I had the opportunity to visit with James Robert Lay recently. He is the CEO at Digital Growth Institute. Below is our Q&A. This is Part Two of a two-part story. Part One ran here Tuesday, October 3, 2017.

What are the top three things financial institutions should know when it comes to digital marketing?

Number one, the consumer has changed. We are now in a 30-60-90 day buying cycle.

Secondly, financial institutions must change. We recognize this can be scary. However, we have two choices as an industry: we can accept to change, or we can do nothing. If we do nothing then in 5-10 years we will be irrelevant.

Finally, this stuff takes time. Digital marketing is not a campaign, and it’s not a project. It’s a cultural shift in how you think. You have to execute and optimize. The thought process is to take marketing from being a cost center to a profit center. We have to hold marketing to a higher level. We have to give marketers time to think and not run from campaign to campaign.

How is digital marketing like a system?

Digital marketing is a system. It is a system of continuous optimization. We have to look at evergreen pieces that are focused on lead generation.

How do you turn your website from being a brochure to being a sales tool?

As I mentioned above, digital marketing is a system. It’s not about a website anymore—it’s about a digital growth engine. This includes digital advertising, a website that sells (lead generation), marketing automation and a sales enabler (moving to purchase and conversation).

Content is the fuel of this system. You have to assess your content. You can’t just copy and paste content from one to another. Too much of bank and credit union content is too feature focused and bullet-ridden. You must build a website on content.

In the ideal situation, the content is planned first, then the user experience then design. And your content should be focused on helping first, selling second.

What are two strategic steps every credit union or bank should take in the next 12-18 months?

Number one, do an assessment. We have a free tool on our website to help you do just that. Gain an understanding of where you are. Sometimes it comes down to awareness: we don’t know what we don’t know. A part of your assessment should include opening some accounts with some of your competitors (digitally) and see how that makes you feel. Once you’ve done your assessment, follow that up with action plans.

The second strategic step credit unions and banks should take is to shorten their vision. Only look at what we’re going to do in the next 12-18 months. Eighteen months is now the sweet spot. Six months is too short for planning for 36 months is too long.

What are two tactical steps every credit union or bank should employ in the next 12-18 months?

First, develop a consumer persona. Gain an understanding of where you’re going to gain growth. You can’t be all things to all people. And remember that 35% of your marketing budget should go towards digital.

Second, create a consumer journey map. You are the guide. Create a journey with workflows and landing pages. When it comes to digital, you have to close the gap and get a much better understanding of what is moving the needle. Quantify your data.

Learn more about Digital Growth Institute’s approach to bank and credit union digital marketing or call them at 415-579-3002.