Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 5 months ago

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


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 teamget executive buying to commit and focus our marketing and sells on aniche with the development of consumer personas. This is a very good questionmartin and one that I look forward to answering for you on today's episode ofBanking on Digital Growth. Mm Okay. Mhm. You're listening to Banking on digitalgrowth With James robert Lay a podcast that empowers financial brand marketing,sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential bygenerating 10 times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part ofthe Inside Digital Growth series where James robert shares, answers to some ofthe biggest digital marketing and sales questions he gets from the digitalgrowth community. Have a question you want to get answers to on a futureepisode, visit www dot go ask jr dot com to submit your question today. Nowlet'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 podcastwhere I James robert lay your digital anthropologists, commit to continue tocoach and guide you along your financial brands digital growth journeyas you commit to coach and guide people beyond the financial stress that'staking a toll on their health, their wellbeing, their relationships, guidethem towards a bigger, better, brighter future. Today's episode is part of the InsideDigital Growth series and I look forward to answering a question frommartin who's a VP of marketing for financial brand in the midwest. Beforewe get into it, I'd like to invite you the dear listener to be a guest on thispodcast and that's because we are launching clarity calls, clarity calls is going to be a newseries that is all about you, all about your questions, all aboutyour concerns. And it is a series that I look forward to doing together withyou who work at a financial brand, a bank, a credit union, even a fintech toprovide you with clarity and insights into your biggest digital marketingcells, leadership questions when it comes to generating even more loans anddeposits so you can constantly maximize your digital growth potential withincreased commitment, increased courage. We already have a good number of guestslined up that have submitted questions already and I look forward to bringingtheir conversations to you very soon. But I would love for you to join me fora clarity calls episode as well. So please do text your question to 83 to5495792 And then my team will get you scheduled to be a guest for an upcomingpodcast episode and we'll talk to your question together and you'll walk awaywith clarity. So let's get back to martin's question.As he asked, how can our marketing team get executive buying to commit andfocus our marketing and sells on a niche with the development of consumerpersonas. First off, martin, I'm really encouraged by your question becauseyou're thinking beyond the here and now. You're thinking beyond the presentmoment where so many financial brands, whether it be their marketing team,their cells team, their leadership team are trapped, trapped in the presentmoment with their heads down doing we talked a lot about a lot is gettingtrapped and stuck doing digital and...

...that's because they don't create spaceand time to pause to review to learn to think so they can do even better goingforward. I also want to provide some high level insights for you martinaround personas, but more importantly, some examples you can share with otherson 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 financialbrands make when it comes to persona specifically is they take the time, theeffort, the energy to develop personas and then never use them. They don't usethem in their marketing strategy, they don't use them in their productstrategy, they don't use them in their cell strategy. And so what happens isthe past predicts the future and they remain stuck in the status quo. Theyremain trapped in the cave of complacency. So let's look beyond thepersona today and really focus on how to apply personas and more importantly,how to frame the thinking of personas into other aspects and elements forfuture growth to create value. So to begin, you might be listening andthinking what's a persona, I've heard this term before, but what does it really mean? So at the Digital Growth Institute wedefine consumer personas as semi fictional representations of your idealaccount holder based upon two things Market research and real world data.And when we think about consumer personas and this idea that they are asemi fictional representation of your ideal account holder, A big mistake alot of financial brands make is they think that they're going to go intotheir 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 youhave enough data on who you would like your ideal account holder to be in thefuture? If if that ideal account holder is not who you currently are attractingor who you currently have today? Because right now the vast majority offinancial brands define their market segments for marketing strategy forcell strategies through demographic data, age, sex education, occupation,income, so forth, and so on. But this isn't good enough. You cannot connectemotionally, you cannot connect empathetically with a data set.Something that many financial brands are starting to slowly learn the roleof empathy, empathy, being a competitive advantage in a digitaleconomy. Now, When it comes to personas, our research has found that 68% offinancial brands have not created or defined consumer personas. And sowithout 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 andcommoditized market place, your promoting the same commoditizedproducts within the bloodied red waters, just trying to stay afloat, trying tosurvive in a sea of sameness. So, personas are really a key, a keyelement for a financial brands future... growth strategy. As personasprovide 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 weasked them who their ideal market segment, the response is typically18-65 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 broadgenerational market segments. There are specific audiences available to createor capture. And in today's post Covid Digital, First World, a financial brandthat tries to focus on everyone 18 to 65, 70 even tries to be all things toall people. If you're not one of the big global or national brands, you're going to struggle no longer canyou afford to even attempt through your marketing and self strategies to be allthings to all people, It's just not economically feasible. And I'm going totalk about why that is here in a moment. I am confident that financial brandswho find the courage to break free from the masses to escape the bloodiedwaters of the sea of sameness to move beyond legacy, thinking rooted in thepast and really those that focus on defining the food, the few whose thewho's of the few that they can create the greatest value for those will bethe ones that not only survive Over the next 5 to 10 years. These are gonna bethe ones that thrive, but don't just take my word for it. Uh I want toreference the author Seth Godin Here because he's been providing reallypractical perspective on the subject going all the way back to 2008 with hisbook tribes. And then he followed that book up in 2011 with, with another bookon the subject. We are all weird. And so what's a tribe and how do tribesplay in with personas and this idea of niche market segments? According toSeth a tribe is any group of people larger, small who are connected to oneanother? Maybe it's a leader, maybe it's an idea of belief, even a value oror a set of values. And for millions of years, humans have joined tribes,whether that be ethnic tribal political tribe, a religious tribe, even musicaltribes. His reference was Deadheads. Shout out to Ron Shevlin on that one.And, and, and so this thinking of tribes can be further applied tofinancial brands through the writing and thinking of Jeffrey, Kendall Ceo ofNimbus because he's been doing a lot of thinking and writing around the subjectof niche banking over the past year with articles published in Forbes andand Jeffrey provides some good news for financial brands. As he writes, quote Challengers do not own digital, thereis room for traditional banks in these...

