One-to-One with Geezeo: Sarah Snell Cooke, Principal at Cooke Consulting Solutions

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in financial services and fintech about where the industry is headed, sometimes fascinating insights are revealed. One-to-One with Geezeo is an ongoing series that gives our friends, clients, and partners an opportunity to share their experiences and their knowledge to gain an idea of where this exciting industry is heading. In this installment, Amy Hibbard talked with Sarah Snell Cooke, Principal at Cooke Consulting Solutions about how the role of communications in financial services is changing and how data & technology are at the center of it all.

Geezeo: What are the greatest communications challenges financial institutions are facing today?

When players in the market range from trillion-dollar banks to credit unions of only hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not less, consumer awareness is key for community banks and credit unions. The trouble is communications and marketing, in general, are not treated at a strategic level. Very often the situation is, ‘We need more car loans. Have the pretty poster people whip something up.’ The outcome may be somewhat effective in the short term, but if community financial institutions took the time to discover their brand and effectively communicate it (supported with the right products and service) on an ongoing basis, everyone wouldn’t have to live in fire-drill mode.

So many executives believe they impose the brand on their companies, but it’s quite the opposite. If you’re seen as antiquated by consumers, that is your brand. If employees see executives as lackluster that will be reflected in the company’s brand. Perception is a reality, so discover your brand first. The underlying products and service (as directed by the consumers) must be solid to have a good story for marketers to do their jobs well. If you don’t like what you learn from your members, then change is imperative, but most people inherently are scared of the unknown and become petrified or unwilling to move forward.

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