3 Tips to Deliver Different
A banking convention in Las Vegas?
Marketers from credit unions and banks at one event?
No planning committee or vendor committee when pulling together a conference?
All supposedly impossible.
But never tell Jeffry Pilcher, founder of The Financial Brand, that something can’t be done.
“That just makes me work harder to prove you wrong,” Pilcher said, jokingly.
The Financial Brand hosted its first forum in early April, and based on the reaction from some 418 financial executives from 14 countries, six continents, Pilcher’s nine months of planning paid off. He’s already working on the line up for next year’s marketing conference.
“I don’t believe any process has been improved by committee,” he said. “Let’s face it, banking or credit union trade associations would never be able to open their conferences to everyone. Regardless of bank or credit union politics, consumers don’t care and financial marketers have more in common than they think. There’s a lot they can learn from each other.”
Those are the same reasons he launched The Financial Brand in 2007 as a platform to share strategic insights, ideas and innovations geared toward financial marketing professionals. They served as the building blocks of the conference.
“The readers built the Forum based on what they’ve said for seven years they wanted to know, learn and where they need the most help,” Pilcher said.
As the rookie in the conference game, he shared three few tips on how to deliver on "different."
Read more: A new spin ...
1. Rethink Networking: Dine Around
Take a chance to be creative and shake things up a bit, with a purpose.
So marketers may not really be known for their shyness but who doesn’t feel that moment of apprehension walking into an event alone or figuring out what to do after the day’s sessions wrap up?
The guesswork was removed with a networking Dine Around. Here’s how it works. Attendees choose from a selection of restaurants with pre-arranged reservations for groups of 10. They then arrive at the restaurant at the appointed time and at the very least, talking about the food makes for the most natural of ice-breakers. In depth discussions about conference takeaways, sharing of successes and challenges at their respective organizations can then flow throughout the meal.
Read more: Leave them wanting more ...
Charter State Bank, with locations near college campuses across Georgia, Alabama and Florida, needed help with its Student Banking campaign.
With Gen Y as the target for many credit unions, the bank was selected to be part of a live marketing makeover courtesy of NewGround and its creative arm Adreneline.
The Challenge: There was no targeted product offering and focus groups revealed students were confused and thought they had to have a 4.0 GPA to get the student banking. Prior to the conference, Eduardo Alvarez, managing director of brand and retail strategy at New Ground, and Gina Bleedorn, executive director/brand at Adreniline, met with Charter Bank to determine its goals and needs.
The duo then unveiled two concepts live, in front of the client and attendees that were judged on the following criteria:
- Will it get attention?
- Does it work across channels?
- Is it experience-oriented?
- Does it support the brand?
- Will it compel action?
At the end of the session the client had to make a decision and attendees were encouraged to weigh in with their opinons, yet remained pretty evenly split between the two ideas.
Read more: Happiness or Revolution?
Pitch #1: Join the Revolution
Attendees challenged whether the bank had anything truly 'revolutionary' to offer or if it was just a cool campaign. The clients wondered how they'd pitch beer pong tournements to their boss, but loved that it tied into partnering with local businesses for member exclusives.
Attendees expressed concern about the Abercrombie & Fitch vibe but felt the overall campaign might be truer to the bank's brand. The client agreed and opted for Happiness over Revolution.
According to Pilcher, the thinking behind planning the live event as the final session on the last day was to provide an opportunity for attendees to apply everything learned during the two-day conference. It appealed to his goal-oriented affinity for education over gimmicks or the "cool factor." The debates and struggle over the selecting the final concept served as a true wrap-up experience.
"Aim for more instructive sessions," Pilcher said. "Don't just pick good speakers but those who know and like teaching others. Just because you are at the top of your field doesn't mean you are good at teaching and sharing your knowledge."
Read more: Deliver more value ...
3. Quality Over Quantity
Make every interaction value-packed
“You want to make sure you deliver fair value. Conferences are tough on exhibitors. They spend a lot of money and what do they get out of it,” Pilcher said. “Again it’s easier for me to cap the number of exhibitors to 18 for 400 attendees as a way to share more high quality conversations than it is for organizations with more overhead. But you want everyone to have interesting conversations all day long and that goes back to being 100% focused on content and the experience.”
Even without limiting the number of exhibitors, there are plenty of ways to deliver on value. An app made it easy for attendees to plan sessions and connect with each other while navigating their way through the hotel. Attendees walked away with a convenient flashdrive containing all presentation, workshop materials, templates, blueprints for financial marketing plans, online marketing checklists and the latest marketing trends report. In addition, they received 101 Fun Marketing Ideas for Banks & Credit Unions and a three-book set on bank and credit union marketing by Jay Kassing, founder of Marquis, a Texas based marketing solutions provider.
Onsite interviews delving into questions/challenges all financial marketers face like myths about Gen Y are being shared to fuel more discussions for possible solutions as a way to keep the conversations going long after the conference has wrapped up.