What CEOs Want From CMOs

What CEOs Want From CMOs

What do credit union chief executive officers want from their chief marketing officers (or the person leading their marketing efforts)? That is a burning question Jeff Rendel sought to answer. He presented his findings at CUNA’s Marketing & Business Development Certification School (which if you have not attended is a “must do” event for every credit union marketer or business development person).

As part of his research, Rendel received over 400 responses from credit union CEOs.

“Talent is overrated,” Rendel said. “The responses showed that 61% of CEOs are not satisfied with the innovation shown by their CMOs and 53% of CEOs feel they aren’t getting the strategic thinking they need from marketing.” He went on to note that 47% of CEOs are unsatisfied with the level of agility demonstrated by their CMOs and 51% of CEOs are looking for better member insights from their marketing leaders.

So what do CEOs really want from their marketing team? According to Rendel, four traits were paramount:

  • Innovation
  • Strategic thinking
  • Agility
  • Member insights

“Marketers must keep up with the pace of change,” Rendel noted. “What impresses the CEO is when the marketer thinks more strategically and delivers bottom line results.”

Through his interviews and responses, Rendel offered the new CMO job description:

  • Member intelligence expertise—know what members want
  • Help drive the business strategy—have strategic thinking across all disciplines
  • Forward thinker—ability to create the future
  • Teamwork—collaborate and involve other departments
  • Agility—keep an open mind and respond quickly
  • Business growth—have an ability to generate and grow profitable sales revenue

Rendel added the following list of items that REALLY impress the CEO:

  • Delivering the impossible
  • Leading change; being uncomfortable with comfortable
  • Aligning marketing with strategy
  • Leveraging digital and data for growth

Impressing your CEO is not about designing a really cool looking brochure or newsletter. It’s about thinking strategically, focusing on the member and delivering results.

Setting Up Listening Posts For Your Marketing

Setting Up Listening Posts For Your Marketing

“Can you hear me now?” is a question made popular by Verizon several years ago. Now their competitor Sprint is making fun of and using Verizon’s former spokesperson in a new marketing campaign.

But are you hearing what consumers are saying about your credit union or bank’s marketing? In his book Content, Inc., author Joe Puluzzi says, “Listening posts are all about getting as much feedback from a variety of sources as possible so you can find the truth.” Marketing is not just about sending. It’s about receiving. It’s about listening.

Want to improve your marketing’s effectiveness? Then try listening more to consumers.

Here are three ways to setup listing posts when it comes to your marketing:

  • Surveys—Ask your members or customers what they really think about you. They’ll tell you. But watch “bland” and “boring” questions. When helping our clients develop their brand plans, we often survey consumers to get a feel for how they truly perceive their financial institution. One of our favorite questions to ask is, “If ABC Credit Union or Bank were a car, what type of car would it be?” That is a more emotional question and elicits deeper level insights into how they really perceive you.
  • Conversations—One of the absolute best ways to discover what people think about your marketing is simply to talk with them. Sometimes the higher we move up the organizational chart the farther away we get from the consumers we serve. So when I was an executive at a financial institution I would routinely visit the branches and just chat with people who were coming in. Ask them what they think about your website, whey they bank with you and what matters to them in financial services. It’s amazing the insights you can learn from a short five-minute conversation.
  • Social media—Are your people saying anything about you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social channels? Granted, many folks use social media to vent their anger. However, reviewing your Facebook account to see likes, comments, complaints, etc. offers a trove of information. Do people love you, hate you or even worse are they indifferent about you? Remember, social media is “social.” If you are only using social media to distribute information you are missing an opportunity.

And what happens if after you establish these listening posts you hear absolutely nothing? Crickets. Silence. That actually tells you quite a bit as well. It tells you no one is hearing your marketing messages. Probably because it is too boring. Remember, no one talks about a boring business.

And no one succeeds with their marketing unless they are listening.

Note: This article originally ran October 4, 2016.

Training and Brand: When Your Employee Training Misses Its Mark

Training and Brand: When Your Employee Training Misses Its Mark

Increasingly, banks and credit unions recognize the importance of regular and deeper-level consumer engagement training for their employees. And rightly so – as competition in financial products and services only deepens, banks and credit unions that thrive are those which focus to a greater extent on keeping their employees highly-trained and in-tune with their brands. Brand training is critical.

However, banks and credit unions sometimes miss the mark when it comes to their employee training format. All too often, they focus employee training programs on specifically how employees should do their jobs while glossing over the vitally important element why employees should do their jobs.

