How one of the largest banks in the U.S.  supports the small business community by creating a space for knowledge sharing

Normally banks are seen as big monoliths, but not in the case of this bank. A very nimble and small team is making great strides within their walls to help small businesses all over the United States with a community geared towards them.

The Small Business line of business team at this large bank saw an opportunity to further engage their customer base. As an extension of their current small business portal, they added a branded community to empower small business owners and create a space for sharing ideas, discussing challenges and opportunities as they grow.


Creating a hub for
small business
This small business forum is quickly becoming a must-visit resource for any small business or entrepreneur.

Peer-to-peer networking opportunities between customers
Hundreds of connections and meaningful ideas are now shared daily.

Building a strong brand for their small business audience
Customers feel like they belong to a broader community that’s associated with the Bank.

The Challenge

Evaluating the success they had leveraging the buying power of small businesses, the Top Ten U.S. Bank team wondered if more could be done with a community. The Product Manager recollected those initial conversations: “‘Is there a way to combine the collective knowledge of our millions of customers?’ we asked. ‘Is there a way we can facilitate this knowledge transfer to a forum?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes, actually, we can.’”

Even if not every customer contributes, they realized, the forum would still consist of a sizeable population of small business people who could share their experiences and help others. Community members could get answers and offer support to important questions such as, ‘how do I set up my business?’, ‘how do I design my first logo?’, ‘how do I purchase office supplies?’ and ‘what legal hurdles can I expect to go through?’

With so many different things that small businesses need to figure out to get off their feet, the team knew that a forum of like-minded individuals would do much good for the community.

“So it was logical that the question came up,” recollected the Project Manager. “We knew there must be an easy way to create a space where businesses could share their personal journeys.” And so the [Top Ten U.S. Bank] community project was born: a place for sharing the collective knowledge of small businesses; a place to bring them together.

‘Is there a way to combine the collective knowledge of our millions of customers?’ we asked. ‘Is there a way we can facilitate this knowledge transfer to a forum?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes, actually, we can.’

Product Manager, Top Ten U.S. Bank

The Solution

An inspiring mission, indeed. Yet there was one small problem: they had never had a community offering within their product line before. Believing in the value they could offer their customers by building such a space, however, the team pushed forward.

After looking at several other options, Vanilla Forums was selected based on its plethora of options, flexibility and price. They then hired a full time Community Manager to initiate conversations, engage the members and support them by helping them make connections to others. It proved to be a perfect combination.

The Results

All this dedication and investment by this large bank into their small business community has certainly paid off for their forum members. Hundreds of connections and meaningful ideas are now shared daily. Some great features, such as “Ask an Expert”, include topics such as credit card processing, taxes, social media management and much more. The Top Ten U.S. Bank small business forum is quickly becoming a must-visit resource for any small business or entrepreneur.

Of course, there’s also a tangible benefit for the bank as well. As the Product Manager noted: “Our customers feel like they belong to a broader community that’s associated with our brand. There’s a lot to be gained from giving them support either on the financial or knowledge side. It might not immediately translate to present value or ROIs in the short term, but in the long term we’re building a strong brand for our small business audience. That’s huge.”