When Purple is the New White – The Art of the Zag

Are you a bland commodity? IF so, you’re not going to get massive referrals and people talking about why you’re great.

In a seminar recently, I know many tables had ideas they wanted to share to an exercise I gave them. So, instead of asking who wanted to go first, I asked, “Whooo’s hot?”

Suddenly, everyone as on their feet.

What did they do? They yelled, they whistled, they cheered, they stomped their feet. And when they realized that every other table of ten was also yelling, whistling, cheering, and stomping, what do they do?

They yelled, whistled, cheered, and stomped louder.


The point of the exercise is to practice the fine art of commanding attention. We all know—or at least I hope we do—that the old marketing strategy of blending in with your competitors is long dead. Making your bank as much as possible like every other white-columned, green-visored bank may have worked in the 1950s, but it’s certain death in the 21st century.

So what’s the alternative to blending in? STANDING OUT! Seth Godin calls it the “purple cow” concept. See one white heifer and you’ve seen ’em all. But a purple cow—now there’s something to write […]

Seven Secrets to Catching the Hungriest Fish

A teacher read a story to her second grade class about a village of fishermen. “Take out a sheet of paper,” she said, “and I’d like you each to draw a picture of the lake and the fishermen from the story.”

The class began drawing big blue lakes with boats scattered across the water. As the teacher walked around, she noticed the work of one girl. Instead of scattering the boats across the water, the girl had drawn all of the boats clustered in one small cove of the lake.

“That’s interesting,” said the teacher. “But why are they all bunched together like that?”

The girl looked at the teacher with weary patience. “Because,” she said, “that’s where the fish are.”

Smart girl! She knows what many marketing professionals seem to forget: You don’t catch the most fish by fishing every square foot of the lake. You do it by figuring out where the fish are—and dropping anchor.

Here are three of the seven most effective secrets to finding and catching the hungriest fish—the customers who will add to your bottom line instead of nibbling from it:

  1. List ten markets by profit. Identify your highest-quality current customers—those […]

Banks miss mortgage opportunities more often than anthills have ants.

Do you have a “sales prevention department?

It happens every day, all day in almost every bank. The phone rings. A well-meaning staff person answers politely. The inquirer asks, “What are your mortgage rates?” to which the well meaning staff person begins to list the rates, thanks the caller for calling, and sends the shopper on to the next bank or mortgage company to get their mortgage. They make no attempt to help! Our research shows this happens over 95 percent of the time. Don’t believe it—call your own bank and see for yourself.

Two Problems:

One: The inquirer wasn’t helped because they didn’t receive any guidance and they’re left to shop with a high risk of not choosing the best mortgage option for their needs.

Two: The bank can’t win. Either you have the best rates in which case you lose profit margins or you don’t, in which case you lose the customer.

Is there another way? Absolutely…

What if you trained your people to engage the inquirer and help them see your bank as the one that helped them figure out the best options for them? The chance of doubling or tripling your inquiry conversions is almost […]

Win the Greatest Game Ever Played

Are you playing the wrong game?

One of my favorite movie lines of all time is from The Greatest Game Ever Played, a golf drama based on the true story of the 1913 US Open. Twenty-year-old Francis Ouimet was challenging his idol, Englishman Harry Vardon, who had won the Open in 1900. When Harry’s wealthy sponsor said Francis could not possibly win because he was not from the upper class and therefore would fold under the pressure, Harry responded, “If Mr. Ouimet wins tomorrow, it’s because he’s the best– because of who he is. Not who his father was, not how much money he’s got—because of WHO HE IS!”

And so it is with banking.

It has little to do with the economy, the market, the competition. It has much more to do with who you have become as a leader and who your team has developed to be.

The great competition isn’t “out there.” The great competition is always between the ears in the mind and the character of a leader.

Weak leaders don’t understand that, of course, because they are at the mercy of the external.

People forget that this is how it is with everything—we get […]

The Art of Superb Execution

Are you as good as you think you are? Whether the economy gets better or not is out of your control. But YOU getting better—that’s entirely in your control, and it’s non-negotiable.

As a leader, YOU set the standards. And this year, those standards had better be high and focused on the right things.

Organizations thrive because the leaders within those organizations thrive. After 25 years of working with many of the top-performing financial institutions in the country to take them to a higher level, it is clear that quality of leadership is the key performance indicator—regardless of what the economy dishes up.

Here’s an action plan to put on the desk of every one of your leadership team to raise the bar next year.

  • Seize the opportunity. With great challenges come great opportunities. Never before have the opportunities been greater. This will be the year of the great “pull ahead.” The financial institutions that will thrive in the future will make astronomical headway this year while their competitors remain stuck implementing yesterday’s agenda and focusing on “cost control.” What’s left to cut?
  • Leader, compare thyself! How do you do compared to competitors at hiring, attracting high-profit customers, […]