What healthcare marketers can learn from Umpqua Bank

What healthcare marketers can learn from Umpqua Bank


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The answer to this question is – a lot. Because this bank has carved out its own space, shaped it based on its vision and executed against it meticulously.

Umpqua Bank doesn’t take its cues from other banks. Certainly there are “antes” that they must deliver, as they are in the banking business (similar to your healthcare organization and the “clinical care” you deliver).

But what makes this community bank brand stand out among its peers is that it thinks differently and bigger. They don’t compete based on being slightly friendlier, slightly easier to do business with or offering slightly higher rates. In fact, they’ve got so many unique and progressive ideas, it’s hard to count them all. At the end of the day, they’re ten times different from other banks.

According to EVP of Creative Strategies Lani Hayward, “if you as a marketer focus all of your attention on products and pricing, you’re never going to get ahead. You’re not going to differentiate yourself from the competition, because the guy next door or down the street is going to do the same thing tomorrow. You’re never going to win that battle.” I think this is very relevant for healthcare.

If you’re looking for ways to stand out among your peers and deliver greater value tomorrow than you are today, here’s why this bank should be on your healthcare system or hospital radar screen.

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Story. Umpqua’s got a great back story which it actively builds upon. From one branch in 1953, to proclaiming a new banking revolution in 1996, to opening next generation “community center” stores with regular events from movie night to yoga to new intimate and cozy neighborhood stores (notice stores versus branches) – they’re a stylish, sophisticated and yes, even hip bank. Other banks have longer histories. Citi, for instance, was founded in 1812. But I don’t think any build upon their past any better than Umpqua.

Purpose. Umpqua customers know exactly what this bank stands for (the real business they’re in beyond what they do). The banks greater sense of purpose is conveyed through their public manifesto and brought to life through its distinguishing community-based retail experience and socially-driven activities.

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Behavior. Everything Umpqua does, every experience they create — with employees, customers, and the public in general — supports and enhances their story and is executed with brilliance. In fact, the key question driving strategy discussions at Umpqua has always been, “How can we get people to drive by three other banks to get to ours?”

Retail Experience
The bank has always looked outside the financial sector for inspiration (as today’s healthcare marketers should always look outside healthcare for inspiration).  For instance, Umpqua’s brand has been heavily influenced by the retail industry. “Retailers know all about impulse buys,” Hayward explains. “But how can we bring that kind of thing (or something similar to it) into the banking world? How can we get people to browse our branches, or at least get them to think beyond errands and transactions?”

Umpqua’s answer has been to make its branches look and feel more like “neighborhood stores”, thanks to elements like “catalyst walls” (interactive touchscreen displays that highlight products and services), “refresh bars” that allow customers to grab a cup of the bank’s proprietary coffee blend or Smith Tea and local products — such as bonsai trees, bikes, pottery and even skateboards — that are on display and available for purchase.

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Benevolence. Many of the bank’s brick-and-mortar locations host community and civic events ranging from speed-dating mixers for singles to wine tastings and yoga classes. It’s also found success in certain cities with its “Catalyst Series” of speakers, presentations and workshops — an exclusive series of seminars the bank hosts in its branches.

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Bonding. Beyond customers interacting with Umpqua during business hours, the brand is a platform for its fans to share with one another – through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. But it’s also extremely active in its communities.

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Bold. By changing the rules of the game, the brand continues to surprise and delight. This begins with never thinking of themselves as simply a bank, but more like knowledgeable neighbors.

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In summary, if you’re a healthcare marketer looking to stand out from the crowd and to create new value for your communities and patients, learn from Umpqua.



Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment as an opportunity to move customers, brands and businesses upward to a new destination.