Tim Marshall is the president and CEO of Bank of Ann Arbor, and he is also the current chair of SPARK’s board of directors. Tim sat down with Paul Krutko to discuss the economy of the region, Bank of Ann Arbor, and the direction he wants to lead SPARK in. They even touch on those clever Bank of Ann Arbor billboards that dot Ann Arbor.
Paul: One of the things that we were intrigued about is that you’ve been really innovative in terms of using social media and sort of “Marketing 2.0 strategies.” We were particularly intrigued by the sweet fifteen local charity drive. It had 16,000 Facebook likes on it. We also like the really innovative ad campaign. We’ve noticed the billboards are very clever. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Tim: To start with, on the actual campaign that we utilize, I think one of our objectives has been to try to fight through the large amount of advertising clutter that’s out there facing all of us on a daily basis, so our brand that we’ve developed has been one to initially start with the color, when we went through this process. It was this green color that we thought we could replicate and we could really push out as a branding color for Bank of Ann Arbor. So one, you see one of those boards or advertisements, you say, hey that’s the Bank of Ann Arbor. The second thing is what type of organization are we? What’s our core competency? Through this branding process, it came through loud and clear to our customers, our prospective customers, our centers of influence and all of the people who were touched in this branding evaluation, that we are a truly altruistic company. That’s when you look at our tagline and our logo, it’s “Bank of Ann Arbor helps.” We just drive home this helping, helping, helping. We think it dovetails very nicely with what people perceive our institution is in terms of altruism. So that’s a little bit of the background on where we came to have these campaigns, and we’ve morphed. This is our third campaign, which is our “non-local banks think” campaign. It’s clever, and it’s humorous. We get all kinds of comments that it makes people laugh. The most gratifying thing is, it’s making people notice.
Paul: That’s fantastic. One of the things I wanted to talk to you about is a particular area that Bank of Ann Arbor has significant expertise in. It’s important in terms of the economy in the region what we’re focusing on here at SPARK and, that’s the practice that you have in technology and life science banking. The bank has really developed a strong expertise in that; connect to companies, connecting to VCs, connecting to a variety of people engaged in that in what is a very important part of our economy. Can you talk about that and what’s involved strategically in the bank?
Tim: That’s a great question, Paul. It speaks a little bit to the entrepreneurial spirit of the bank, and this is a very entrepreneurial community. If you want to be kind of an old-style bank and not really have an initiative in this entrepreneurial space, then that’s exactly what you’re going to have, an old-style bank. Similar to social media, my fear would be that you’re going to lose opportunity for growth that’s going to be more prevalent in the future than maybe it was three or four years ago.
What I have found is to run a successful entrepreneurial company, it takes great people and not average people, not people that can fog the mirror. It’s great people and we’ve been so fortunate in our ability to attract great people to our bank. The tech and life sciences banking group is a great example of that.