Another ABA Bank Marketing Conference is in the books and, a week later, we’ve still got a few themes from the conference on our minds.

1. Tell a bigger story.

As much as we hate to admit it, banking is a parity industry. Any bank doing something drastically different from the rest is probably breaking government regulations. That’s why it’s so important to differentiate your brand through storytelling. Most banks are guilty of throwing irrelevant product ads at clients and hoping something sticks, when they should be engaging their clients at a much deeper, more personal, level. You can’t just promote an app because every bank is “supposed” to have one and you want everyone to know you’ve got an app, too—you have to tell a story about the app.

Instead of shouting “Use our app!” you can weave the app into your bank’s brand narrative. “We’re a community bank dedicated to providing personalized service to each of our customers, but even though we’re not one of the ‘big banks,’ we believe in providing our customers with the latest and best mobile banking technology.”

Now, instead of creating generic advertising and content around our apps, you’re making the app a part of your brand’s already-established culture.

2. Talk to your customers the way they are talking.

Ninety-eight percent of SMS marketing messages are opened, according to Frost & Sullivan 2010 and Epsilon 2009 reports. Compare that with an email marketing open rate of 22 percent. The number of people who respond to text message marketing is absolutely astounding, but when polled, not one bank marketer attending the SMS session said they were running an SMS program at their bank.

If your clients are sending and receiving text messages every hour of every day, why aren’t you integrating your communications into their lives? During his SMS breakout session, Hunter Young suggested that, at the very least, banks should text a link to their app’s landing page in the app store when a client opens a new account. Why hadn’t anyone thought of that before?

3. Innovate Intelligently

Tom Goodwin said, “The only thing growing faster than technology is our expectation of technology,” yet the only way the financial industry seems to innovate is by applying new technology to old practices.

The biggest client-facing technological advancement of the last decade is mobile check deposit—which is merely taking a picture of an IOU written on a piece of paper. That’s not advanced technology, it’s a bunch of old ideas hacked together.

As we continue to innovate, we need to ask ourselves how we can truly change our practices and our platforms to make our clients lives easier—instead of just innovating for the sake of innovation.