Growth by the Numbers

By Stahl, David | Independent Banker, January 1999 | Go to article overview

Growth by the Numbers


Stahl, David, Independent Banker


Database marketing software gives Washington state bank a new secret weapon

For First Community Bank of Lacey, Wash., database marketing software offers more than cross-selling and sales opportunities. It also can be a management tool for planning strategic growth.

"We wanted a database marketing system not just for database mining," says Joseph Boyer, First Community Bank's vice president of marketing. "Database marketing is now much more sophisticated."

Community bankers are investing in database marketing software, often known as MCIF for marketing customer information files, to uncover untapped marketing opportunities hidden amid mountains of customer details. With these database-scouring applications, tidbits such as customer income, buying patterns and profitability become standard components of banks' marketing strategies. Sales prospecting becomes as easy as framing a question and punching a computer key.

First Community Bank, however, has fashioned its database marketing system into a growth tool as much as a sales generator. The bank began using a database marketing software system in 1994, just as it embarked on aggressive expansion efforts. Since then, the bank has tripled its branch network to 15 locations and more than quadrupled its asset size to $312 million.

Growing with Technology

While much of that robust growth spawned from four Wells Fargo Bank branch purchases and two bank acquisitions, the database marketing software played a significant role as well, Boyer says. By integrating customer files with demographic information, First Community Bank's database marketing software plays a big role in how the bank grows, he says.

Headquartered in a suburb of Washington's state capital of Olympia, First Community Bank began looking at buying a database marketing system five years ago to understand its burgeoning customer base better. Even community banks cannot know everything about their customers, Boyer admits. Besides, a customer database would assist in stimulating business and community growth, the former executive director of the Washington State Chamber of Commerce says.

After reviewing several software products, First Community Bank settled on purchasing a database marketing system from John H. Harland Co. of Decatur, Ga. Knowing that getting full use of a marketing database can become a full-time job, and because its marketing department juggles various time-consuming projects, the bank hired a marketing specialist.

Since receiving training from First Community Bank's software vendor, Melanie Bakala now concentrates on wringing the most advantages from the bank's database marketing system. She handles all of First Community Bank employees' database search requests, keeping customer information searches reliable and streamlined. She crunches all the numbers.

Boyer says First Community Bank initially tapped into database marketing software as a management tool in expanding its operations, such as locating new facilities or offering new products. …

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