When Josh Fleming joined Bank Iowa as the Vice President of Marketing, he wanted to push the envelope and move away from a traditional approach to bank advertising. He reached out to LIFT, a company specializing in research-based customer and brand experience, for help.

“I would say bringing in an outside partner was the smartest thing we could have done because otherwise, it’s just a new marketing director saying we got to spend all this money here, here, and here.” Fleming explains. “I needed to know for myself where the best place to spend money was.”

LIFT’s brand awareness study of Bank Iowa surveyed customers in every county the company serves. The results were insightful. “The good news is the people that knew of Bank Iowa absolutely loved us, they thought we were trustworthy, loyal, skilled. The bad news was only 9% of the people in the counties we served knew who we were,” Fleming recalls.

This positioned the bank with a unique opportunity to build awareness through ongoing measuring and monitoring. Its media plans are specifically structured to promote the brand primarily through radio and television, with some traditional print advertising as well.

Fleming says when you’re trying to elevate the brand and measure it, “it has a domino effect because everybody at the bank knows that we’re trying to build brand awareness.” He adds the benefit of this approach is that it’s hard to argue with data. “If you have data to back up your assumptions in what you want to do, it makes it pretty easy to kind of give a head nod to move forward.”

The research LIFT provides has produced numbers that prove the marketing approach is effective. “It’s really hard to say that we ran this radio spot and 10 people opened accounts, we can’t really do that.” But that’s where the data comes in. Fleming can show brand awareness has increased somewhere between 15- 20% over the last five years. “We’ve been able to do that with a dedicated marketing plan, and data that shows this is actually working.”

Up to this point, Bank Iowa’s primary approach has been building brand awareness. Fleming says now that they have their message figured out, which was done through a lot of research and data collecting to get to a brand position, “it’s time to go a bit more granular”.

Fleming says they are looking at ways to move the needle more specifically. “To be able to say we’re going to run this digital campaign, we expect it to generate 110 accounts within the next three months. And here’s how we’re going to track it,” he explains.

Bank Iowa is based in Des Moines, Iowa, and serves some 40,000 customers.