Steven Page has an extensive resume in marketing and digital banking, and his reputation has long been known by those seeking cutting-edge expertise in the field. Page started his career more than three decades ago with the Shell Corporation. Over the years working with the company, Page’s day-to-day activities and skills evolved. In his own words, Page was a ‘sponge’ that soaked up knowledge. It has been his ability and desire to learn new things that has led to his current role with SafeAmerica Credit Union.
Page joined SafeAmerica in 2015 and has turned the company’s digital marketing into a strong tool that has help grow the bank exponentially. Page also works as a consultant and the digital marketing expert has his own consultancy brand known as Pageco.Net. Although he loves working on webinars and one-to-one sessions with Pageco.Net, Page is working hard to continue building SafeAmerica’s online presence.
Recently, Page sat down with us to talk about his career, life and consultancy work.
Steven, how did you get started with SafeAmerica Credit Union?
STEVEN PAGE: I was working at another credit union close by and the CEO for SafeAmerica Credit Union knew of me by reputation. He contacted me through LinkedIn and asked if we could do a lunch together, [he] wanted to talk to me about the digital world. Long story short, I took the lunch and started working there about two months later.
What led you into the finance industry as a marketing and digital banking specialist?
STEVEN PAGE: I had just “retired” from the private sector and had a side business as a digital marketing consultant. It starting to take on a life of its own. Digital started booming. Some of the connections I had demanded more and more technology to keep up with the demand of the public. I went to every conference, joined every marketing group, think tanks, anything. I wanted to stay on top of what was going on in the industry.
A group that works with Stanford University caught my attention. They had some really neat stuff they were working on and I was invited to be a part of it. The group dealt with credit unions. Therefore, I knew that was the direction I had to go. Looked around in my local area and what do you know, they needed a marketing person. I was now officially in the financial field.
How can good marketing improve the banking experience for customers?
STEVEN PAGE: Banking, especially credit unions, were way behind when it came to digital channels. Most didn’t even have a proper website. There was a huge need for change and not many of us out there to do it. The larger institutions were starting to see that they needed to get with the times. But smaller shops and certain geographic locations were not. Living in Silicon Valley, financial institutions are expected to have innovative technology. It’s everywhere. There is this need to make sure you have a best-in-class digital footprint, which in turn will help you gain a large customer-membership base. It was an essential element. Good marketing is smart marketing. Give the customer what they want in the fastest, less frictionless way possible. The digital tools were there to do it. I just think many financial institutions are afraid of change. Once that change happened, the experience rate sharply increased with positive feedback.
Steven, you began your career with Shell in 1987. How has your career evolved into your current role?
STEVEN PAGE: First, I started young and had a boss that really believed in me and encouraged me. He’s my mentor still today. I love to learn especially when it comes to technology. It was the start of the internet and the digital world, it was pretty much the wild west. My curiosity got the best of me. I had some friends playing around in the field and I was like a sponge. I wanted to know everything about the digital world. It became all consuming. From start-ups to my own consulting business, I just followed my passion. It is so true that if you follow down the path of what you love, it’s never work. I never saw any of what I did as work. Some challenges, yes of course. However, never was it something I thought I would ever stop doing. From the beginning when there was very little equipment, software and knowledge to today were it seems like there is something new every day, I’m still that young guy inside excited to see what happens if you do this or that.
In 1987, there was no such thing as digital banking. What was it like to go from paper-based operations into the digital marketing age?
STEVEN PAGE: Amazing. I don’t know how we did it before. Honestly. When I look back and think of all the manual processes and just simply guessing to today where you have tons of hard data that will tell you everything you need to know to market, it really is revolutionary. I think most people forget that not long ago you had to pay inside the gas station store and not at the pump. When you went to the bank, you went to the branch. Now the branch is on your phone in your pocket. The digital momentum is moving faster and faster. The digital marketing age is much better for both consumer and business owners, targeting to your needs. I think many people just take that for granted. There is a privacy concern today with big data that we did not have before. Everything is fine and good until the information is breached. Never had that worry back in the day. But people in this industry are amazing. They are working every day to make it secure. It is the reason why we don’t live like we did 30 years ago. Progress — but it does come at a price.
You have had some interesting volunteer experiences, including one with the Federal Reserve. How have those volunteer roles changed the way you approach your day-to-day work?
