Midland States Bank



44 banking centers
Based in Effingham, IL
$2.7 billion in assets


  • Wanted to grow organically and through acquisitions
  • Needed larger focus on retail side of bank
  • Losing large amount of retail accounts per year
  • Average weekly retail checking account openings subpar
  • Outdated checking account lineup and benefits not competitive with others in marketplace
  • Employees did not believe the retail checking products were a good value


  • Grow customer base with new checking account lineup, direct mail campaign, gifting program and referral program  

  • Design a new checking account lineup with a free checking account and two fee-based accounts including BaZing benefits

  • Rebranded the retail checking program as the Liv™ accounts, created with new excitement and energy
  • Migrate existing retail customers to new accounts to improve account retention


  • 166% increase in gross new accounts
  • 61% increase in fee income
  • Significant increase in amount of customers in fee-based checking accounts 

For any retail bank in a competitive market, growth is never guaranteed. 

The banks that do flourish, however, have found a way to offer products that attract new customers while maintaining positive relationships with existing customers. 

Midland States Bank, based in Effingham, Illinois, has a history of growth, evolving from a small $250 million community bank to a $2.7 billion dollar bank over the past several years. One major turning point began in June 2012, when the bank reacted to some falling numbers by offering a variety of improvements, including a new checking lineup powered by the benefits of BaZing. 

“We quickly turned a net negative to a net positive in our retail checking acquisition,” said Greg Pence, director of marketing at Midland States Bank. “We turned the ship 180 degrees with our checking account strategy, and it has been a really positive experience over the past two years.”


Healthy and Growing

“When we built the new lineup, we had certain key things in mind,” said Greg. “It had to be simple, easy for our employees to talk about and truly better than the competition. We especially didn’t want to make the customer have to jump through hoops in order to take advantage of the value.” 

The bank’s new account lineup was built with the free checking account, Liv Free, and two fee-based accounts including BaZing benefits — Liv Rewarded and Liv Unlimited. 

“It’s three simple accounts that are structured around the way you live,” said Greg.

“The identity theft protection is especially a game changer for people who have ever had their identity stolen or breached,” said Midland States Marketing Manager Jo Ann Luallen. “While other services sell that protection alone for $25-30 a month, we are offering it as one more benefit in the checking account.”

Along with rebuilding their checking account lineup, the Midland States team had a gifting program, direct mail campaign and complete rebranding of the bank in order to grow their customer base.

“The real goal from day one was to open more checking accounts,” said Chris Garrelts, senior sales consultant at StrategyCorps. “If they got more customers in the door, they had a better chance of opening more fee-based accounts.”  

“We also spent time improving our other retail accounts, including both deposit and loan services,” said Jo Ann. “If we wanted to bring in thousands of new checking customers per year, then we needed to make sure we had other top of the line services to offer them too.”

Midland States has seen a 166% increase in gross new accounts. The bank has also seen a significant increase in the amount of customers in fee-based accounts. 

“Employees have new ways to share our accounts with customers as the product continuously evolves, like new features in the BaZing mobile app and more merchants in our local discount network,” said Greg. “We have an ongoing goal of growing the number of customers in the fee-based Liv™ accounts, while sticking to our first priority — keeping conversations around the needs of the customers and how they want to use their accounts.”