Wendi Costlow

Chief Marketing Officer

Wendi Costlow was born in Bryan, Texas. She attended Texas A&M University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Public Relations with a minor in Speech and Communication. She then went on to attend graduate school at Texas Woman’s University where she received a degree in Business.

Wendi has worked in financial services since 1991 and has spent the last two decades of her career as a marketing professional for a variety of different companies. Presently, she holds the position of Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer at a financial institution headquartered in Texas. Among her professional strengths are leading talented teams in building comprehensive and effective communications, both external and internal. She also excels at building communication and sales strategies, launching new client systems, and rolling out new employee programs. Wendi’s professional philosophy centers around the marketing truism that in order to win, a company must have the right message, the right channel, and the right audience defined.

These days, Wendi Costlow lives in Dallas, Texas. When not working, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her friends and family.

What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?

My typical day is spent in meetings and strategy-based development sessions. I make it productive by getting to the office around 7 am so I can get a jump on organizing my schedule, look at the lay of the land, and attend to some housekeeping matters. That way, I’m able to focus and be present while I’m in meetings and between meetings. I plan out the day in such a manner that I know exactly what I have to accomplish and where I’m going to be at any given moment.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Marketing is an extremely collaborative line of work. It’s art and science coming together. It’s mixing the analytics and metrics with creativity. Marketing is always a team effort, so you have a lot of different ideas and people of different ages and points-of-view represented throughout the process.

What’s one trend that excites you?

In banking, one of the most fascinating trends is artificial intelligence and how it can be used to leverage data. From the perspective of a bank, AI can help you better know your customers and understand their journey from the first moment they decide to start a relationship with you. It can assist you in growing a bond, building a rapport, and learning what they need. Using AI, you can actively suggest and provide customers with things that will save them time, make them money, and fulfill their financial dreams. Our role is for us to learn more about the customer to better serve them and help them get where they want to be in life, whether it’s buying a house, paying for their children’s education, or retiring comfortably. As a community bank, our goal is to make those dreams into reality.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

Getting to work early is a huge advantage to being productive. There’s something very zen about how quiet the office is when no one else is there and I can take a moment to get ready for the day. By the time everyone else arrives, I’m firing on all cylinders.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell myself not to take life so seriously and not to be afraid to fail. If you take it constructively, there are great lessons in failure that can move you forward more than move you backward.

Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?

Irish folk music is amazing. I get teased by friends and family for my love for Irish folk music.

What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?

Walk away from your desk. I think there’s great value in movement. There’s value in simply getting up and walking around the office, saying “hi” to people, and socializing. Those moments are important for team building, as well as your own mental health. Stepping away from your duties and engaging with people in a way that doesn’t involve work is an easy and positive method of periodically recharging throughout the workday.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

I’m energized by people, so when I feel unfocused or overwhelmed, I like to walk away from my desk and have a personal moment with another person or a group of people.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?

Being open-minded when a challenge or an opportunity arises has served me very well over the years. As a rule, I think when you’re handed a project that you think is out of your scope or outside of your comfort zone, jump in head first. Someone thought that you would be the right person and that your involvement would make the project better. I think that if you’re open to taking on those additional responsibilities, you’ll always learn and grow from them, as well as further your career.

What is one failure in your career,  how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?

In marketing, you’re going to fail at certain campaigns. You’re going to try a strategic approach and it’s not going to gather you the return that you’d hope for. That’s happened countless times in my career, and I’ve had to report back to the CFO or CEO. What I had to learn how to do was be agile enough to transition the strategy. When a campaign under performs, you have to be open, honest, and transparent with the people you’re reporting to and let them know that it didn’t work. Then you have to be able to pivot and redirect the funds and activities to a new and different path in order to gauge whether it’s a better approach.

What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?

If you can come up with an idea that saves a busy mom time, run with it.

What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I use Notes in Outlook all the time. As I go through my day, it helps me build and organize my thoughts around projects and strategic initiatives.

Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?

Most of the podcasts I listen to are pure guilty pleasures at this point in my life. I use them for entertainment and distraction. My favorite podcasts are based around true crime. I like puzzles and I’m very curious, so I find that genre really interesting.

What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?

The Queen’s Gambit is fantastic. It’s an exceptionally well-done view into the life of being a woman, especially being a woman of a certain era who’s brilliant at chess.

Key learnings:

  • Marketing is a mix of art and science, and when devising a campaign, it’s important to find the balancing point.
  • Being open-minded and embracing challenges is the best way to develop professionally and forward your career.
  • Transparency and openness are crucial in the marketing sector, especially when a project doesn’t work out as intended.