Donny Wilson, Senior Sales Leader- Finance Division, VGM Forbin
“Tell us more about your company.”
As a traveling salesman, I am often asked this question. It all starts the same: I say that VGM Forbin is a web development company specializing in digital marketing that is a part of The VGM Group, Inc., an 800-plus employee company headquartered in Waterloo, IA.
I tell them that while we have a specific team dedicated to the financial industry, we got our start in serving home medical equipment providers, and serve clients in many industries across the country, including orthotics & prosthetics, physical therapy, manufacturing and so on.
At this point, one of two things happens:
- The person I’m getting to know says “That’s interesting” and is genuinely interested that we serve multiple industries, OR
- The person I’m getting to know says “That’s interesting” but is, in fact, not interested and a bit turned off to the possibility of partnering with a web development company that works with clients outside the financial industry
There seems to be a stigma that working with multiple industries takes attention away from providing the best service to financial customers. “How can you possibly serve us if you’re busy helping Mom and Pop sell wheelchairs and oxygen tanks?” seems to be the thought.
My answer is this: diversification is our competitive advantage.
There are certain web design, development and security standards that are true across any industry. Continually working outside the industry allows us to look in from the outside and not be restrained by the status quo. And we have the ability to stay nimble in the face of constant change and technological evolution.
Don’t get me wrong. There are financial-only web agencies out there that do great work. But focusing only on financial institutions does not automatically make them more qualified than a multi-industry agency. Allow me to make my case more extensively.
Developing “Best Practices” Technology
Every website, regardless of industry has the same basic needs:
- It must be easily accessible by users of any age and across physical, visual, auditory or cognitive impairments.
- It must be responsive to the device it is being used on, from desktops and laptops to tablets, smartphones and smart TVs.
- The user experience must be the focus, helping users get to the information they need as quickly as possible.
- Privacy and security are of the utmost importance, and compliance with industry regulatory standards is the only acceptable solution.
There are differences when you look at specific needs of each industry. A home health provider may need a way for patients to pay their bills online, while a bank would need the functionality for users to be able to apply for a loan on its website. However, regardless of needs, the same building blocks exist across companies’ websites and the industries they serve.
Getting “Out of the Box”
Think back to your college days for a moment. Did you ever find yourself so immersed in writing an essay or report only to realize you were in so far you couldn’t look at your topic from an objective point of view?
The point is, the more we work on the same thing or in the same industry, the more ingrained we get in there being only one way to do things. Serving multiple industries means our team is always looking outside the box for fresh ideas to inspire.
Having worked with community banks across the country, I can say with certainty that the financial industry is not always the most exciting or creative when it comes to marketing. With increased user expectations, especially in the sought after Millennial demographic, new, original and personalized ideas are gold.
Security is Everyone’s Concern
When you think about data breaches, what business names come to mind? Home Depot, Target, Sony and other large retailers have made the headlines in recent years. JP Morgan Chase, the United States’ largest bank, was hit hard back in 2014, but most banks have been immune to hackers…so far.
Small- and medium-size businesses, including community banks, are at risk as well. While they may not have the size of big-name retailers, they don’t have the same financial means to devote to security.
This has lead our team to develop in-depth security protocols across all of our industry offerings. All of our systems use proprietary code that is far more secure than open source systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. We partner with secure hosting providers and follow industry-standard security protocols. We’ve even developed our own website and security auditing product, VGuard™. The lessons we’ve learned from our beginnings in health care have allowed us to stay at the forefront of website security.
Staying Nimble in an Ever-Changing World
One of the biggest knocks on the financial industry is that change is embraced at the speed of molasses. In the Financial Brand’s 2016 Financial Marketing Trends Report, the community bankers surveyed identified this problem:
- The 7th most difficult marketing challenge was “our IT infrastructure is inflexible and limiting”
- The 8th most difficult marketing challenge was “we are risk-averse and/or slow to adopt new ideas”
It’s no wonder potential customers, particularly Millennials, are flocking toward more agile financial tech companies and apps. Too often, banks get caught shoegazing in their own world, clinging to legacy systems and tools that aren’t updated for the world we live in. How often have you shot down a great idea because “that’s not the way we’ve done things in the past?”
Keeping our eyes on a variety of industries allows us to stay on the leading edge of web development and design. From health care and banking to manufacturing, physical therapy and all other types of businesses with varying needs, we can’t afford to do things one way or get comfortable in what works today.
It is our team’s flexibility to work with any business in any industry that is our biggest differentiator and asset. Our process is time tested with fantastic results. In fact, I’d say that our work is a far better benchmark to judge us by than what industries we work with.
The breadth, consistency and quality of our work across industries is what we take the most pride in. Whether it’s a small, family-owned manufacturing company, a health equipment provider doing business across the country or a community bank just like yours, our process is focused on developing a solution that meets your unique needs every time.
And that, to me, is very interesting.