ICB Employees Dash for Deposits

By Kate Young

Do you know of any banks that are seeking deposits? Let’s rephrase that. Do you know of any banks that aren’t seeking deposits?

As interest rates rise and customers can suddenly factor deposit rates into where to park their money, there’s no shortage of methods for going after new deposits—promoting a rate, offering a package of free services, introducing a shiny new feature, to name just a few. And each of those methods may have dozens of variations, based on who you’re targeting and how you’re reaching them.

Ready for something different?

The recent deposit campaign staged by Investors Community Bank in Manitowoc, Wisc., took a whole different tack. It might make you think of an old-fashioned barn raising—with the entire community pitching in to pull off a massive undertaking. You might even call it C2C (i.e., community to community) marketing.

The folks at ICB called it their Deposit Dash. Over the course of a six-week drive, the bank assigned every employee, not just frontline staff, the responsibility of attracting new customer deposits by spreading the word about the bank, its values—and yes, its rates—across their circles of acquaintance. Just to make it interesting, the drive was framed as a team-based competition. The prize? It wasn’t cash bonuses or points toward a quota. It was bragging rights, a trophy, and a sumptuous lunch for the winning team. Plus, if the bank hit its reach goal, all employees would enjoy the ultimate bank-employee luxury: jeans on Friday for a month.

What makes this approach stand out is what ICB learned along the way. The drive had a positive impact not just on deposit-gathering, but on the surrounding community, the employees, and the bank’s culture.


“The race for deposits is on!”

We caught up with Laura Wiegert, ICB’s senior vice president of marketing and Matt Lemke, vice president of banking services, to find out how it all worked.

ABA: Where did you get the idea for the Deposit Dash?

Wiegert: Matt and I were brainstorming about different ways to bring in deposits. We use a lot of the traditional tactics—print and digital ads, etc.—but we decided to try a different concept. At our bank, we have a great group of employees who are very competitive, but in a fun way. This competitive spirit shows up across all areas—accounting, HR, marketing, sales, operations. For example, we’ve had competitions where departments across the bank were charged with coming up with a new marketing idea. When our wellness committee sponsors competitions for things like counting steps, or drinking water, we tend to get about three-quarters participation.

We thought we could tap into that competitiveness to drive deposits.

Lemke: We didn’t gauge individual participation in the Deposit Dash. Our branch network is composed of four brick-and-mortar locations that are nowhere near each other—they’re about an hour apart. So much of what they do tends to be siloed.

When deposit-gathering became a primary strategic focus for the bank, we saw that as an opportunity to pull everyone together toward one goal and tap into the competitive spirit. We had a single team for each branch—which each served a different market—and tried hard not to track down to the individual level. Any deposits that came in were credited to the entire team, to be celebrated by all parties within a particular market.

ABA: Was there a benefit to getting all employees involved, as opposed to just frontline staff with actual sales experience?

Lemke: Absolutely. For example, in one of our markets, we have an ag portfolio manager who’s always talking about rates. When she was at home over the weekend, she had the opportunity to share rate information with friends, and was able to generate deposit dollars for us. We celebrated that because that business line is central to our brand’s story. The four founders of ICB were entrepreneurial businessmen who did ag lending—that story resonates across the bank.

We think it’s the job of everyone in the organization to share the brand’s story. The Deposit Dash was an opportunity to get that message out to all of our employees. We pride ourselves on the story we have to tell—it differentiates us from the other banks out there.

Wiegert: Just to be clear, we don’t ask non-sales staff to do any selling. They make the contacts and then give the referral to the front line staff, who then take it from there to do the selling. There were no hoops to jump through, no strings. We’re simply leveraging our relationships and presence in the community. The campaign sets out to educate. And then we build on that by delivering a good community bank experience to the customer.

Lemke: The other important factor is that we’re a relationship bank. It’s a great tie-in to tap into the relationships that our employees have. The employees tell our story, talk us up, and then give the referral to the frontline staff. There’s no undue compliance risk because after the referral, the appropriate staff provides all the printed information with the required disclosures. All the stuff that normally has to happen is still happening.


ABA: Any advice for other banks thinking about doing something like this?

Wiegert: Make it fun. Each of our branches brainstormed and came up with its own team name. Then our marketing department designed a logo for each one—and created a race-themed tracker. At weekly meetings and via email, we gave reports on how each team was doing to keep them excited and engaged. We kept the information out there and kept dangling the incentives.

Lemke: Another piece of advice is to keep the timeline for the entire thing manageable. You don’t want it too short or too long. You want to make it long enough to work the referrals through the sales cycle. But if it’s too long, it can become cumbersome and lose momentum. Six weeks was a good amount of time.

Wiegert: If you have the right culture, then people get excited about the chance to contribute to a team effort. And the bulk of the organization wants to pitch in. Get people focused, excited, and engaged, then you’ll see the result.

Kate Young is the senior editor of ABABankMarketing.com. Email: [email protected]

A benefit to individual membership in the ABA Bank Marketing Network is the ability to converse through the ABA Bank Marketing Network Groupsite–a members-only discussion group. The thoughts expressed in this article reflect Groupsite responses to the question, “We have been doing internal branch [deposit]campaigns for years and want to try and do an all employee campaign. Has anyone accomplished this type of campaign with success?” Join in the discussion today.