Redefining marketing: The Opus Bank story

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Opus Bank video spotlightI’ve never heard about California’s Opus Bank, nor have I validated its success through first-hand research.  But this Forefront magazine story suggests a refreshingly different and potentially extremely effective marketing strategy, built on “touch points,” employee values and unscripted client testimonials.  In other words, this strategy is everything about the organic client/employee experience, empowerment, and direct validation –many of the often-expressed marketing mantras, but rarely expressed in real life.

The story quotes CEO Stephen H. Gordon about how he breaks marketplace conventions.

“When we sat down to look at it, we identified 140,000 touch points a month with our clients and prospects, including 45,000 ATM transactions and thousands of people who call the bank, read their bank statements and visit the website.”

“The most important touch point is personal contact with our clients,” Davis said. As a relationship-focused bank, our business is helping our clients grow their business. We don’t sell products, we sell solutions based on our clients’ plans for their business.

“We realized our clients could represent the power of partnership better than any advertisement.”

As a result, in April, Opus Bank launched “Opus Spotlight, an online video magazine starring clients in unscripted video testimonials.

Davis has been successful in building the bank from five branches and $460 in capital in 2010 to 55 branches, with $2 billion in assets, the article says.

Despite helping Washington Mutual go from having $30 billion in assets in 1995 to $300 billion in 2005 (the year Davis left), he does not tout his experience around the office.

Embracing what he calls the Betty Crocker School of Management, Davis encourages cohorts to add their perspective to the batch of possible solutions, just like the famous Betty Crocker’s out-the-box cake mix prompts users to add key ingredients.

“Betty could have put the egg in herself, but she left that for you to do so you would feel an important part of the process,” Davis said. “I always tell my team, ‘Make sure you leave room for other people’s ideas. As opposed to resisting new ideas, look for other points of view.’”

Do any of us have the courage to put all of the new-era marketing conventions (and reinventions) together in one business? Davis appears to have done that, and succeeded.

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