What is Edge Learning?

By Peg Hudson

An inside look at the ABA Bank Marketing School.

What is Edge learning? Picture a bank at a crossroads. After numerous ups and downs, and a bumpy economic recession, it has a new business strategy, a shrinking balance sheet, and an improved bottom line. Now, more than ever, it’s ripe for a powerful marketing strategy—one that’s integrated, holistic, and fully aligned with business goals. And that’s where you come in.

The bank I’m describing is called Edge Bank & Trust, and while its name is fictitious, its challenges and opportunities will feel incredibly real to attendees of the ABA Bank Marketing School, which takes place in Atlanta this spring. Students will spend the intensive program delving into Edge’s history and financials, as instructors use the case to bring the School’s curriculum to life. This is far more than a traditional case study. In a first-of-its-kind application to bank marketing coursework, the Edge situation will be the common thread that weaves the entire ABA Bank Marketing School together. Students will live and breathe the Edge story, using it to learn by doing—and to master core bank marketing skills.

The Edge action learning experience is the brainchild of the ABA Bank Marketing School Advisory Board, a group that I am honored to chair. As bank marketing practitioners—many of us past graduates of the School ourselves—it’s the Board’s job to ensure that the curriculum delivers value and relevance to attendees. So in shaping this year’s program, we set out to find a way to connect the nuts and bolts of bank marketing to the larger, ever-evolving picture. After all, marketing is finally getting due credit as an essential, strategic business function that drives a bank’s performance and profitability. Edge Bank & Trust is the perfect way to demonstrate that, helping attendees connect the dots and prove marketing’s value across business lines.

So what can attendees of the ABA Bank Marketing School expect?

A hands-on experience that is immersive, realistic, fun, and totally engaging. The minute you arrive, you’ll step into a new reality, taking on the role of Edge Bank’s chief marketing officer (CMO). You’ll be armed with background material, financials, and an annual report, which instructors will use to tell Edge’s story and teach core principles.

For instance, as the curriculum explores compliance, risk management, public relations, and reputation management, you’ll quickly discover that Edge has a clean slate on which to build a new brand. But it will need you to guide it forward with a research-based marketing plan and effective marketing leadership. You’ll examine the balance sheet and financial position of Edge, and explore how today’s marketing tools—such as social media, digital communications, and content marketing—should be applied to the bank’s challenges and opportunities. Perhaps best of all, the School will teach you to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of the marketing campaigns you design for Edge—an essential skill that will help you demonstrate the economic value of your own bank’s marketing programs once you return to real life.

As a former student and current representative to the Advisory Board, Jaime Faulkner, CFMP, sums up the experience nicely. “The Edge Bank approach helps students from different asset-sized banks learn and be able to apply marketing concepts to a single bank, using common language and scenarios, which in turn helps them better translate to their own bank.”

Indeed, the Edge experience will clearly demonstrate how holistic a bank marketing strategy must be. Everyone at the School will be working from a common baseline, viewing the curriculum through the lens of the Edge story. As a result, marketing practices and principles are sure to resonate with students like never before, no matter what their level of expertise.

So get ready to sharpen your Edge at our fictitious bank this April. How will you respond when things get real? And which best practices will you bring back to your institution?

Peg Hudson is executive vice president at American Trust & Savings Bank. Email: [email protected].