Generally, training to the how of a job is relatively simple. You train to a task (such as teller drawer procedures, compliance paperwork, lending documentation, etc.) over and over to such an extent that it becomes second nature to the employee. This isn’t a bad thing. Obviously, to be successful, employees must know how to do their jobs. However, when it comes to differentiating from the competition and establishing strong brand propositions, banks and credit unions must also teach your employees why they are doing their jobs. Many people can balance a drawer or process loans. What can your bank or credit union do that they can’t? The why answers this question.

The why goes directly back to brand. Why does the teller balance his drawer? Why does the compliance officer review countless documents? Why does the loan specialist meticulously collect information as part of the decision process? The surface-level answer goes directly back to the how of job performance. But the deeper consumer engagement level answer speaks to the why of job performance and brand building.

Training employees why they do their job (as it relates to the brand) gives them a much deeper knowledge and understanding about the importance of their role inside the credit union, regardless of position. It also grows their confidence and empowers them in their positions to make decisions, interact with consumers and grow the brand organically via authentic consumer interactions.

Learning how to do a job is important. A farmer wouldn’t be very successful if he didn’t know, for example, at what depth to plant certain kinds of seeds. However, a deeper level learning as to why you do a job is even more important. The same farmer carries the knowledge that he is feeding his family, the larger community and maybe even the world. The same applies for your bank or credit union. How is good, but why is better. And the why is your brand.

Note: This post originally ran September 1, 2016.

Budget Priorities for 2018

Budget Priorities for 2018

Fall is a love/hate relationship for credit union and banking marketers. Love football season—hate budget season. Love falling leaves—hate falling budgets. Love cool temperatures—hate hot budget conversations.

Yes, it is indeed budget season in many credit unions and banks. A time for heated discussion on the financial instruction’s bottom line. Forget strategic planning—the true strategic priorities are often determined in the budget season and not the planning season. This is when you decide if you have the resolve (budget) to meet those strategic objectives you’ve set.

There are a number of items your credit union or bank should consider as you carefully make your 2018 plans.

Here are a few:

  • Your marketing audit—We audit everything in the financial services industry. But one area that is sometimes skipped in auditing is marketing. A marketing audit will review all your pieces for consistency while also giving you strategic and tactical ideas. As one of our clients said recently of the marketing audit, “It gave us great feedback on where we need to focus our energies to grow better and serve our members. Having a fresh set of eyes on all your materials is a great way to better your brand.” Don’t let 2018 pass you by without reviewing your marketing.
  • Your journey map—What is it like for someone to do business with your financial institution? Have you actually taken the time to map both the process and the experience? And then have you trained your employees to that experience? In other words, you need to operationalize your brand. Engagement training impacts the bottom line so significantly that many institutions are replacing sales & service training with engagement training. Don’t let 2018 pass you by without investing in your journey.
  • Your digital efforts—Traditional marketing is not just changing; it HAS changed. Direct mail, billboards, TV, radio and even statement inserts are all going the way of the dinosaur. In a recent conversation I had with James Robert Lay, the CEO of the Digital Growth Institute, he noted that about 35% of all your marketing budget at a credit union or bank should be devoted to digital marketing. Don’t let 2018 pass you by without increasing your digital marketing spend.
  • Your brand—Branding touches everything. As Ray Davis, former CEO of Umpqua Bank said in Leading for Growth, “If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know your brand is just about the most valuable marketing asset you’ve got.” If your brand truly is your most valuable asset, then how are you investing in that asset? Two practical steps you can take include developing a brand plan and conducting brand training for your employees. Don’t let 2018 pass you by without leading your brand.

Your budget conveys your priorities. You will notice a theme for 2018: your priorities should include your marketing, your experience, your technology and your brand. If you spend your dollars in those areas, you will reap the return.

Your Brand: Like It, Love It, Want Some More of It?

Your Brand: Like It, Love It, Want Some More of It?

If you’re a country music fan, you might recall the 1995 Tim McGraw hit “I like It, I Love It.” The repeated refrain goes on to say “… but I like it, I love it, I want some more of it.” How does this apply to your brand? In many ways.

If your consumers like your brand, that’s a good thing. For a start. If consumers like your brand, there’s a pretty good chance they might come back again.

If your consumers love your brand, that’s even better. But you’re just getting the engine started. If consumers love your brand, there’s a pretty good chance they will not only come back to you again but also choose you over your many competitors.

If your consumers want some more of your brand, you’ve struck branding gold. If consumers want some more of your brand, they’re much more likely to be thoroughly dedicated to it, saturated with its messages and prone to spreading the good word about it to their friends and family. This is the pinnacle for which your brand should aspire.

And that’s really where you want your brand to be. Liking it is a good thing. But simply liking something is ephemeral, fleeting and shallow. Loving it is better but still not deep enough. To establish a firm brand hold on your consumers, you must devote the time, energy and resources to move the needle to “want some more of it.”