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Tell Your Company’s Story!

So what does storytelling have to do with your business? Everything! As a company in this social media age, you have an opportunity to draw devoted customers by rethinking the way you express your company’s core value. If you can’t properly convey a story then your products are not going to appeal to your audience. Research shows with all the advertising messages overwhelming us all that a story can cut through the noise. Your story needs to have a message that is a clear takeaway for your listeners. You want those that are reading the story to become emotionally invested in the story and to leave them longing for more. If you give too many details readers/customers get lost in the details and don’t find the emotional tie to the story.

As a business owner or marketer you need to have many stories in your toolkit. Stories about your leaders and their values. You need stories that bring your vision to life. Stories that pack the most punch are personal ones. Your real value is about what you believe in, what you’re trying to do in the world and how you make others’ lives better. These stories ring true! Use language that speaks from the heart. You can’t engage your customers using industry slang. Also post these stories/video’s on your “About Us” page on your website. This is an ideal place to start telling your story. Stories grab our attention, change minds and attitudes and inspire us. Well told stories make you trustworthy and encourage others to want to collaborate with you. Your delivery may not be perfect but no one is looking for perfection. Your customers are looking to be engaged, inspired and to be entertained. With that being said, what’s your story?


The Parable of the Pot Roast: A Cooking Lesson

As the Holiday Season begins, memories of family, friends, and long-standing traditions capture our thoughts.  Growing up in the South, cooking has always been a big part of any celebration. I am reminded of a story I once heard about a young mother teaching her daughter how to prepare a “Sunday roast.”  After chopping vegetables and seasoning the roast perfectly, the mother chopped the top third off the roast and discarded it.  The curious young daughter ask her mom the reason and she paused and responded, “I’m not sure.  Nana always did that – so I do too.”  Still not satisfied, the young girl went to Nana who offered the same response, “That is the way my mom (your Great-Grand) always did it.”  Still curious and determined to understand why anyone would waste a perfectly good part of the roast, the girl went to see Great-Grand for a “final answer.”  Great-Grand, now ninety-six, threw her head back and laughed, saying, “Are they really doing that?  I only did that because we had one roasting pan and the entire roast would not fit!”  This makes me think about how many times we repeat the same processes, behaviors, attitudes, or thoughts – without question – because that is the way things have always been done.

A couple of weeks ago, Amazon introduced a sweeping collection of new cloud computing services that lets you manage tremendous amounts of data without setting up your own expensive and expansive infrastructure.  While Amazon Web Services is less than ten years old, Deutsche Bank estimates its worth at $160 billion, more valuable than Intel!  Amazon did not get there by doing what has always been done – by cutting the end off of the roast.  They could have followed suit and bought infrastructure hardware, networking equipment, storage, processing power, data analytic tools, databases, etc. from the likes of Dell, EMC, Cisco, HP, and others.  However, Amazon, like other Internet giants Google and Facebook, had simply grown to such a large size … so it was simply too expensive.  So – what did they do?  They built their own solution – their own servers, their own storage, their own databases, and other software for managing information across all the hardware.  And then they did a truly remarkable thing … they shared it by offering the world’s largest cloud computing operation to many businesses to run their software and store their data.

They could have certainly kept “cutting the end off of the roast” – but instead, Amazon chose the more innovative and curious approach, asking “why not” and “why can’t we?”  As a result of this type of thinking, their stock has doubled in value in 2015, when the overall market – including technical companies – have been … well … flat.

So, as you develop your forward-looking strategies that will launch you into a new year and a promising future, be challenged to think beyond the typical and the “way it has always been done.”  Be innovative and don’t simply “cut the end off of the roast!”

How can music explain targeted marketing?

Targeting or understanding differences in your audience can help your FI in many ways. It helps you keep up with their ever changing life cycles, life stages, needs, socioeconomics, spending habits of your customers and so on. That, in turn, gives you insight into how to communicate, build relationships, aid in retention, meet their expectations and yes even how to market to them.

