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Thursday, January 15, 2015
Volume 20 | # 472
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You can overcome wrong technology. Your people have the initiative, they see the problem, no big deal. You can't overcome bad culture. You've gotta change whoever is in charge. » General James Mattis

Attention Must Be Paid (Or Not)

I read a comment on Twitter last week that made me smile. The tweet was, “If we can skip those online ads after 5 seconds, why don’t they just make a 5 second ad?”

It struck a nerve because I’ve found that I’m often so focused on clicking the “Skip Ad” button that I never actually find out what is being advertised in the first place.

Admit it. Most of us are staring at the countdown clock in the corner and waiting to click. Heck, the logo of the advertiser should be on that clock because that’s the only thing 95% of us are looking at anyway.

That “tweeter’s” comment was funny but also pretty telling. It reflects the fact that consumers’ attention is a precious resource.

We live in an “on demand” world and feel more entitled and enabled than ever to choose what we’ll give our attention to.

Our societal ADD may now be as high as it’s ever been, but that doesn’t mean that folks aren’t willing or able to give us a few moments of their day. But it must be on their terms.

They’ll decide whether or not you or your message is worth their attention.

Back before I ever gave much thought to that phenomenon, I preached the benefits of engaging customers in ways that made them smile. If you or your marketing can make someone smile, you know you’ve gotten their attention, at least for a moment.

And if the only things that come out of an interaction with a person today were that you are able to 1) establish or remind him of your existence and 2) leave him with a positive thought and/or smile… you’ve done a lot.

You’ve accomplished more than 99% of the marketing he or she will come in contact with today.

For many years, I’ve run into well-meaning, serious bankers who seemed to feel that light-hearted games, contests, handing out trinkets, or most non-sales interactions with customers are frivolous at best and counter-productive at worst.

But as technology now allows folks to shop for practically anything they want, anywhere they want, and anytime they want… many products and services, including ours, are becoming commodities.

The hurried customer who has been bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages today may not have had even one pleasant, entertaining, or engaging interaction.

That’s where opportunity exists to truly stand out.

Will you?

Gonna Be Here a While Yet

I recently read a story that listed the net changes (FDIC data) in the number of bank branches in the US. It highlighted the fact that there was a net reduction of 1,616 branches across the US in the 12 month period ending June 30, 2014.

For the five year period ending on that date, the total net loss in bank branches was 4,825.

Initially, those numbers seem ominous. The predictions of the pending disappearance of branches are coming true! Right?

Well…hold on.

For just a little perspective, over the past 10 years, there has been a net addition of 6,940 branches in the US. And while the reduction last year seems like a big number, it represents a 1.7% reduction of total bank branches. There are 94,725 branches operating today.

Yes, the trend of net branch reduction is now five years running. But that does not mean that folks presently working in bank branches have careers hitched to wagons heading over cliffs.

Will your individual organization close branches in the future? Yes, almost certainly.

Will it also open new ones? Yes, almost certainly.

Does anyone right now have absolute knowledge of what branch networks will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years? No, certainly not (even though some folks pretend).

Branches remain near or at the top of the list of factors customers consider when choosing a bank or credit union. Even folks who rarely step up to or into a branch want to know they have access to one.

But the future of branches will not be empty, aging buildings housing employees “standing by” in case customers walk in. The economics don’t work.

Future business models may be hard to predict… but it’s a safe bet that that will not be a viable one.

A point I make to branch bankers today is that their jobs may be evolving, but they will be more important than ever. Folks with the skills and work ethics to initiate and expand customer relationships wherever opportunities exist will be coveted.

Financial institutions have and will continue to make significant investments in branch facilities of varying designs and formats. Whether or not those investments will prove to be wise ones will hinge on the abilities of the teams running those branches.

The future is still about building relationships and is a bright one for the folks who remain focused on that fact.

Where will your focus be this week?

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. » Jim Rohn

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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