...spaces. In fact, I'd argue traditionalbanks are better positioned to win with market expansion strategies than pureplay. Challenger banks end quote. I also want to quote Jeffrey here wherehe wrote specifically that the traditional community bank or creditunion mindset is to think about opportunity within a defined geography.However, the definition of what makes a community has evolved from a geographicterm to an identity or an affinity to a common cause, brand or goal. Technologyhas transformed our world and digital has changed the way consumers shop forand buy financial services forever. Now, consumers make purchase decisions longbefore they walk into a branch. If they walk into a branch at all, but yourfinancial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits, we get it. Digitalgrowth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming for any financialbrand, marketing and sales leader, but it doesn't have to because James robertwrote the book that guides you every step of the way along your digitalgrowth journey, visit www dot digital growth dot com to get a preview of hisbest selling book banking on digital growth. Or order a copy right now foryou and your team from Amazon, inside you'll find a strategic marketingmanifesto that was written to transform financial brands and it is packed fullof practical and proven insights you can start using today to confidentlygenerate 10 times more loans and deposits now back to the show. So Thethinking that Jeffrey shared earlier this year through his, his writing inForbes really closely aligns with that of what Seth was sharing through hiswriting 13 years ago. And Jeffrey and I have had multiple conversations on thispodcast and within some other fireside chat discussions about the subject ofniche banking and the role really that personas are going to play within thisconversation within this discussion within this thinking here and so I'dreally like for you, the dear listener to reflect on and think just for amoment about the future growth opportunities that are available herefor you for your financial brand. When it comes to personas, when it comes totargeting 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 areavailable for you to either create, capture or capitalize on, restricted bythe borders and the boundaries of your mind, what you believe, what you think, whatothers on your team think and believe what is possible. Be honest with yourself. Be truthful toyour team because all transformation that leads to future growth begins bytelling the truth to yourself first and foremost and then to your team. And ifyou're listening to this podcast right now thinking well, this idea ofpersonas and of focusing on a niche, we're just a small local communityfinancial brand. That's the point. That's the point. You cannot afford tocompete and go head to head and try to... all people through all differentdemographics and generations. If you're not a large national or global bank, itis just too expensive. You might be thinking that we could never growbeyond our physical borders and boundaries because we lack of aphysical branch footprint. Once again, I want you to really challenge yourthinking here because digital provide you with the capability to do just that and and to to do this. I want to makeit very practical with some some tangible proof. And let's look at BankMD. Bank M. D. Is a financial brand, a niche financial brand. That was startedby a little known bank. Trans Pecos financial base out of san Antonio texaswith a legacy dating back to 1924. Long story short Trans Pecos had only around195 million in assets when they launched Bank MD. They started thisprocess and 2018 and then they launched it In January of 2019 Bank MD. Being aNiche National Digital Banking Brand. So let's flash forward to March 2021.So this little known trans Pecos Financial based bank out of san AntonioOf San Antonio Texas with roots dating back to 1924. Let's flash forward toMarch of 2021 and see what that progress, what thatgrowth looked like for them. And while specific goals in numbers for Bank MDbrand are not public. A report from the financial brand dot com noted that theimpact of this digital niche banking strategy is clearly visible in theperformance of trans Pecos Bank. They're operating income which is now472 million in assets. And for the year in 2020, their net operating income was3.8 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 assetsgrew 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 MDSoperation and and he believes that they've really just scratched thesurface with the the future growth available for them to create, captureand capitalize on. So what does this success? What doesthis growth come down to? Three words, focus niche personas in other wordsthrough bank MD. Trans Pecos Bank focused on the niche of servingphysicians. And while physicians are focused on curing the pains of theirpatients, bank MD is focused on curing the financial pains of physicians. Andthere are other niche banks that have...