If you were a musician (and I’m a keyboard player and composer), you tailor your music and performance to your audience. You even pay attention to the order of the songs in a show, for the best response, which is known as the elusive “Set List”. That can even change based on audience reactions throughout the performance.

The best way to demonstrate this theory is as follows. Some people listen to country music, some to classical, some R & B, Blues, Rock, you name it…but you get the picture. It’s a diverse world. So as an entertainer, I always try to play the style they like. Hence, I’m targeting via their musical tastes. And if I didn’t, they won’t enjoy the show or come back again. That’s when my audience retention would go down and they would look for other talent. There you have it…proof of the importance and potency of targeting your message, services and of course your music.

Keeping this in mind, you can now focus on how to make messages relevant to your diverse base of account holders and to follow their changes over time. It also enlightens you on how to make your follow-up and touch points more relevant. Listen to your customer and utilize that information in your message, communications and delivery. Also, keep an eye on reactions to your message as your customer changes.

I actually do speaking engagements called “Keynote Concerts” for the Financial Industry making this point via my piano playing. So, you might want to consider that for your next conference. It can apply to management, customer service, selling and more. It’s not your typical session…Just saying! Contact me at desi@deeptarget.com for more info.

I Never Thought About It Until I Was Mugged!

I recently heard the term “frictionless” used to describe an experience that is simply integrated into a person’s daily life, one that we don’t have to plan for, train for, or go too far out of our way to use.  I associate frictionless experiences with worry-free, easy things to do.  As technology advances, online and mobile experiences are becoming more and more “frictionless” – but are they really free from worry?  We may think so – until we have reason to believe otherwise.  I mean, I never worried about using an ATM at night until that one time when, as a college student, I left the ATM only to have a scary dude stretch out his hand for my $20.  You better believe that I paid much more attention to my surroundings from that point forward!

It occurred to me that this is precisely what banks and credit unions are seeking:  a superior (frictionless) user experience that integrates with my daily life and is both secure and private. No scary dudes!  For the first time ever, mobile banking volume surpassed online banking in 2014.  Bank of America recently reported a 24% increase in weekly mobile check depositing over 2014 numbers.  And, Bloomberg Business reports that 52% of all consumers have accessed some form of mobile banking in the past 6 months.

Credit Unions and Banks will not compromise when it comes to security for their mobile and online banking – and they continue to make my environments safer with technologies like touch identification, fraud analytics, enhanced authentication practices, and future biometric-based security practices.  However, there are things that a responsible mobile banker can do to further ensure protection.  Just like I learned that it was not a good idea to go to an ATM at night and alone, there are things that we can learn to keep ourselves safe in the digital world.  Here are a few:

  1. Make sure your mobile device automatically locks after a short period of inactivity – and requires a password to unlock.
  2. Install a phone tracking app like Apple’s “Find My iPhone” or Google’s “Device Manager.”
  3. Don’t store your passwords on your phone.  Memorize them!  Always logout of your mobile banking applications and do not have your browser remember passwords.
  4. Secure your smartphone with anti-malware and ensure you keep the software current.  This is kind of like taking a friend to the ATM.
  5. Secure your connection on public hotspots.  Make sure the network is the actual one you intend to hop on.  It is easy to “name” a network.  Is Marriott_wifi or Hotel_wifi_guest the one supplied by your trusted hotel?   One could really be a “scary dude.”  Make sure you turn off sharing and protect your passwords and private information.
  6. Still review your bank statements – looking for any evidence of fraud.

While our banks and credit unions will continue to be uncompromising and trustworthy, it is also my responsibility to be smart in a digital world that contains some of the same lurking hazards as in my physical world.  With a little extra precaution, we can avoid those “scary dudes.”

The Future Looks Rosy Cloudy

A Short History

I’m about to sound as ancient as I realize I now am.

I remember quite clearly the highly strategic and separate “computer room” from my first job as a software programmer. Do you recall those specially air conditioned rooms for the monolith computers of yesteryear?

