15 minutes with…Steve Slocum

IB: What sets your community bank’s marketing strategy apart from your competitors’?
Slocum: The marketing objective for our bank is to be the friendliest bank in our market, while being the bank whose employees are well-versed in answering a wide range of questions and concerns. The bank has an aggressive training program to accomplish this, and all bank employees are cross-trained in all departments.
We also do a lot of nontypical advertising and messaging. The bank is somewhat reluctant to eagerly accept the new technologies that seem counter to our traditional culture of building long-term relationships with our customers. While we offer online banking and mobile banking, we make sure to mention in every initial ad we place concerning these services that we do so somewhat reluctantly.

IB: What is your biggest marketing challenge?
Slocum: Without a doubt, the greatest challenge our bank faces in marketing is the advancement of technology that drives people away from our lobbies instead of bringing them in to further our banking relationships with them. There are weak opportunities to cross-sell other products and services to those who could benefit from them when they simply use our ATMs, mobile banking app and online banking. I’m afraid technology benefits the big box banks more than community banks if the consumer base is more interested in anonymous convenience than connective relationships.

IB: You previously had a career in radio broadcasting. How has this helped you in your current job?
Slocum: Having written copy and recorded it for hundreds of other businesses, advertising on the radio gave me a broad understanding of the business community. The most valuable lesson is that people don’t really like being advertised to if they can’t get emotionally connected at some level to the ad. When you understand how to craft advertising that connects with people on an emotional level, you connect far [more deeply] than the simple jargon of price and product. —Sara Schlueter