STEVEN PAGE: I really enjoy giving back and sharing what I have learned. Like I said before, I’m like a sponge and want to soak up all the knowledge I can. Working with the Federal Reserve on the idea of moving money faster was something that was very interesting to me. Riding the bitcoin rails but at the same time keeping fraud out of the picture is not an easy task. It changed the way I approach my day-to-day work with knowledge of what is next. I can be one-step, if not two steps ahead of the industry by taking part. The networking aspect is exciting and met some brilliant individuals doing amazing things. I’m happy to see that the Federal Reserve was open to bringing in industry leaders to help create a better way of moving money. It showed that they understand we need this technology. Personally, it has helped me grow and learn from various sources. Keeps you well rounded and open to ideas you may not have thought of. I feel very privileged that I got to participate.
Can you tell me about your consulting and speaking work? How often do you speak with groups and what are those events like?
STEVEN PAGE: Nowadays, it is more webinars and one-on-ones with business owners or industry leaders in the digital field. I love solving problems. I have a great small, tight-knit group that I work with to help anything from your local business, Silicon Valley start-ups to the big industry leaders. Marketing is the same no matter what the size of the player. Keep it simple, have a strategy and tools to make the goal happen. When doing speaking engagements, I usually open up with just a quick overview of who I am. Then might give some quick examples of what is going on in the industry today and jump straight into Q&A. I would rather have the audience involved the conversation and actually getting something out of it, then just listening to me talk to whole time. Have some nice graphics in background, some serious points, more funny ones about life in general. Then some easy simple takeaways they can use. That’s it. People feel that they got something out the talk.
What makes SafeAmerica Credit Union stand out among competitors?
STEVEN PAGE: SafeAmerica Credit Union differentiates itself as the leader in the area of lending. It is like a well-oiled machine. The decisions can be made in five to seven minutes, not days. We pay our indirect lenders within 24 hours, so they have their money quickly. We also try to never say “no”. Even if the person trying for a certain loan does not qualify by our standards, we still give a counter offer. Because of this we usually get the business. This is something you can do with great marketing, big data to support it, highly trained lending staff and nimble enough to take the time to make the member or customer feel we are working just for them. Very personal. With digital marketing — auto-triggers, data collection, best in class software — you can achieve this and be profitable.
Steven, what is a day in your life like?
STEVEN PAGE: Busy. Very busy. I’m not a morning person, so I don’t claim to start my day at 4 a.m. I start more around 8 a.m. unless I am dealing with anything overseas. I am not a breakfast person, so it is straight to the office to dive in where I left off. I give myself a good hour to catch up on social media and read my favorite blogs and other online magazines. Then I dive into email and whatever projects I have going on. Phones calls and texting scattered in between it all and it’s 7 p.m. or so by then. I make sure to try to turn off on the weekends and clear my mind of work. Doesn’t always happen that way, but one tries.
What makes you smile?
STEVEN PAGE: Number one is family. They bring you down to earth and know you better than anyone one else. Second would be my staff. If you are working with people you don’t consider family, you are missing out. We know how each other thinks and solves problems. Each with their own unique skills. That team feeling is the magic that makes it all happen. Can you see me smiling?
What scares you?
STEVEN PAGE: Ignorance. Just because you haven’t heard about something, doesn’t mean it’s not real. People who are not willing to learn or at least open their minds to what might be, are scary and sad.
Steven, do you have any hobbies?
STEVEN PAGE: I am a car nut and a foodie. Love a good track day or an exotic car meet-up. Modern vehicles just amaze me. The art of the design and science behind the scenes is like no other. Amazing engineering. Huge F1 fan. As for being a foodie, I’m not a drinker, so give me a good dessert any day over a glass of wine. I have had the best talks, ideas, interactions while breaking bread with people more than in any boardroom.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
STEVEN PAGE: Nikola Tesla. I think he would be amazed at what our world is like today.
What are you never without?
STEVEN PAGE: My phone. Nevertheless, I’m not one of those annoying people that let it ring super loud for the world to hear. Most of the time you wouldn’t know I have it on me. Silence and non-vibrating people! Especially in meetings or a restaurant.
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“Popularity is not leadership.” – Richard Marcinko
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?
STEVEN PAGE: I could say some real profound things like, end hunger, hate, wars, disease. But I actually would not want to mess with the balance of nature. I’m not saying all is fair or right. Most of that bad stuff is manmade. However, all these things happen for a reason I can’t explain. It would be egotistical for me to pick one thing over another because of my own biases. Think I would just keep it all as is.
For more information of Steven Page, please visit his LinkedIn page at https://www.linkedin.com/in/pagecoservices/.