Ask An Expert

Sean Keathley discusses how to create connections through branch conversions

After a COVID slowdown in banking mergers and acquisitions, we’re now in the midst of a predicted resurgence of M&A activity. But it's once the deal is done, that the real work begins. In this Ask an Expert, Sean Keathley discusses converting branches to the new post-merger brand. With the exterior of the branch as your beacon and the interior as your experience, branch conversion is a rich opportunity to drive acquisition, deepen customer connections, and solidify and grow relationships. Learn the principles and practices in branch conversion that help banks master all the complexity.

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Outside View

Black grey and orange photo of the front of a Nike store entrance

How the beloved brand leverages a passion for people and a customer-centric mindset to revolutionize our breakfast bowls

“First and foremost, I just want to say that purpose-driven brands grow faster than non-purpose-driven brands… So, at the heart of everything we do is being authentic and true.” These words were not spoken by the CMO of Patagonia or Toms, known principally for their social advocacy, but by the leader of the breakfast foods brand. Yes, you heard that right – breakfast. And which brand immediately comes to mind when you think of the first meal of the day? Kellogg’s does, of course. With its growing stable of on-the-go nutritious foods, no one understands breakfast or consumers better than this beloved brand.

When recently interviewed by Business Insider’s Industry Voices, Kellogg’s chief brand officer Charisse Hughes spoke passionately about purpose and people at the heart of Kellogg’s. “I absolutely love this company,” she says. “In 2020, we reasserted and reaffirmed our purpose, which is all about providing a seat at the table for everyone.” Driving momentum behind their brands, Kellogg’s successfully leveraged a holistic consumer data program to build on consumer affinity. “We asked [consumers] what role does food play in their lives? How can we be more relevant culturally? And doing all of that through our K-way of inclusive marketing.”

How does that play out in the crowded and competitive world of consumer packaged goods? Just as in banking, it means providing relevant products at the point of need. For example, understanding that families have hectic and harried mornings, Kellogg’s has just introduced the first-ever Eggo waffles that don’t require a toaster or toppings. “Mornings are tough for families,” says Joe Beauprez, Marketing Director with Eggo. “We heard from parents that they often sacrifice their own needs, like skipping breakfast, in order to make sure their kids get a great start to the day.” After all, it’s the K-way.

For more information on inspirational brands and what banking can learn from them, stay tuned to Believe in Banking as it looks at influencers in related industries and tracks the big trends in financial services. For more banking best practices, see Adrenaline’s Insights channel for brand-to-branch approaches for financial institutions of all sizes or contact us at

For all of the challenges it presents to our daily lives, the pandemic has also provided some unexpected opportunities to think and work differently than before. “While so many things about banking have changed in recent years, social media continues to grow in its impact on prospects, customers and employees,” according to Independent Banker. “And that means it can be a challenge to keep up with the latest trends in social media marketing.” But one group has been meeting and greeting, crowdsourcing and sharing their smarts on the best ways for community banks to connect in our new environment.

Begun as a small and scrappy group in 2018, the Social Bankers has grown into an influential industry leader of bank marketing and social strategies in financial services. “The #SocialBankers started with a few bank marketers reaching out to each other with questions and sharing their knowledge,” according to the group’s website. Today, bank marketers across the country “learn from each other and keep up to date with our changing industry.” The group stays social savvy through daily check-ins, monthly video meetings, Twitter chats, and more. Providing a sounding board in a non-competitive environment is a cornerstone of the group.

“When we share information, we can make the industry better,” says Tim Martinson, one of the group’s founders. “We have everyone from people who are right out of college to people who are over 50,” he says. “There’s a diversity of geography, experience and opinions, which is especially important for the many of us who are a one-person or a very small department within our banks.” The group’s advice and experience often results in answers to questions at the speed of social. “Just today, I saw a posting from someone asking about gift cards for a quarterly giveaway, and she had replies within 10 minutes…”

So, what are some of their must-have social strategies for community financial institutions right now? The Social Bankers recommend:

  • Use newsletters to amplify your social content. In the era of social media, don’t overlook more traditional communication channels to make connections.
  • Diversity should show up in social. If your bank has DE&I policies, your social media should reflect those commitments and that culture.
  • Use social media for recruitment. What better window into your organization than social media? Influence new talent, early and often, through engaging posts.
  • Use internal subject matter experts. Collaborate with your own experts to develop content ideas. Teams in consumer-facing roles will have their finger on the pulse.

If you are interested the Social Bankers, join them on their social channels and follow #SocialBankers. For more information on programs to support banking, like the Social Bankers, stay tuned to Believe in Banking as it looks at industry inspiration in financial services. To learn more about developing targeted brand communication and social media strategies that drive engagement, deeper audience connections and business growth, email us at  

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Data You Can Use

0 %*
*Percentage of new-to-bank sales made in branches

The Story:

Bank branches continue to be the primary driver of new-to-bank sales, representing the dominant revenue channel for institutions and the primary way consumers open new accounts. Though digital account opening may be an easy-button for customers, trends data shows that for financial institutions, digital acquisition results in higher attrition rates and lower profitability than serving customers in bank branches.

The Takeaway:

For all the talk of branch channels disappearing, institutions know first-hand that the physical retail channel offers their biggest opportunity. “The long-running debate over whether branches are dead, dying… misses the key point,” says The Financial Brand. “No business – banking included – succeeds or fails because of delivery channel efficiency. It lives on sales.” And on that front, branch networks are far and away the “champs of retail banking.”

Sources: Celent, “Branch Transformation Research Poll” and The Financial Brand, “Digital Banking Has a Long Way to Go to Surpass Branch Sales,” October, 2022

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