Lisa Woletz profileIn a world of financial options for consumers and commercial business, the community bank has never had a more impactful opportunity. Making a profound difference in the towns that our community banks call home is "food for the soul" of the communities we represent. While rates will always be a factor in lending, it is the ongoing spirit of the community bank that nurtures and establishes the relationships that lead to long-standing, repeat business. It's about giving back to those around us as much as it is about operating the day-to-day business of banking. And, community banking is about doing what is right for the greater good, not simply the almighty dollar.

As a marketing professional in this competitive environment, I believe it is imperative to tell our stories, loud and proud. While community banks may not be "hanging their flags" on billion dollar stadiums and concert venues, we are making a difference where it is needed the most: at home. From sponsoring a local golf outing to cash donations, every dollar that we spend impacts the lives of those that we call our neighbors. Every volunteer hour we offer does the same, and many times, our acts of doing good for others leads to opportunities that would have not presented themselves otherwise.

Community banks have significantly smaller budgets than their corporate neighbors. But, the beauty in our atmosphere is being able to do the "right thing," at the right time. Doing the "right thing" is sometimes a tough decision, but it is always the right decision to offer support where it is needed most. In business, this might cost us a little more in both time and dollars but the extra effort pays dividends many times over as we positively impact our communities, customers, and employees. As Krish Dhanam has said, "the message is clear: Plan with attitude, prepare with aptitude, participate with servitude, receive with gratitude and this should be enough to separate you from the multitudes." Think about that... fundamentally most banks do the same thing. But it is the gift of being a community bank that sets us apart from everyone else. "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give," Winston Churchill said. How many times in our business lives have we really stopped to think about that? The work of the community bank has the ability to fuel the spark that moves mankind forward. Our words reveal our thoughts but it's our actions that reflect our character.

Social media has forced the redefinition of marketing, making the ability to share our stories and the good news that community banking offers easier than ever before. No longer do we need to wait for the weekly newspaper to land on doorsteps, but rather we send instant messages via our websites, Facebook, Twitter, or a myriad of other social outlets available right at our fingertips. There is a time to let things happen and a time to make things happen. The time to make a difference for community banks offers greater opportunity than ever before and technology has willingly offered the gift of spreading our good news!

Here's to making 2019 the most visible year of the community bank and showing the world that we are all making impactful, positive decisions to be remembered for a very long time.

Woletz is vice president marketing at First National Community Bank - New Richmond and a member of the 2018-2019 WBA Marketing Committee.