This is the second article in our Moneyball series. We recommended reading our previous post "Moneyball: The Digital Marketing Story for Banks and Credit Unions" for context.
As we explored in the previous article, the central conflict of the movie Moneyball is, ironically, about money.
Or the lack of it.
And the protagonist of the story, Billy Beane, has to figure out how the Oakland Athletics can remain competitive with teams that have much larger payrolls. Baseball juggernauts like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Teams that can afford those highly coveted baseball players.
And that leads us to the following scene.
Billy and the team’s scouts converge to discuss how they can overcome this problem.
Specifically, the issue at hand is figuring out how the Oakland A’s can replace their three star players, Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Jason Isringhausen, who were lost in free agency.
Or at least, that’s how the scouting team is looking at the problem.
How will they overcome this monster?
Watch and find out.
Now, let me stop the scene right there.
“He’s Got an Ugly Girlfriend”
As the scouts are chiming in on the different traits of their prospects, did you notice anything unusual?
Let’s look more closely as to how they evaluated a player named Geronimo.
“Clean cut, good face.”
“Good looking ballplayer.”
“Can he hit?” Billy interjects.
“He’s got a beautiful swing, right Barry?”
“The ball explodes off his bat.”
“He throws the club head at the ball, and when he connects, he drives it, it pops off the bat. You can hear it all over the ballpark.”
“A lot of pop coming off the bat.”
All of the scouts skirt around Billy’s question, addressing Geronimo’s swinging mechanics and intangibles.
A few moments later, the discussion moves onto a player named Perez. How do the scouts evaluate this player?
“He’s got a classic swing. It’s a real clean stroke.”
“He’s got an ugly girlfriend… an ugly girlfriend means no confidence.”
“He passes the eye candy test. He’s got the looks. He’s ready to play the part. He just needs to get some playing time.”
Observe a common pattern emerging?
The manner in which these scouts are evaluating these players is not based on quantifiable analysis. Instead, they rely upon intangible characteristics that “only baseball people understand.”
Intangibles like a player's good looks, type of swing, and his girlfriend’s appearance
But this process, this system is flawed, especially from the perspective of Billy.
The Flawed Digital Marketing System
Swinging the conversation back to the financial services industry (see what I did there?), the perspective of how most banks and credit unions view digital marketing success is similar to the scouting team.
And it’s a flawed outlook.
At its current state, we have found most financial institutions measure their digital marketing success based on vague statistics we consider to be vanity metrics. This superficial data includes page views, likes, shares, and follows.
In fact, one client shared a story that their board was so infatuated by Facebook "Likes," it became standard line item next to asset and loan growth.
While these vanity metrics might help a bank or credit union feel good, it's questionable whether these marketing activities actually provide value to the bottom line. This data provides little perspective on how their digital marketing is truly helping their bank or credit union grow.
In fact, we have found in our research that banks and credit unions do not even have a good understanding of the problem they are truly facing.
So What’s the Problem?
Back to Moneyball.
Instead of continuing to rely on this dysfunctional manner in player analysis, Billy pauses the meeting for a moment and ask his scouting team if they truly understand the problem.
Let’s continue the scene.
So what is the problem?
It’s not about replacing three key players.
It’s not about evaluating prospects to replace Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi, and Jason Isringhausen.
Then what is it?
“The problem we are trying to solve is that there are rich teams, and there are poor teams. Then there’s 50 feet of crap, and then there’s us.”
And Billy knocks on the table for emphasis. “We’ve got to think differently.”
Billy tries to simplify the problem even further, saying “If we try to play like the Yankees in here, we will lose to the Yankees out there.”
However, instead of gaining traction, Billy faces resistance.
There’s immediate push back from Grady, the lead scout, as he begins to rattle off the qualifications of the scouting team.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” Grady says.
Frustrated, Billy pushes himself away from the table, away from the old way of thinking and begins his quest for a solution.
What’s the Problem for Banks and Credit Unions?
In our experience when working with banks and credit unions over the last 15 years, we have seen a similar pattern manifest in the financial services industry, specifically when it comes to digital marketing.
Many times, banks and credit unions evaluate digital through a microscopic lens. In essence, these financial institutions are merely implementing the individual components of a much larger system.
As a result, we hear the same tactical requests repeated:
- “We need a new website.”
- “We need email marketing.”
- “We need a social strategy.”
- “We need online video.”
While it is true that each element is important for financial institutions’ digital marketing efforts, these components should not be simply checklist items found on an annual strategic plan. And this modular view of digital marketing does not address the ultimate problem that banks and credit unions face.
And this is the problem.
We believe most banks and credit unions do not understand how the digital business model works.
This is because the majority of financial institutions have built business models around physical branch and broadcast delivery. As a result, banks and credit unions struggle to make the shift to digital.
We found this to be the case for three reasons:
- They unknowingly use broadcast tactics and methods in digital marketing channels.
- They lack a unified digital marketing plan that provides focus and clarity for their team.
- They tell the same story as everyone else by promoting “great rates” and “service.”
But like the Oakland A’s and Billy Beane, not all hope is lost for your bank or credit union. And there is a solution on the horizon, a solution provided by a helpful guide with the protagonist’s best interest in mind.
"What's the Solution?" We explore how Billy Beane has to look outside the traditional industry solutions to overcome the challenges he faces as general manager of A's.