How does your financial institution measure the effectiveness of its marketing strategy? Perhaps the better question to ask is does your financial institution measure how its marketing is performing? If you think about everything that gets measured in your organization – loan growth, deposit growth, branch profitability, etc. – you have to wonder why marketing gets left out of the fold so often. Most organizations make a significant investment in their marketing efforts. Shouldn’t they know if that investment is paying off? If you’re not evaluating the effectiveness of your organization’s marketing function, you really should consider a marketing audit.
Don’t let the term audit keeping your from reading further. This is not a financial audit. A marketing audit is a comprehensive tool which evaluates every aspect of your marketing function. It reviews marketing technique and collateral. It evaluates how well the marketing plan is aligned with organizational goals. It analyzes marketing processes and return on investment. It helps pinpoint which skills your team excels at and which skills may need more development. When conducted correctly by an external source, it has the power to improve your entire organization.
“From an organizational standpoint, marketing permeates our strategic plan now,” said Rob Taylor, CEO of Western Sun FCU. On the Mark Strategies conducted a marketing audit at his credit union in 2013.
“I actually developed some different strategies we need to focus on, like targeting specific age groups and targeting different credit levels with our risk-based lending program. Of course, communication between myself and our marketing vice president is so much better. I would have never done any of that without the marketing audit.”
That alone is worth going through the audit process, but it isn’t the only reason. Here are five reasons to consider a marketing audit this year.
1. Establish Accountability If something in your marketing strategy is not working, or a member of your marketing team is not productive for whatever reason, your marketing performance will take a hit. You cannot have performance improvement without accountability. If your organization is not performing, it’s either moving backward or embracing status quo. A marketing audit is like a GPS. It puts you back on track if you move in the wrong direction.
2. Strengthen Your Brand
Your brand is everything your financial institution stands for. An effective marketing auditor shops the financial institution it is auditing. He assesses the marketing collateral in the branches, takes note of how you display collateral and inquires about products and services. That type of feedback is valuable to marketing the true member or customer experience.
Find the other three reasons to consider an audit in the February issue of my e-newsletter. You’ll also find a financial institution’s marketing audit success story.
Note: The following post was written by Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director for On The Mark Strategies
A few days ago I stopped by my usual Chinese restaurant on the way home. Admittedly, I am particular with my order and get pretty much the same thing every time. The service is usually fair although they do seem to have a pretty high turnover rate with cashiers. The cashier on this night was particularly awful and got me to thinking about how we handle quirky consumers in banks and credit unions.
I placed the same order as always, beef and broccoli, hold the broccoli. Yes, it’s a little peculiar, I admit. I like the beef but I’ve never been crazy about how they cook the broccoli. It’s not like I ask them to charge me less for the meal because I’m not getting the broccoli.
When I placed the order the cashier gave me an overly dramatic and odd look. When she didn’t stop looking at me that way, I actually said “Is that order okay with you?” She seemed surprised by my question and said “Yes, but what’s the point of beef and broccoli if you’re not going to order the broccoli?”
While that’s a fair question, she had no business giving the puzzled look or offering her opinion on the matter. Her job was to take my order and get me the food in a timely manner. As I sat there waiting on my apparently very high maintenance beef and broccoli, I thought about how we treat our members and customers in credit unions and banks, especially when it comes to pairing consumer need with consumer engagement practices.
The majority of the people in our teller lines and offices probably pose little to no challenge when it comes to providing good service. But it’s not the bread and butter member customer that I worry about. It’s those that come in with a particularly challenging question or situation. How well are we handling their needs? More importantly, what kind of training investment are banks and credit unions making in their front-line staff to assure superior service?
If you’re curious about this, an interesting (and sometimes painfully entertaining) way to find out is the great mystery shop experience. By arranging for a complete stranger to walk-in and pose challenging questions to your staff, he or she may discover just how well they handle tricky situations. All the training in the world is well and good, but the time and money spent on it only makes sense if your staff applies what they learned in real world scenarios.
All this is not to say our front-line banking and credit union staff should relegate themselves to the role of order-taker. In the evolving world of financial services consumer engagement, a more intimate knowledge of what a member or customer needs paired with what we have to offer is an integral part of service.
Your cross sales approach should not look like a “product of the month” promotion in which we blindly toss out checking accounts one month and used auto loans the next simply because that’s what the marketing calendar dictates. The art of consumer engagement is a more elegant tool designed to bring together financial institution offerings with consumer needs.
Taking care of customers and members is the number one goal of any financial institution. Learning how to address the unique and individual needs of consumers and meet the obligations of cross-sales platforms is a key in reaching this goal. Ensure your staff is doing everything possible to both successfully address the consumer engagement needs of the many and the “beef and broccoli, hold the broccoli” specialty requests of the picky few. Like me.
A hot marketing topic is the wide variety of social media platforms and how marketing professionals use them. We recently visited with Brenna Kowall, Digital Marketing Specialist with Firefighters Community Credit Union ($200 million assets, 27,500 members) in Cleveland, Ohio to find out more about her efforts using Pinterest.
1) How long has your credit union been involved in Pinterest and what prompted you to join?
