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Put Some Muscle To Your Customers’ Side Hustles

Recently, I saw a bank post on Twitter that they were running a promotion to spotlight their customers’ side hustles and it got me to thinking…
a) What a great idea for a community bank to do!
b) Just how important are these in our communities.
If a bank is supposed to be a catalyst for economic development in their community (and spoiler alert…they are), then understanding the side hustle (“microbusinesses” to the econ grads out there) is key. And I say this not only as a banker but as a side hustler myself.
If a financial institution is supposed to be the “preferred financial provider for our customers” (or insert whatever mission statement phrasing echoes this) then understanding our customers is a key part of that. To be sure, successful banks do a great job in profiling our needs for homes, or working capital, or the family checking account, and these are all huge. But what about the hobbies that we all have to make a little bit on the side? Do we understand those? Do we go after that business? Do we treat those with equal importance as the other stuff?
Myself, I’m a singer/songwriter for hire posing as a banker. One pays the bills…the other…well…I enjoy a lot! Myself and my band (Delta Heart…the house band of the Mississippi Delta) are available for hire for most events and I enjoy writing songs. I also like playing background music for private parties and the like. It’s a largely thankless task, but the food is good and it’s a good paid practice to work on some new material and just have a good time. But, it can get a little confusing in keeping up with the money part of it. Wouldn’t a separate account be easier to manage along with a separate debit card? “But”, says the fellow ‘micro-preneur’ “wouldn’t it be confusing to have two accounts and two cards in your wallet?” It would be…but most banks can title accounts in their system and by assigning nicknames on their mobile apps and internet banking products that keep the money separate. Does your bank offer instant issue debit cards? Most can title debit cards something along with the name of the cardholder which they have to do.
Bankers, those little features on products…they’re sales opportunities! Let me type that again…those little naming features, the little aesthetic touches to your products…are ways to differentiate yourself from the competition and can be the difference in a prospect and a customer.
“But who wants to chase small deposit business?!” Nobody. But that’s not the point. People with side hustles (even that guy playing blues guitar at your cocktail party) have cars, houses, families, or maybe even other businesses that actually pay the bills. For me, approaching me through my side hustle would be an innovative way to ask for my business. Many times (admittedly, not every time) people with side jobs are passionate about those jobs or passionate about something else. You’ve just approached them a) in a different way than the bank down the street and b) in a way that speaks to something of importance to them. Either way…you win.
Looking at microbusinesses as part of local community is important too. Having someone who plays music at the local restaurant adds a little something different to the local feel for both locals and out of town guests. These are the people that spend the money in your customers’ businesses and pay the local sales tax. The lady that sells the high end jewelry out of her house keeps local dollars from going elsewhere. The local consignment business that has local dresses, wood carvings, art pieces…they all add a special touch to the economic community and that is dead center in the community bank’s wheelhouse.
What are some ways that your bank can differentiate itself from the competition as well as grow its customer base as well as support the local economy? It may not be the greatest rhyme I have ever written…but time to put some muscle to our customers’ side hustles!!


written by


Byron Earnheart is the Programming Director for the Barret School of Banking in Memphis, TN and the host of the “Main Street Banking” podcast…the only podcast solely devoted to community banks. He has over 15 years experience in the financial services industry; 11 of which have been in banking in various roles from teller work to branch management. He spends his time playing guitar and singing in Delta Heart (the “house band of the Mississippi Delta”), writing music, cooking, reading, and enduring the University of Tennessee Volunteers athletic seasons. He is married to his wife Kelly of 11 years and has two children, John Aubrey (11) and Mary Laura (7). If you'd like to hear Byron's music, check him out on Spotify:
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