Rolling with Change: Shane Adair, Marketing Manager at TAB Bank

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TAB Bank is an Internet-based business bank that primarily serves the trucking industry as well as other organizations that process a lot of invoices. They specialize in accounts receivable financing, also called factoring. They essentially provide short-term business loans that use outstanding invoices or inventory as collateral; TAB Bank will buy the invoices, loan the money, and then get repaid when the invoice gets paid. They also offer full business banking services from checking and savings to treasury management services.

TAB Bank has been in business for 20 years, starting out solely in the trucking industry. They were originally chartered by Flying J, the owners of the ubiquitous truck stops you’ve seen on your cross-country trips. When Pilot acquired Flying J in 2010, TAB broke off and became a mostly standalone organization. That’s also when they expanded out of a trucking-only focus and began working with manufacturers, staffing companies, and other invoice-driven organizations.

We spoke with Shane Adair, the marketing manager at TAB Bank, and asked him about his work, his career, and what he enjoys about being at TAB.

What is your role at TAB?

Well, there’s only two of us in marketing, so we do everything. My partner in crime, Trevor, writes our press releases, handles our Marketo work, gets people to conferences, and manages our booths.

I handle the rest of our mar-tech stack, work with our vendors and agencies, handle our social media, manage our content flow, our website SEO, and our digital advertising assets.

We’re swamped at times, but we work with a lot of agencies to help with our content creation, video creation, and so on — different types of agencies for different types of content.

What got you interested in a career in marketing?

I graduated a long time ago with a Business Administration degree and a marketing minor. I was in sales for 20+ years, and during that time I worked for one dental supply company where we also did the marketing for the dental offices. We handled all their printed materials, did their mailings, sent their reminders, birthday cards, and so on.

I later ran the sales group for a direct mail marketing firm, and then I was an advertising director for multiple newspapers after that. We sold all of the marketing tools from print to digital in our suite of products.

When the opportunity came to get out of that industry, I jumped and landed here at TAB Bank. It’s been fantastic! I don’t have to manage anybody. I just manage myself and my tasks and getting things done.

That sounds a lot easier in some ways.

When I was an advertising director, I had about 40 people who indirectly reported up to me. I had five managers who handled those people in different areas like our design team and our sales team, plus our support staff. I loved the work, but the responsibility could be overwhelming.

Is there anything about sales that you miss?

I miss the face-to-face and sitting down with people on a regular basis, but we do a lot of events where I get to do that. We staff our booth at a lot of events, so I still get the opportunity to talk to people, find out about them, what their companies are doing, what are their pain points, and so on. Even though I’m in marketing, when I’m representing the bank, I’m still a salesperson.

What separates TAB from its competitors?

Most of our competitors are finance companies., so they’re not really the end game for the actual funds. They have to buy funds from a bank, which means they have to go out and get a loan themselves. They still need some sort of influx of cash that they can get somewhere else which means their cost of funds is higher.

We’re an actual bank, so our costs of funds are lower, plus we have the backing of being an FDIC-insured bank. People know that if they deposit funds with us, they’re protected up to a certain level.

We also are very hands on with our clients. We have relationship managers — we actually have more relationship managers than anyone else in the bank — and those people have a small group of clients they work with.

They’ll sometimes talk to those clients several times a day, and certainly every day. The clients know they’ve got somebody on their side, someone they can contact. We also do site visits with them and spend two or three days in a client’s office, getting to understand what they do, how they work, so we can serve them better.

I’d say customer service is our big differentiator, but it goes beyond that. We’re more like business people, not dark-suited bankers, as we like to say. [Laughs] We are definitely not a suit-wearing, stuffy bank. I wouldn’t say we’re a laid-back or casual environment, but we know what we do best. We think like businesspeople, not like bankers, and that lets us reach our customers on their level, instead of trying to make them reach us on ours.

What gets you excited about working at TAB?

We’re growing like crazy, and we’ve got fantastic leadership. All of our executive team, from our president on down care about our clients. They make sure that we’re taking care of them.

