Don’t let tech take your focus off what really matters.

If you’re anything like me and try to stay abreast of the latest bank marketing “happenings,” innovations, trends, etcetera, you’re probably just as tired as I am of reading about “digital transformation” and all that comes with it. You know, I get it.

I get that we in the banking community need to worry about cyberattacks; that the compliance landscape is changing every day; that we need to improve our “omnichannel customer experience;” that we’ll surely go out of business if we don’t figure of out how to compete with our digitally-savvy, loosely regulated nonbank competitors. And that is just the tip of the “innovate now or die” iceberg of threats that face financial institutions, especially smaller, local community banks.

Sure, tech innovations are hard. They’re also costly, time consuming, and disruptive. But, they’re also necessary. Finding the right tech partner and a solution that will solve at least some of the challenges banks now face is not easy. It’s certainly challenging to address a more demanding online customer, the growing threat of ransomware cyberattacks, costly data breaches, and building a “digital CX” that can compete with not just nonbanks and neobanks, but retailers, as well.  And how do you get everyone to agree on what your tech stack needs, especially when technologies, the marketplace, the regulatory requirements, and the threats to personal customer data are not only growing every day, but evolving, as well?

My point is this: Given all of the hullabaloo about digital transformation and all of above, it’s easy to lose sight of what I think is the big picture. I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “you cannot see the forest for the trees.” It means that a person or organization cannot see the big picture because the focus is too much on the details. I’m starting to think that, perhaps, we’re losing sight of the forest because we’re too focused on the trees. What is “the forest” here? For community banks, it is their brand, their reputation, their USP (Unique Selling Proposition, in marketing terms). The “trees” are the tech-driven “enhancements” we are told banks need to invest in in order to survive. The result? Community banks are forgetting that, at the end of the day, they are about community.

When it comes to leveraging that USP, in my mind no bank does it better than Citizens Bank of Edmond. Is this surprising to many (or frankly, any) of you? Probably not. Citizens Bank of Edmond has been on stage for quite a while now, due in no small part, as you know, to the leadership of Jill Castilla. This from the bank’s website and it’s absolutely true: “Under Jill's leadership, the one-branch community bank in an Oklahoma City suburb became a major player on the national stage and now sits alongside banking industry heavyweights.”

Now, I have no intention of diving deeply into what makes Citizens the community bank to emulate. There are probably a number of reasons and I’m not going to go into them here. What I do want to focus on is the bank’s “community-ness.”  Go to their website (click here), but please come back after your visit!  What do you see, first thing?  “Citizens Bank of Edmond Celebrates 120 Years of Serving the Edmond Community.”  Scroll down the home page and you’ll learn about the events that the bank supports, the community organizations, as well as the local businesses it supports. Ironically, and quite sensibly in my opinion, you actually need to do a bit of surfing around to learn about their products and services.

Now, I’m not suggesting that banks ignore their need to “transform” digitally. It needs to happen. But, with tech decisions being hard to make, and often — subsequently — taking a fair amount of time, banks should not lose sight of the transformation (if needed) that they can make right now.  And that is to take full advantage of what makes them unique… and valuable; their community-ness. Of course, we’re always here to help, with campaigns like this one that will remind your customers, and potential customers, that banking locally is what it’s all about.

About Bank Marketing Center 

Here at, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the thinking behind effective marketing communication — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. 

To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit  You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at  As always, I welcome your thoughts on the subject.