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Bank marketing, sales management remain works in progress

Bank marketing and sales management disciplines have come a long way in the past decade. They’re better woven into broader strategic initiatives, with an increased emphasis on accountability. But they’re also a work in progress, as financial institutions throughout the nation refine marketing and sales-related organizational structures in an effort to maximize effectiveness.

Mississippi banks are no exception to this trend. This fall, Tupelo-based BancorpSouth announced the creation of a new retail management division, while Tupelo-based Renasant announced its marketing division would be housed in Nashville. Earlier this year, Jackson-based Trustmark’s corporate communications area, which included internal and external corporate communications, was expanded to include corporate contributions, public relations and community relations functions.

At BancorpSouth, the new retail management division led by Ty Warren in Tupelo has responsibility for the company’s sales management, retail product management and corporate marketing functions. The division also works with the company’s community banks and other lines of business in enterprise-wise client relationship initiatives. A primary goal of the division is to increase opportunities for retail client acquisition and retention, including the deepening of existing client relationships, according to Randy Burchfield, BancorpSouth senior vice president for marketing. The existing corporate marketing function reports to the retail management division and focuses on overall company brand management, with responsibilities for advertising, PR, media relations, corporate communications, sales promotions and retail merchandising.

“The new structure will allow for a greater management focus on the sales and product management functions with an emphasis on greater share of wallet for existing BancorpSouth clients,” Burchfield said. “This means reviewing our current cross-sell techniques, as well as our incentive programs.”

Another critical initiative will be to replace the company’s sales management and tracking system, according to Burchfield, which should, among other things, provide for a more efficient and results-oriented production accountability.

Burchfield said that increased emphasis also will be placed on ways to enhance the customer experience and relationship via new products and emerging banking channels, such as the bank’s new mobile phone banking, on-line account opening and remote capture services.

Given the vast number of products and providers available to clients, financial services marketers are challenged to differentiate themselves from the competition. Warren said that because the majority of his banking career has been in customer contact positions, he understands “the challenges, as well as the opportunities that our people face in the field.” “Even though our industry will continue to evolve,” Warren said, “we must be even more focused on keeping it simple and executing our plan.”

At Renasant, two key marketing executives were located in Nashville, and thus management deemed it logical to relocate the bank’s marketing division to “retain this talent as well as focusing our advertising on organic growth,” according to John Oxford, Renasant vice president for public relations. Recently, the Renasant board elected Lucile Houseworth as its new senior vice president and marketing director and Stratton Huggins as assistant vice president for advertising and marketing. Houseworth has more than 26 years of experience in marketing, retail administration and quality management, while Huggins résumé includes marketing and sales experience.

In noting the change, Oxford stated that technology opens the door for these types of arrangements and “makes it easy to communicate with employees no matter where they are located.”

Trustmark’s expansion of its corporate communications area follows other changes the company made a few years ago to separate corporate contributions/PR/community relations from corporate advertising, according to Melanie Morgan, Trustmark first vice president and director of corporate communications/board relations.

On the sales side, Trustmark developed a dedicated sales function several years ago, which includes regional sales managers with a dual reporting structure. Morgan noted that having structures in place that allow the marriage of corporate strategy and local market knowledge benefits customers by allowing the company to communicate and/or provide services in a manner that is best tailored to the customer’s needs.

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