Southern First Bank

SOUTHERN FIRST BANK – What does it take to market a bank?

First, one must understand what a prospective client is looking for in a bank. Rather, what they are not looking for. What they are NOT looking for, today, is a checking account. Or a savings account. Or a loan. Or an ATM machine. Or usable technology. Or a fancy website. Or a lush bank lobby. Or …They expect all of that. And they get it. Almost every bank out there has that and more. They are not looking for these items because ALL banks have them. And there are basically no differences. Large bank or small bank. Virtual bank or brick and mortar bank. Today, there is extensive parity in bank offerings. What they are looking for are The Intangibles. Those “offerings” that are a rarity in the current banking environment. The little things that make for unique differentiation. The most coveted intangible is UNDERSTANDING. An evident understanding of MY needs. A holistic understanding of MY personal and professional work. Next are SOLUTIONS. Solutions to the problems I have. Not a blow by blow accounting of the how. Just the final answer that solved my problem. SERVICE. Not just lip service, but service exceeding expectations by foreseeing the needs. MY needs.

From its humble beginnings of accepting the first deposit in a modular trailer back in 1999, Southern First Bank (formerly Greenville First Bank) has grown into THE premier community bank of South Carolina. Southern First Bank, with over $1.2 Billion in assets, currently employs approximately 180 employees at its nine locations. Southern First Bank is the envy of other financial institutions due to its unique client relationship culture known as “ClientFIRST.” It incorporates UNDERSTANDING, SOLUTIONS and SERVICE. The culture, name, logo, and implementation were proudly introduced and designed exclusively for Southern First Bank by Shafer Huguley.

When we began with GFB in 1999, they had just begun with $11 million in assets. Today, SFB is at $1.2 billion in assets. Their vision is to reach $2 billion in the next 5 years. 2015 net income was $11 million. The most ever and the same amount as their entire start up capital in 1999. 1st quarter 2016 net income was $3 million. The most ever. They are on track to do $12 million in net income in 2016. The most ever and more than their entire start up capital in 1999. In 1999 there was 1 office/1 city. Today there are 9 offices/3 cities. In 1999 there were 94 banks in SC. GFB was ranked #94. Today there are 63 banks and SFB is ranked #3. In 1999 there were 7 employees. Today there are 180. Much is “credited to their marketing efforts” and in particular their “ClientFIRST business model (culture)” that SH created in 2000. It represents The Intangibles.

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