Our credit union joined Pinterest about two years ago. We recently went through a rebranding campaign and saw Pinterest as a good way to reach out to both existing and potential members and the communities we serve. We find Pinterest, among other things, is a good outlet for improving our brand identity and also a great member engagement tool. Pinterest is not just another social media channel we have our name on. It’s an amazing marketing tool that helps us connect with our members and potential members and the community.
2) How has Pinterest helped your credit union better connect with members and potential members?
We’ve found people that use Pinterest (our Pinners) tend to take over the job of sharing information for the credit union. When we share something of interest, our Pinners take the initiative to pin, re-pin and share with their networks. You don’t usually see that kind of interaction in traditional marketing and we want to take full advantage of it.
3) What challenges have you faced using Pinterest?
The elephant in the room when it comes to Pinterest is the heavily female-skewed demographic. Honestly, if you’re looking to reach a mostly male audience, Pinterest is not the best outlet for your social media efforts. The way we look at it, though, women control the budgeting and purse-strings in many households these days, so using Pinterest to reach them makes sense.
Our female Pinners are typically frugal mothers, homeowners, and businesswomen. I try to put myself in the shoes of our Pinners and think “okay, they like the pin about increasing home value, so what other content might they like?” Then I go on to finding information about refinancing, home equity, etc. (complementary topics).
It is also sometimes a challenge to not become so heavily mired in sharing only financial services related information. As a credit union, we naturally tend to want to share all things financial, but that’s not necessarily content that is of interest to our Pinners. You want a good mix of information that helps promote the credit union but is not overtly related to finance all the time.
4) How does Pinterest complement your use of other social media platforms?
Pinterest, for us, started out as a complement to our other social media efforts, like Facebook and Twitter. We monitor things we pin that garner the most attention and share that across our other platforms.
Pinterest is also a great tool to present your content visually rather than textually (like status updates and tweets). It’s different from other social media outlets because I need to focus more on what the content looks like rather than how I am saying it.
5) What Pinterest advice do you have for other marketers?
You definitely want to spend time researching what other financial institutions are doing on Pinterest. You also need to think outside the content box and go beyond core products and services. Your Pinterest audience simply won’t go for that every day. I try to look for a good balance between the artsy, fun and do-it-yourself side of Pinterest and the “financial, budget savvy smart spender” brand attitude of our credit union. Finally, make sure you use the things you pin on Pinterest to help leverage your other social media efforts.
A community charter requires a larger marketing budget. Duh!
While that is a simple statement, the reality is when most credit unions move to a community charter they only raise their marketing budget incrementally. However, a community charter requires a larger (and smarter) use of your resources.
This video gives suggestions on how to allocate your marketing budget. Click on the short video below from the presentation “It Teaks a Village: Community Marketing.”
The Dallas Marathon was scheduled for December of last year. I had not run a full marathon in awhile so I decided to enter the event. I began training in August. Yes, August, during the middle of the Texas heat. Over 16 weeks of speed work, hill training and long runs.
Morning after morning I dragged my legs out of bed and laced up my shoes. Whether I was on the road or at home, I ran. Think, “Run, Forrest, Run.”
So what happened the weekend of the big event? The worst ice storm in decades hit the Dallas-Fort Worth region. No marathon. No redo, no rescheduling, no refunds. No marathon.
I was dejected, depressed and despondent. Had I just wasted those 20-mile long runs, the hill workout repeats and the laps around the track? The reality is I had a choice: I could wallow in self-pity (which I did for a week) or I could register for another marathon in the coming months (which I did as well).
In other words, I could waste my training or readjust my training.
Just like marathon training and racing, sometimes the employee training in your financial institution doesn’t go like you imagined. Like a disappointing race, sometimes your employees deliver disappointing results.
At that point, you have a choice: waste the training or readjust the training.
Here are some issues to consider when it comes to wasting or readjusting your training:
Don't start all over again—If you are not getting your desired results with sales training, it doesn’t mean you have to go back to the beginning. When I changed races, I didn’t start my training regimen from the beginning (I backed up the dates). Move past the basics and into the more advanced material your employees with which your employees are struggling. For example, they probably have “smile, handshake and make eye contact” down while they are struggling with “asking for the sale.”
Adjust your goals—Notice I said “adjust” not “lower.” Not meeting the desired numbers doesn’t mean you lower the threshold. I didn’t change my goal from running a full marathon to running a half marathon. But I did adjust when I was going to hit that goal. You might have to do the same with your employees and their sales totals.
Get support—As I mentioned above, I was crushed when the race was cancelled. But I talked to many other runners who were in the same situation. If you are giving your employees great training and they are not delivering your desired results, you are not alone. Talk to fellow colleagues, trainers, speakers and H.R. professionals. Find out what they are doing with their employees who have the tools but aren’t delivering.
Hold your employees accountable—Accountability is an underused word in training. We need to hold our sales trainers and sales training programs accountable for results. Or if you invested in leadership training at your bank or credit union, then your managers should become better leaders.
Training is an investment—and it should lead to results. But if you are not getting your desired outcomes, don’t waste your training. Just readjust it.