...found success as well. I encourage youto study them. One of them is aspiration aspiration dot com and theirwhole niche banking strategy is around saving the planet. Um There's alsoredneck bank and yes, that's a real bank whose parent bank is all Americabank out of Oklahoma. Then there's fitness bank whose parent bank isaffinity bank out of Atlanta Georgia. And and once again, there's a wholeother plethora of, of niche banking brands popping up, whether it be on theconsumer side or on the commercial small business side. And Fintech isgiving rise to a lot of these, these niche banks focus on specific nichepersonas. Let's look here just one more moment uh with another market segmentthat I see a tremendous amount of opportunity and growth and where moneycauses an extreme amount of stress and that is in couples and relationshipsand in this niche vertical there are brands like twine, there's a to there'shoney fi who are all focused on solving problems for niche personas. And it'simportant to note some of the stories behind the brands. Here you see. TwineTwine is a niche robo advisor and personal finance tool that was launchedby 125 year old brand, john Hancock who's looking to reinvent itself withniche market segments. Zeta, their co founder, Adi Shikhar, spent three yearstracking 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 whichwas rooted in human behavior led to tens of thousands of couples signing upfor a free budgeting app experiment that has now been transformed into aventure backed Fintech and and for Zeta, they're studying human behavior reallyeven more so couple behavior guided their thinking and development of thezeta experience. And it's important to make this point here because a focus ona niche market, a focus on a niche persona really helps a financial brandtruly learn their personas, biggest questions, their biggest concerns, thepains that they have and then develop products and experiences and marketingand 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 cofounder Aditi shared with Techcrunch quote. In some ways we see ourselves aspart of a replacement for Venmo. We saw couples Venmo going back and forth toeach other sometimes six times a day and we want to take over their moneychores. I know Venmo is causing a lot of pain,a lot of concerns for financial brand. So here's my question for you. Dearlistener is your financial brand taking a proactive stance to take overpeople's money chores? Or are you still in a reactive and passive statethinking about money and money management through a traditional lensof just checking account, debit card, credit card, Derek Sutton from autobooks and I discussed the idea of money chores or really what what what isframed as a job to be done? An episode # 94 through the lens of small businessbanking jobs to be done. Because when you start thinking about product andproduct experience and marketing and...

...sell strategy, uh huh. And and thinkingthrough the lens of jobs to be done through a human centered approach todesign and growth. Your perspective begins to change, Your thinking beginsto change and therefore you're doing will also transform as well Alex see onwho's the global consumer banking lead for Citi Ventures, D D 10 X program. Wetalked together on episode 109 about product optimization and that wouldalso be a great follow up listen, when it comes to applying consumer personainsights at your financial brand to optimize Your products and when I thinkabout Alex who co founded, moving with Brett King also against the podcastback in 2012, I can't help but connect them with Romney who was the Ceo andmoving and and Romney started up Honey Fi that was acquired by StrategicFinancial Solutions in March of 2021. And Honey Fi once again coming back tosolving the pain points of of of couples is just another great exampleof how targeting on a niche market segment on niche personas allows all ofthe thinking, all of the doing all of the content to be framed aroundspecific questions and concerns problems and then offer cures andsolutions to those pains to those problems. Now Romney is VP of budgetingproducts at firstly, firstly is another niche financial brand that I recommendputting on your radar to watch because firstly is also focused on solvingspecific problems and curing the pains for families stuck in what is known asthe sandwich generation. So think about that for a moment. What is yourfinancial brand doing to answer questions to solve problems, to easethe pain of the sandwich generation? The sandwich generation being definedas a generation of people typically in their thirties or forties, maybe evenfifties who are responsible for raising their Children while at the same timecaring for their aging parents, they're stuck in the middle like a sandwich. Because when you can get really clearinto who a specific niche market or niche persona is, you will have so muchdeeper understanding into their questions, concerns their pains andthen be able to develop products, strategy, marketing cells all tied backto 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 thatwe've talked about today with some of these examples that I really encourageyou to go and do some deeper research around, but just just introducing it toyou today, what opportunities might there be available for you to focus onwhen it comes to a niche persona? And and who would that niche persona be? Ifyou could pick a persona or a niche market, what would that market be? Whatproblems 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 thinkthe best thinking comes through our writing, even if it's just on a blankpiece of paper, because through a focus on niche market personas, you reallytruly can create entire new communities...

...communities that expand far beyond thephysical borders, the physical boundaries to solve problems for aniche group of people, For a niche group of personas. A challenge Iencourage you to break through to break free of the boundaries of your mindthat might be holding you back from maximizing your future growth potentialhere, boundaries that are preventing you from guiding even more peoplebeyond 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 upcomingclarity call conversation episodes where I am going to answer your biggestdigital marketing yourselves, your digital leadership questions. So textme now if you have a question that you'd like to get clarity to 83 to5495792 And I look forward to talking it with you on an upcoming episode verysoon. And remember, the only bad question is the question that goesunasked as always and until next time be well, do good and make your bed. Thank you for listening to anotherepisode of banking on digital growth with James robert. Ley. Like what youhear, 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 geteven more practical improvement insights, visit www dot digital growthdot com to grab a preview of James, roberts, best selling book banking ondigital growth. Or order a copy right now for you and your team from Amazoninside, you'll find a strategic marketing and sales blueprint framedaround 12 key areas of focus that empower you to confidently generate 10times more loans and deposits until next time, be well and do good.

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