In recent posts I’ve talked about Four Branding Myths and Four Strategic Planning Myths. While we referenced Big Foot, the Loch Ness Monster and Elvis, we also “myth busted” a few common assumptions when it comes to branding and strategic planning.

The same holds true for marketing. There are many myths, half-truths and false assumptions when it comes to the important role marketing plays in the growth of your financial institution. It’s critical that executives don’t fall for these marketing folk tales.

And just like the Myth Busters had to set us straight about if it’s possible to cook lasagna using a dishwasher as an oven, it’s time to bust a few myths when it comes to marketing.

Here are four marketing myths:

  • Marketing is advertising—When you say the word “marketing” most people immediately think of their favorite TV commercials, radio spots or billboards. The reality, however, is that those are just advertising mediums. Marketing is WAY more than just advertising. As Alex Goldfayn says in The Revenue Growth Habit, marketing is “systematically communicating your value to people who can buy from you.” The reality is marketing is goes beyond what you say in your ads.
  • Marketing is a department—Who is in marketing? The answer to that question should always be “everyone.” Every single person at your credit union or bank is in marketing. Yes, even your collectors and accounting personnel. In fact, your staff are not just employees; they are brand ambassadors. The reality is marketing touches everything.
  • Marketing is an expense—Ask any CFO what marketing is and the vast majority will say it’s an expense. As John Wanamaker once family said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Therefore, marketing should provide a return on investment for those marketing dollars. If you try and cut marketing to save your budget dollars this year, what are the long-term impacts of that down the road? The reality is marketing is an investment.
  • Marketing is just about creativity and having fun—In one of my favorite Dilbert cartoons, his boss family says “You will now be working in the marketing department until further notice.” Then on the next frame you see the doorway to marketing, which says “Marketing Department: Two Drink Minimum.” Unfortunately, that is the perception of most marketing departments: it is just about creating pretty pieces and having a good time. However, marketing is more and more about data and analytics. To succeed in reaching consumers today, you must mine all the data you have on them. The reality is marketing is just as much science as art.

Obviously, there are key aspects to marketing that involve advertising, marketing personnel, money and creativity. However, to believe those things are the keys to marketing is to believe in a marketing myth.

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