That then evolved into a “server room” in the client-server days of yore. This was further transformed into a “data center”. All this happened over a couple of decades or more of information technology going mainstream.

The Emergence of Cloud

How times have changed because today, we have all kinds of clouds to choose from…

The following is as good a definition of cloud computing as you will find anywhere – it’s basic and clear:

cloud computing


the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or personal computer.

What’s not clear from this definition is just how impactful and transformative cloud computing has been for information technology. If you are connected to the IT industry in any way, the modern verbiage you are using is actually Hybrid Cloud.
As its name suggests, hybrid cloud is an amalgamation. When a business uses hybrid cloud, all that means is that it is using computing resources that can be from any combination of public cloud (such as Amazon cloud services), private cloud (such as that owned solely by Company ABC) and its own internal data centers.

Hybrid Cloud is fast becoming the reality in organizations, large and small. And no industry is being left behind – including Financial Services, despite all of their unique security and privacy concerns.

The kinds of benefits that organizations are reaping include: flexibility, scalability, cost, and computing opacity for users (so they don’t have to care where the computing horsepower is coming from – they just consume it as they need it).  All of these serve to give a company significant business benefits and competitive advantages.

Cloud Computing for Financial Institutions

Banks and credit unions have been averse to using cloud-based services given their deep concerns for security and privacy.  The consequences of breached privacy or security are enormous, and sometimes earth-shattering for a financial institution.

Yet, despite these concerns, the benefits of a hybrid cloud have breached these defenses.

Now, even credit unions and banks have no choice but to figure out how to take advantage of the hybrid cloud. That’s because technology today has become such an integral and central part of the operations of any organization and it’s hard to ignore the immense benefits of using the cloud.

Ultimately, cloud computing enables speed, agility and innovation. With hybrid cloud (the new nomenclature used in the industry to describe how cloud computing is being deployed), we have entered a new era of elasticity in consuming computing power.

Yes, it’s Taking Off!

You can be sure that the Financial Services industry is not about to be left behind!  Here are some of the early areas where cloud computing is winning over banks and credit unions and the reasons why:

  1. Core banking for small to mid-size financial institutions because they are affordable, scalable and turnkey.
  2. Cloud-based human resources or human capital management systems because of the availability of complete HR/HCM cloud solutions from companies such as Oracle and SAP.
  3. 3rd party credit card and mobile processing systems – because these (such as from Visa and MasterCard) are moving to the cloud with the 3rd parties ensuring security and privacy.
  4. In-house application development and testing is being done on the cloud before moving to the internal production environment because it is more cost-effective and elastic. You pay only for the infrastructure that you use.
Last but not least, innovative cloud-based marketing and CRM solutions that integrate with other banking core or application software – because they offer 24×7 digital marketing and sales tools to increase income, customers and loyalty for banks and credit unions. These are filling a huge gap in sales and marketing at these financial institutions.

A Gartner report’s prediction says that by the year 2016 over 60% of financial institutions globally will be consuming and processing most transactions in the cloud.
So, brace yourselves, whether you work for a bank or a credit union, whether you are large or not, the future looks clear – it will be cloud-filled for you too.

Smart Marketing for Small Business

Most small Businesses struggle with marketing and NO budget.  Here are a few ideas for making the most of your marketing dollars.  First publish GREAT Content. Most people know how important the content is on your website and/or blog. Also, ask for participation from others on your staff especially if writing is not your forte.  There might be people in your office that are full of creative ideas (shall we say).

Create informational/instructional videos.  Often times, “We” (those in an industry) will take for  granted that “everyone knows how to do that” but often times that’s not true.  If you are a financial institution – you can have someone do a video on setting up a household budget or a 401k.  Now everyone should have a budget but too many people do not; as Dave Ramsey would say “tell your money where it should go instead of wondering where it went”. Informational videos are awesome and people love to share them, so they’re a great way to drive up referral traffic and you can share them on your website and social media.

