If Your Bank or Credit Union is Comfortable, That’s a Bad Sign

If Your Bank or Credit Union is Comfortable, That’s a Bad Sign

It’s all too easy to become overly-accustomed to the rigmarole of the daily grind. This is not unique to banks and credit unions. It applies to pretty much every walk of life. Emails, voicemails, meetings, travel, social media, etc. Anybody — indeed, any retail entity — can fall victim to complacency.

If your bank or credit union is comfortable, that’s a bad sign. That means that you are more than likely complacent with the way things are. If the dizzying rate of change in how consumers handle their personal and business financial products and services is any indication, we can ill-afford to allow this type of complacency in our financial institutions.

For example, when’s the last time you felt challenged by a competitor? When’s the last time you analyzed your core products and service offers? When’s the last time you had a true outsider perspective on the way you advertise and work with your consumers?

If you’re having a hard time answering any of these questions, it’s a good time to consider a marketing audit. Marketing audits delve deeply into the cultural DNA of your financial institution and help analyze an enormous amount of data, from your collateral marketing materials to how your competitors treat consumers to key demographic information about your marketplace.

A marketing audit also offers a wealth of data, both strategic and tactical, that your bank or credit union can then use to fine-tune its approach to financial products and services. This offers a treasure-trove of actionable business intelligence.

If your bank or credit union is comfortable, it’s definitely time to analyze your marketplace position. Being too comfortable can, in certain situations, be a sign of sluggishness and unresponsiveness to change. The hyper-saturated financial services and products marketplace simply does not allow for this kind of complacency. A marketing audit can help combat that.

Three Signs Your Strategic Plan Is In Trouble

Three Signs Your Strategic Plan Is In Trouble

If you’re like most other banks and credit unions, you invest a great deal of time, energy and resources in your strategic planning session. And this makes sense. After all, you are committing your financial institution to a particular course of action over a specified time frame (typically, 3 to 5 years).

You have the strategic planning meeting, everyone contributes his or her own ideas and thoughts, maybe a little “cussing and discussing” goes on (not necessarily a bad thing) and, bingo — you have a strategic plan. But how can you tell after the actual session when your strategic plan is in trouble?

Consider the three following “trouble indicators” for your strategic plan.

One — after completion, your strategic plan sits on the shelf for several months. Initial action on your strategic plan after the planning session is critical. This is prime time momentum that you risk losing if everyone goes back to his or her daily routine after the session. Work hard to ensure your team recommits itself to the strategic plan on a regular basis and doesn’t lose the enthusiasm of the session itself.

Two – subsequent strategic planning review meetings are highlighted by the words “we’re still working on that,” “we’re still gathering information” or “this item is still TBD.” You obviously cannot complete all your strategic initiatives in the first quarter (or even year) after your planning session. But delaying for the sake of delaying is deadly for your plan. Use your strategic planning review meetings to highlight concrete achievements made towards your state’s strategic goals.

Three — turnover that impacts key drivers of your strategic plan. Turnover is going to happen, and there’s not too much we can generally do about it. But if you notice the turnover affects key drivers of your strategic plan (in other words, the primary people responsible for pushing it forward) it’s time to take a look at revising the plan. You may need to assign new people to certain strategic planning initiatives or consider shifting the timeframe if a change in personnel leaves the plan shorthanded.

Banks and credit unions enter the strategic planning process with the best intentions. However, the well-known old adage tells us where best intentions generally lead. By taking a look at a few simple strategic planning “trouble indicators,” you can begin to approach a strategic plan from a different angle that empowers it to overcome potential future challenges.

How Much Do Consumers Really Know About Your Products?

How Much Do Consumers Really Know About Your Products?

You (and hopefully your employees) know your products and services. The multiple checking accounts, the various loan offerings, the numerous CDs and investments. But what about your current customers or members? How much do they really know about your products? The answer is “probably not much.”

How many times have you heard someone say, “I didn’t know you guys offered __________?” Insert your favorite product into that blank: mortgages, GAP insurance, business services, free ATMs, leases, investments, etc.

Think about this issue as a math problem. On a scale of one percent (low—they know nothing) to 100 percent (high—they know everything), what is the average percentage your existing customers or members know that you offer? We’re talking about people who already actually do business with you. They already have something with you (a savings account, a checking account, an auto loan, etc.).

Is it 20%, 30%, higher or lower? My guess is it is probably somewhere between 20 to 30 percent. But think about that: that means the average person doing business with you today probably doesn’t know 70% of all the great financial products and services you have.

Let’s take another step with that math problem. What would happen to your bottom line if you reduced that knowledge gap from 70% to 50%? In other words, what would happen if all your current consumers knew at least half of what you offered?

The answer: they would do more business with you!

So what is the solution to this simple math problem? You have to close the awareness gap.

There are two “levels” to closing this awareness gap: the personal level and the mass level.

