In a recent post on LinkedIn, Metro Bank's first ever Brand and Marketing Director, Jessica Myers, shared her experience and key learnings from her first 12 months at the company.
Last week marked my one-year anniversary at Metro Bank, and it’s safe to say that this has been nothing short of a completely extraordinary experience, for so many reasons.
Last November, I joined Metro Bank as the first ever Brand and Marketing Director, responsible for building the marketing function almost from scratch. After just four months, I found myself promoted to the bank’s Executive Committee and reporting to the CEO. In the very same week the UK went into lockdown, facing the great unknown that was covid-19.
I’d be lying if I said that at that very moment I wasn’t a little daunted. But even more so, I was excited by the opportunity to channel my experience, and find ways to navigate through this. Eight months on, I’m looking back at just how far we’ve come, the role I’ve played in supporting the bank’s journey, and how much I’ve learnt as a leader.
Leading the Brand and Marketing function over the last 12 months can be broadly split into four chapters:
Developing the team: When I joined Metro Bank, I inherited a small band of customer content and communications professionals. Over the course of the year we’ve transformed into a high performing marketing team, and evolved to become a business partner who understands customers, builds meaningful interactions, and makes our brand promise undeniable and shareable – and ultimately, grows the business. This hasn’t come without its challenges. Building a new team virtually during a pandemic is quite an experience, especially when we’ve more than doubled in size and significantly increased our remit. Plus, it means most of the team have yet to meet their colleagues face to face. So I was incredibly proud when I saw how overwhelmingly strong our culture scores were in the latest colleague survey.
Building the brand: There is something very magical about Metro Bank. But don’t just take my word for it, our customer service scores and awards speak for themselves – and it’s vital to come in and experience it for yourself. We create real value for customers, but not enough people across the UK know about all the wonderful things we do. That’s why increasing our brand awareness and familiarity this year was key. So, we launched our first ever brand campaign in January, and celebrated our 10th birthday in July with a virtual concert for our communities, as well as many other activities through the year.
Navigating through covid-19: To make sure that our purpose guided our decision making, we asked ourselves a simple question: if our ambition is to be the ‘UK’s best community bank’ and our purpose is to create fans, how should we respond? The answer was and is simple, we must do everything we can to support our colleagues, customers and communities through this difficult time. For us, this means keeping all our stores open and launching new ones, finding ways to serve and check in on our vulnerable customers, increasing volunteering in our local communities, and communicating the right messages at the right time.
Marketing as a growth engine: The entrepreneurial culture at Metro Bank fosters innovation, and creates the perfect environment for rapid testing and learning – especially when we suddenly have to change tack on our marketing plans. Metro Bank hadn’t done any performance marketing before this year, and so we invested our time in designing and executing multiple tests across all of our activities, creating benchmarks and understanding key learnings that will allow for a fast acceleration in 2021.
2020 has been a year of many ‘firsts’ for me, which very quickly became the norm. This includes my first time sitting on an Executive Committee, presenting to a bank board, being published in a book, featuring on panels in front of thousands of viewers, and speaking on podcasts. Taking the learnings from this extraordinary year (I refuse to use the word ‘unprecedented’ ever again), there are a few nuggets I think are worth sharing:
Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable – this creates the perfect storm for incredible ideas
Feeling pressure is good – it ensures you keep focused, but feeling stressed does not
Marketing is the perfect balance of art and science – but gut instincts will get you a long way
Surround yourself with rock stars – your team, peers, mentors, and brilliant agency partners
Create value for your customer – never believe they wake up in the morning thinking of your brand
Resilience is essential – fail fast, learn quickly, pick yourself up and always be prepared to pivot
What next year has in store for us all is really anyone’s guess. For me personally, if I can learn and grow, lead my team, and progress our brand through 2021 at the rate we have in 2020, then I’m just going to embrace the opportunity with open arms and hold onto my hat.
I just can’t wait, because the best is simply yet to come.
About Jessica Myers: Jessica joined Metro Bank in November 2019. Her role focuses on shaping Metro Bank’s brand strategy, building transformational marketing capabilities, and investing in brand and marketing communications that exemplify the brand to drive business growth.
Jessica is a brand and marketing specialist, with a track record of leading brands through transformational change. Before joining Metro Bank she led the RBS Brand team, with responsibility across its 10 portfolio brands. Prior to this, she held various brand and marketing roles at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney and has also worked at American Express.
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