Partner up with other small business to make a larger impact.  Co-branding or Cross Promoting has been around forever and it can be done in many ways.  For a financial institution it can highlight your community involvement and promote your commitment to other small businesses.  Cross promoting could be another business providing you with promotional items to act as give-a-way or prize for some contest. Or as I have seen recently in broadcast/video – showing a new building being erected with the small business owner and their financial institution representative standing side by side. There are all kinds of ways to co-brand/cross promote your businesses together.

Last but certainly NOT least Social Media.  Pew Research reports that 72% of the entire online adult population use social media. 82% of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Facebook, along with 79% of those ages 30 to 49, 64% of those ages 50 to 64 and 48% of those 65 and older. These numbers are just too large to ignore. Social Media is the electronic “Word of Mouth”. Social networking sites and blogs allow followers to “retweet” or “repost” comments. By repeating the message the promotion of a product or business begins.  Social media gives individuals and businesses the ability to interact with one another building a relationship and community on line. It gives customers the ability to express their feelings, ideas, and suggestions freely. It also gives a business the format to introduce new products and services and to get feedback. For a small business social media is probably the most powerful and cost effective tool available. What more can you ask from a marketing campaign but low cost, permanent access to your message and market wide reach…..And at the speed of online!

Go For It!

In a little over a month I’m going to try something that scares me just a little. I’ve signed up for a Spartan Race (www.spartan.com). A lot of groups have sprung up putting on races of this type. They have a lot of different flavors. Some are really dirty (get your mind out of the gutter, think dirt and mud), but some try to keep it clean. Some are all about the competition, and some are all about the teamwork. Some give you a list of obstacles you’ll face; some, like the race I’ll be running, don’t tell you what to expect—and they try to throw in new surprises every year.

Many of the racers I’ll race with will be pushed to the edge of their strength and endurance—and they’ll get really muddy in the process. There will be a number of obstacles, but they won’t tell us how many. I believe it will be more than 10, but less than 20. There will be heavy things to lift and sometimes carry, drag, or flip. There will be crawling and jumping and sliding. There will be hills and ropes and walls and contraptions to climb. And there will be mud, lots of mud. Oh, and to top it all off, at the end, we’ll have to jump over a blazing wall of fire and push our way through some gladiators with pugil sticks who are trying to keep us from the finish line.

You, like me, and my wife, are probably wondering what in the world possessed me when I made the choice several months ago to sign up for this.

There is no feeling in the world like overcoming a challenge. When you set a goal for yourself that is hard to achieve, and then really put your effort into that goal, and then achieve that goal … the feeling is exquisite. And when that accomplishment is a physical accomplishment, it comes with endorphins that really put you on top of the world.

I want to try something hard and I want that feeling that comes from not just trying, but succeeding.

Are you in a rut? Is your marketing or your product in a rut?

If so, find a worthy challenge, set a goal, and GO FOR IT!


OMNI-CHANNEL: Beyond the Hype

How it used to be; banking customers line up before Christmas, circa 1953.

Have you heard of Gartner’s hype cycle? The leading global IT research and advisory company creates hype cycles (shown below) for various technology segments to help clients discern what emerging technologies show promise at a particular point of time, and the opportunities and risks they present.

As part of an overall strategy, it’s easy to imagine CIOs evaluating certain emerging technologies – such as wearables or cloud computing or the Internet of Things, and their potential impact. They would look at their respective stages in the hype cycle to determine whether it is the right time for them to plan for and adopt these technologies, with goals as diverse as improving everyday operations and creating disruptive business innovations.

[FYI, you can click on this link to see the 2015 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies].

In general today, the more innovations and advances there are, the more pervasive technology is becoming in our everyday lives.

Needless to say, technology is playing a big part in providing the ultimate customer experience across multiple channels. When that experience is seamless across multiple touch points, it is widely referred to as omni-channel.

For a financial institution, when a customer visits a branch or conducts a banking transaction by telephone, online or from their mobile banking app, it is of paramount importance that they receive a smooth and seamless experience.

