to solve? What pains might you be able to cure? Take some time to think about this right about this because I really think the best thinking comes through our writing, even if it's just on a blank piece of paper, because through a focus on niche market personas, you really truly can create entire new communities...

...communities that expand far beyond the physical borders, the physical boundaries to solve problems for a niche group of people, For a niche group of personas. A challenge I encourage you to break through to break free of the boundaries of your mind that might be holding you back from maximizing your future growth potential here, boundaries that are preventing you from guiding even more people beyond their questions, concerns and towards their hopes and dreams. So if you have a question like martin, I'd love to hear from you. I'd love for you to join me for one of our upcoming clarity call conversation episodes where I am going to answer your biggest digital marketing yourselves, your digital leadership questions. So text me now if you have a question that you'd like to get clarity to 83 to 5495792 And I look forward to talking it with you on an upcoming episode very soon. And remember, the only bad question is the question that goes unasked as always and until next time be well, do good and make your bed. Thank you for listening to another episode of banking on digital growth with James robert. Ley. Like what you hear, tell a friend about the podcast and leave us a review on apple podcasts, google podcasts or Spotify and subscribe while you're there to get even more practical improvement insights, visit www dot digital growth dot com to grab a preview of James, roberts, best selling book banking on digital growth. Or order a copy right now for you and your team from Amazon inside, you'll find a strategic marketing and sales blueprint framed around 12 key areas of focus that empower you to confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits until next time, be well and do good.

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