Telescope - 1As your credit union or bank starts the New Year, conducing some form of marketing research is probably on your 2014 “To Do” list. Member or customer surveys. Focus groups. Demographic analysis.

Putting together an effective strategy often requires some form of the above or other research. As you develop your research plans, it’s best to keep two simple rules in place: look out and listen in.

  • Look out: Examine what outsiders of your organization think about you. This includes talking with consumers who use your products and those that don’t. Ask pointed questions, such as “what you are looking for in a checking account,” “why do you choose where you do your loan business” and “why don’t we have all your financial business?” You must dive deeper into external perceptions regarding your brand. While you probably eat, live, breathe and sleep financial products and services, consumers don’t. Find out what they are thinking (or not thinking).
     
  • Listen in: Your own employees are an excellent source of information about what is really taking place inside your bank or credit union. They often know the weaknesses and the problem spots. However, we rarely talk with employees when it comes to research. And when we do so, it is usually just “lip service” in the form of a generic employee survey. Rather than just talking with employees we must listen to them. Talk about any underlying or unspoken issues. Take their advice and implement some of their suggestions.

Research is not overly complicated. In fact, many times we get lost in too much data. While working as a senior vice president at a credit union I once received a bound member survey report about 500 pages long. It was so heavy I could use it to lift weights. It was overcomplicated and just too much.

When it comes to your next marketing research project, just look out and listen in.