An omni-channel approach of engagement is not only crucial, it can be a big business differentiator.  We’re not quite there yet, are we? But, today, an increasing number of financial institutions have a focus to create an omni-channel strategy and provide that experience.

So, the question on the omni-channel investment if you are financial institution is not one of “if” but merely one of “when” (as when evaluating technologies in the Gartner Hype Cycle)–

  1. Should you make an early move?
  2. Is a moderate approach more appropriate for you?
  3. Or should you wait it out for a while until the technology matures further?

Beyond the hype, it will pay you forward to have an investment strategy around omni-channel. And sooner or later, it will be necessary – not just to be successful, but even for survival.

I can give it to you in writing here, an omni-channel experience for a customer is much more than a fad. Measurable and positive returns are guaranteed. So, this investment can neither be ignored nor taken lightly.

It’s All in the Data

Experience is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Like right now, I’m experienced enough to know that in a week or so, I will be feeling a swirl of emotions; everything from extremely proud to downright sorrowful as I drop my second child off at college. How do I know I will feel these things? Well, two years ago at this time of year, I dropped my first child off at college; and I cried all the way through Wyoming and half of Colorado afterward. It doesn’t help that my children keep picking universities that are 1800 miles away from me.

So, what does any of this have to do with marketing? Maybe you’re thinking this is the stuff Hallmark commercials are made of. And while that’s true, I was thinking more along the lines of my bank. You see, my bank knows me and my situation. Starting at the beginning of this year, my bank has sent me several nice little reminders that perhaps I may want to look at their student loan options. They also made it easy for me to set up accounts for both of my daughters that are tied to mine, giving me an easy way to make sure they are taken care of, even though they are miles away from me. And, as an added bonus, they have a branch located on campus.

With the way banking is nowadays, you may never physically see your customer or member, but it still doesn’t mean you can’t know them. Data is a beautiful thing. Use it to your advantage to zero in on what your customers really need and/or want. They will love you for it. Because, don’t we all get tired of seeing the same old ads over and over again for products we will never buy or use?

So, save your customers some tears, whether it be literally or figuratively, and get to know them. It’s all in the data, I promise.

Know Me or No Me!

Traveling with my eighteen-year-old daughter is a rejuvenating experience. I always end up feeling like I am surrounded by her personal team of trusted advisors. It was no different on a recent trip to the Charlotte area. For dinner, Urbanspoon led the way to the best local Thai cuisine. TripAdvisor and Citysearch pointed us to Knights baseball, a Segway tour (people actually do this), and Young Frankenstein. Would I have really ever found myself rafting down class III rapids and getting the adrenaline rush of the 40-foot hawk jump without the trusted reviews of the U.S. National Whitewater Center by hundreds of my Google cohorts? Most probably not! And then there was Rachel, my daughter’s friend who directed us to the luxurious SouthPark Mall, upon seeing our Instagram location. We were not alone in our adventures – and it felt good. It felt safe.

It is no different with personal banking. I want a financial institution that knows me and makes me feel like they are looking out for me. This same week, the buzz in the Charlotte area was the continued disappearance of Bank of America branches. As I was talking about this, my daughter offered that this makes sense – and that she had only ever been in a branch once, a trip with me to deposit a thousand quarters collected at a St. Jude fundraiser. As I watched her snap a photo of a babysitting check she discovered hidden away in her purse and effortlessly deposit it the same way Bank of America customers do over 200,000 times a day, it occurred to me that the expectation, certainly by my daughter and many of us older guys as well, is that our banking experience should be that same experience we have grown to enjoy in so many other aspects of our life – that self-service (I’m-in-control-of-my-time) experience with a little nudging toward products and services that are a good fit because you know me – the way a good friend, or at least a trusted advisor, knows me. To earn continued customer loyalty, banks and credit unions are challenged to really get to know me – my circumstances, preferences, and tendencies – in order to provide the experience I expect. The simple evolving truth – Know me or no me!