I’m often asked, “How much should we be spending on marketing?” I always reply with a three-word joke, “More. Much more!” The best answer to that question is not so much HOW MUCH you spend, but WHAT you are spending it on.

We’re in prime budgeting season. Every credit union or bank marketer is sharpening their pencils and crunching their numbers. We budget for business development, give-a-ways, annual meetings, promotions, websites and more. There are GLs for every possible line item.

But are they the right items? As you prepare your 2016 marketing budget, consider the following five areas that need concentration. Each item will generate the greatest return on those precious marketing resources.

Here are the five must haves for your 2016 marketing budget:

  • A Micro-Local Emphasis—You probably already know the importance of investing your dollars in local events and marketing. Doing business locally is certainly a trend. However, as you examine your 2016 budget make sure every single expense ties back to the micro-level. In other words, if something (billboard, event, etc.) does not take place within three miles of one your branches don’t do it. This ties back to a strategy I wrote in a post called “Own The Circle.
  • An Outside View—We all need feedback and an outsider’s perspective regarding our particular area of expertise. Marketing is no different. Marketing audits help maximize and grow your marketing results. A thorough marketing audit will give your financial institution strategic and tactical suggestions for immediate improvement.
  • A Millennial Focus—During almost every single strategic planning session we conducted this year, the topic of “getting younger,” “reaching the Millennial Generation” or “serving the youth,” was a topic of discussion. As noted by MarketMatch, according to a recent survey from Bank Director, only 40% of bank CEOs feel their bank has the appropriate products, services and methods of delivery to meet the needs and demands of Millennials. That Millennial train has left the station. If your marketing budget includes items (direct mail, Facebook, newsletter) that reach old people, reallocate those resources to avenues designed for the young (Instagram, Vine, video).
  • An Ambassador Emphasis—Everyone is in marketing. Even if you’ve spent significant time and money in developing a strong strategic brand with a great tagline and pinpointed target markets, that doesn’t matter if your staff does not live your brand. Your employees are not your staff; they are your brand ambassadors. Too many marketing efforts fall short because the staff is not engaged in marketing. Stop doing generic sales training and rather spend more resources in training your front-line staff to your brand.
  • A Digital Strategy—According to CU Grow, 71% of financial marketers do not have a defined digital marketing strategy and 70% believe their greatest challenge is lack of budget and people. Those numbers are staggering and point to a serious deficit in many marketing budgets. Your budget scales should already tip heavily to digital.

Those are a few suggestions. As you prepare your 2016 budget where are you spending more and where are you spending less?