We’re here to make money, but at the same time, we know when too much is too much. We’re constantly trying to find new ways to improve our technology. We’ve got a very large IT staff that’s working to make things easier for our customers. Ultimately, that’s what we want.

Because of all that, this is a great place to work. It’s a very close-knit family, and there’s 220 of us and most all are located here in our corporate offices in Ogden, Utah.

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Be willing to change.

Here’s what I mean: When I first started working, I was working for a company that sold computer hardware and software it in Tempe, Arizona. We had a big campus and everybody was young and vibrant, and we had a lot of energy.

The biggest lesson for me was realizing that anything can happen and anything can change at any given time, so you just have to roll with it, and be willing to accept it.

I got promoted into my first management job there, managing a team of 15 salespeople. But shortly after, we restructured and I was put back into a sales role because they had overstaffed on the manager side. It was my first corporate restructuring.

I remember being angry about it and, well, sulking a bit. We were in a sales management meeting, and I was sitting in the back of the room. I must not have looked very pleased, because my manager, David, came to me and said our VP of Sales noticed that I was sitting back there.

“He said he wants to know what’s wrong, and said that if you don’t turn your attitude around, we don’t have a place for you.”

I thought, “Oh, he noticed.” I was a bit surprised and embarrassed so I thought, “You know what, he’s right.” I realized I was upset and angry, but at the same time, it was really no skin off my back. It didn’t really hurt me because I’d only been in the role for a short period of time, so it wasn’t like anything was taken from me.

The biggest lesson for me was realizing that anything can happen and anything can change at any given time, so you just have to roll with it, and be willing to accept it.

My attitude and how I think about changes, that is all in my control. There’s nothing outside of your control when it comes to your attitude. That was my big learning experience, and luckily, it happened early in my career.

Who are three marketers you admire?

The first is Karla Woodward. She was with me at the last newspaper I was at, working as our marketing director. I loved her attitude and the way she was trying to find different ways to go about increasing our subscriber base and putting a different look and feel to the newspaper, taking it to a different generation. She had a lot of great new ideas that I hadn’t seen before in that industry.

She was willing to take chances, and listen to the feedback from others. She really understood what was happening and tried to make corrections along the way.

The second is my boss right now, Justin Gordon, our SVP of Sales and Marketing. I appreciate that he knows he may not know everything there is to know about marketing, but he’s constantly reading, constantly looking for new and innovative ways of doing things. On top of that, he’s always challenging us to think differently about how to solve problems, not to just jump right in and start working on it, but to be thoughtful about our approach.

Plus Justin is vigilant about our budget, more so than I am. It definitely helps to have someone who’s a counterbalance to my approach. I’m more of a “let’s go do this right now!” kind of guy, and Justin likes to slow down, be patient, and consider an approach from every angle.

My third marketer is my marketing partner, Trevor Morris, because I have no idea how he did this for so long all by himself! He held this department and all of our marketing efforts together for a few years managing the messaging, website, social media, etc. all alone and did an amazing job. Trevor and I work very well together and he has made for a great teammate in growing our marketing footprint the past two-and-a-half years.

Trevor has the advantage of possessing the knowledge of TAB’s history and what we have done over the years within marketing and he shares that regularly — he knows where the bodies are buried. He knows what has worked and what hasn’t, helping us avoid pitfalls as we move forward. I couldn’t think of a better cohort to have.

Why EverString?

I’m challenged all the time to bring leads in the door, and I’ve spent the last two-plus years trying to figure out who the hell our clients actually are. [Laughs]

We’ve had personas built, and I like to think we know who our customers are — I’ve got a database full of people who are doing business with us — and we’ve been getting closer and closer all the time to identifying that ideal customer.

EverString came in and scored our database and helped us go out and find people who looked exactly like our database, which made it so much easier for me to go and get clients who at least match those who are doing business with us right now.

We were able to use the EverString tool and get roughly 3,000 leads and split that up into two different mailings, email and direct mail, to reach those specific clients, which we got a ton of great feedback on.

It was great, because we had a very narrowly-focused group and we built something very specific to that industry, and we were able to have a much bigger, much more successful reach with it.

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