Eleven years ago, Amber Burge saw the perfect opportunity. Executives of what is now Flatwater State Bank, aware of her marketing expertise and sensing an opportunity to develop the brand of their growing bank, approached her to offer a marketing gig.
The opportunity to work at an ag-focused bank proved impossible for her to resist. The native Nebraskan had grown up on a small, multi-generation farm in the central part of the state that had raised livestock and grown crops. Burge started in marketing when she interned at a major center pivot manufacturer while she was in college as an agribusiness major. She has remained in marketing ever since and stays connected to agriculture through her family’s ownership of a small herd of cattle.
Shortly after she joined the bank, Burge started its now-annual delivery of dozens of meals to farmers per year as they work the fields during harvest. She still compiles the list of farmers, sets up the schedules and times, and coordinates staff logistics.
“I just loved the ability to connect with customers on their turf,” the marketing officer said. “Agriculture has been a part of my livelihood — I was born and raised on a farm, and I knew I never wanted to be in production agriculture. It’s been my way to continue to connect with what I’ve known all my life.”
Burge, who has led the bank’s messaging through the acquisition of a local bank branch and subsequent name-change, is being recognized as one of BankNews magazine’s 2022 “Outstanding Women in Banking.”
In 2018, what was then Gothenburg Bank purchased a Security State Bank branch in Ansley, Neb., approximately 70 miles northeast of Gothenburg. As the purchase was unfolding, administrators realized that the bank needed to update its name to fully reflect the communities it serves. Burge led the work to change the bank’s name. The bank worked with an outside agency to help them through the process as Burge researched potential names and focused on securing employee buy-in. Burge led the bank’s outreach to key customers in each of their communities and a strong campaign to both internal and external customers — direct mail, in newspapers, digital and in-branch signage. Open houses were held in the bank’s communities for existing customers.
The Flatwater Bank name derives from terms used by two different tribes — the Otoe and the Omaha — referring to the Platte River, and is intended to signify the bank’s goal to serve customers through a calm and steady approach. “Flatwater really does a good job of tying a little bit of our history and who we are with what we are thinking of where we want to go as a bank,” Burge said.
Hired on a part-time basis, Burge has since shifted to a full-time role as Flatwater Bank’s marketing landscape has expanded. When she was hired, the bank advertised extensively in newspapers and radio but had not developed a footprint in either digital or social media advertising. Burge has led the launch of the bank’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. The bank’s ad design work is all done in-house.
An inquisitive person, Burge asks pertinent questions as the bank unveils new programs and isn’t afraid to change course on a plan if it isn’t working. Her lead marketing role equips her with the knowledge of all aspects of the business, giving her the chance to ask department leaders questions and point out possible solutions. Burge and the employee she supervises, Marketing Coordinator Kayla Mann, work with an outside agency for digital advertising, but all other work is done in-house.
“She’s very thoughtful and caring,” Mann said of Burge. “She has a good way of relaying information effectively.”
Mann’s view of her boss fits with Burge’s stated goal in being a leader, a style that deprioritizes her own needs and builds up those around her. “Even though I don’t have a large team of people who work for me, that’s one thing that I’ve always felt is important, is to empower them to be even better than I am today,” Burge added. “That’s just something that I try to do.”