The personal level refers to getting your employees to inform current members/customers in their one on one personal interactions. Every time they have a conversation or are doing a transaction, simply say something like “I’m glad you have your checking account with us. Do you also know we also offer great investment services?” or “Thanks for cashing your check. I noticed you’re driving a new vehicle. Do you know we have great rates and we can probably save you money if you finance it with us?”

The mass level refers to communication efforts on a larger scale. These include your e-mails, your website, your newsletters and any other mediums and mechanisms you use. It can take the simple form of a product spotlight, a testimonial from someone currently using a product or the top benefits from a particular service.

Marketing is not rocket science. In many cases, it is just getting your existing members or customers to become more aware of what you can do for them.

You can grow your credit union or bank exponentially in 2017 not by adding one single new consumer, but rather getting your entire existing core base to get one more new product or service.

Sales and Onboarding Failure

Sales and Onboarding Failure

I recently received an e-mail from a salesperson at a company whose product I was test driving. I had a two-week trial period, then converted the account to permanent usage. Two days later, I received an e-mail from someone at the company asking how the trial went. He also asked what it would take to convince me to use their product. At least one person at that company had not gotten the memo that I was already a customer. I generally delete sales e-mails, but this presents an important teaching moment that I felt compelled to share.

I deleted the e-mail and brushed it off as a hiccup in their process, but not everyone does that. In fact, the stakes are higher when consumers already have a standing relationship with an organization, like their bank or credit union, for example. How do you think your customers or members would react if you sent them a letter or e-mail inviting them to take advantage of a product they already have? They might brush it off, or they might:

  1. A) get irritated that you are spending time and money on something irrelevant
  2. B) get offended by your lack of attention to their relationship with you, or
  3. C) question your financial institution’s competency

Following up with your customers or members is a critical piece of your marketing and sales strategy. If you don’t have an onboarding process in place to start communicating with your customers or members aggressively as soon as they join, you are missing an opportunity to catch them while they are really paying attention. It’s almost like the honeymoon phase of a marriage. People are more willing to listen and get excited about a relationship in the early stages.

But poor onboarding is just as bad, if not worse, than no onboarding at all. When someone is establishing a relationship with your financial institution, it’s offensive to them when you don’t know what products and services they use. It tells them you are more interested in the sale than the relationship. It makes them feel like just another customer or member. That is the exact opposite of how you want them to feel.

Don’t let this happen to you. If you have an onboarding process, avoid complacency. Always look for ways to make it as streamlined and non-offensive to your database as possible. If you don’t have an onboarding process, get one. When executed correctly, it becomes an effective relationship-building tool.

Three Reasons to Conduct a Marketing Audit

Three Reasons to Conduct a Marketing Audit

This blog entry originally appeared on Deluxe.com

In the financial services industry, the mere mention of an audit makes some people nervous. Often, they start second guessing themselves. What if we made a mistake? What if we’re not as stable as we thought we were? What if they tell us we need help?

Here’s the question they should be asking. If you have the chance to be even better than you already are, don’t you want to take advantage of that opportunity?

Financial institutions conduct financial audits all the time, but how many conduct marketing audits? Aside from the ones we work with, very few actually do this.

A marketing audit, as the name implies, is an examination of your financial institution’s marketing collateral, website, social media presence, marketing budget, marketing calendar and marketing strategies. Most of the time, a thorough marketing audit also includes mystery shops of not only your branches, but of your competition’s branches, as well. A marketing audit is a unique opportunity to have an objective third party identify the strengths and weaknesses in your marketing initiatives and observe whether or not what you advertise (i.e. convenience, friendly service, etc.) is actually being executed at your branches. If your financial institution has never been through a marketing audit, here are three reasons you should consider it.

  1. A marketing audit helps your marketing budget

Every marketing budget has a limit, and most marketers say theirs is too small. A marketing audit identifies how much you should be spending and the most effective ways to spend it. If something isn’t working, why should you continue spending money doing it? On the flip side, you may have a campaign you’d like to do more often, but you don’t have the budget to do it. Stopping what isn’t effective clears up more money to do what is effective.

  1. A marketing audit identifies brand gaps

Your job as a marketer is to promote your financial institution and generate interest in consumers. That all becomes pointless if consumers do not receive the service in your branches and call center that you promise in your marketing collateral. That’s a brand gap. You could have the most attractive, attention-getting marketing collateral in the industry, but have nobody to reinforce that in other parts of your financial institution. A marketing audit identifies those brand gaps and provides recommendations on how to close them so your entire organization is more efficient.

  1. A marketing audit gives you permission to say no

It’s no secret that marketing and other parts of the organization don’t always agree. Have you ever had a CEO or other C-suite executive make you do a campaign that didn’t fit with your brand or your target audience? A marketing audit puts the tools in your arsenal to demonstrate why that person’s idea is not a wise marketing investment. Believe it or not, most executives are more willing to listen to your marketing department after they pay a third party to review your marketing efforts.

Marketing defines how consumers view your financial institution. A marketing audit will analyze the effectiveness of those efforts and help you maximize and grow your marketing results.