Most financial brands are aware that digital is important, but they find themselves stuck in the Circle of Chaos. 

They are confused and unsure about where to start or what to do next. 

They may feel frustrated because they have dabbled in digital in some capacity, but they haven’t seen the results. 

Or they may feel overwhelmed because their plate is overloaded, and they need space and time to adopt new technologies and ways of thinking. 

Gaining clarity is the only way to escape the Circle of Chaos and complexity. And from my experience, most financial brands know they need to change, but they are afraid. Before any progress can be made, the Wall of Fear must be conquered.

The Wall of Fear

Financial brands are held back by four distinct fears keeping them from fully committing to their Digital Growth Journey. These are sometimes spoken openly, but more often than not, they are whispered in confidence.

  • Fear of the unknown: “I know digital is important for us, but what should we do next?”

Many financial brands would rather stay in the cave of complacency where it’s safe and warm. In order to leave and experience something new, courage is required.

  • Fear of change: “Why change now? We have had success up to this point”

Resisting change is simply human nature. With COVID-19, we are seeing how fast our behaviors can change. The good news is, adaptability can be taught. 

  • Fear of failure: What happens if we try this and fail? What will they think of me?

I’m willing to bet we have all been here before. Overcome this fear with quick wins and your confidence level will rise. Think progress, not perfection.

  • Fear of success: What happens if this actually works? Can we even support this new type of growth?”

Growth, at any level, requires some change along the way. 

Don’t let these fears hold you back from maximizing your financial brand’s future growth potential. Instead, overcome these fears to elevate and empower your team to move forward on the digital growth journey. 

The first step to gaining clarity is to take a step back and pause. In fact, Samantha Paxson shared on recent Banking on Digital Growth Podcast, now is the perfect time for “The Great Pause.” COVID-19 has given us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop and assess your financial brand’s strategy. 

Break the Cycle of “Doing”

From what I’ve seen, the vast majority of financial institutions are stuck “doing” digital. They get caught up in tasks and lack the time and space to work in other operating environments: learning, thinking, and reviewing. 


It is in these operating environments where we can answer pivotal questions along the digital growth journey:

  • What new insights are we learning and gaining? 
  • How are we applying these insights to develop new strategies, systems, and processes?
  • What must we commit to doing next as we apply these new strategies? 
  • What value did we create, and what were the greatest lessons we learned?

There’s nothing wrong with doing. If no one did anything, nothing would ever get done. 

However, the problem with always doing is that it’s all about the present moment, and the present moment is informed by the past. In our ever-evolving world, especially post-COVID-19, staying in the present is deadly. 

Once you’ve given yourself the time and space to gain clarity, where do you focus first? Get a quick win by putting your digital consumer journey at the heart of your marketing operations model.

Define the Modern Consumer Journey

In today’s buying journey, the consumer is in control. The way people shop and buy has changed forever. As financial brands, our job is to help facilitate the journey based on the unique situation of each individual consumer.

The consumer journey is no longer a simple point A to point B path. It is no longer as simple as a single television or print marketing ad driving consumers into the branch. 

Digital Growth Consume Journey

There are many different and unique paths that financial brands have to consider as they guide consumers along their individual buying journeys. Pull out the whiteboards and sticky notes and physically map out each consumer journey. Start with the end in mind and move backward. Identify the experience along each path. What systems and processes are in place? What does the technology look like? Marketing strategies can then be built around each stage, of each path, of the digital consumer journey.

If we don’t know where our consumers are coming from and what they are experiencing, then we won’t be able to empathize with what they’re feeling. And if we can’t empathize with our consumers, then we can’t guide them to success toward that bigger, better, brighter future.

One of the ways your financial brand can optimize the digital consumer journey experience is by creating a human connection and building trust through helpful content. 

Flip the Narrative...Be the Helpful Guide

The more you know your consumer, where they’re coming from, and how they are shopping for financial products, the better position you are in to understand their pain points and reduce their financial stresses.

But when we talk about our products, we risk narcissistic marketing. When financial brands get caught up talking about how great their products are, they’re positioning themselves as the hero, here to save you from your problems. 


But as we’ve studied the history of storytelling, there is only room for one hero in the story. 

So if financial brands take on the role of the perceived hero — how great they are — they actually take on the role of the antagonist or the villain in the consumer’s eyes. The consumer is the hero in their story. So take a step back and become a helpful guide. The profit will come when we help people to their bigger brighter future. 

Don’t let the Circle of Chaos hold you and your financial brand back from gaining clarity, building courage, and gaining confidence on your digital growth journey. Commit to spending time in each operating environment and celebrate the small wins as you work toward progress, not perfection.