CEOs come and go.
     Branches open and close.
          Staff turnover.

The one constant … your most vital asset … is your brand.

That said, every single customer interaction from your parking lot, to your online presence, to your service culture, to your marketing materials is crucial.  It is all part of the overall brand experience.

There are no small jobs … BUUUUT…

This may tick some people off. And if you’re a past client, you may think I’m talking about you … I am … because we’ve all done it! But trust that this is written out of love. Maybe tough love … backed by more than 23 years of marketing experience on both sides of the desk, including:

  • Degree in Advertising from University of Kentucky
  • 7 years as an advertising agency account executive
  • 4 years as Marketing VP for a credit union
  • 12 years at MarketMatch

There are 7.6 billion souls on this Earth … and nearly all of them think they are writers and designers. They aren’t!

I’m here to tell you, from experience, the more you tinker with an ad, the more likely it is to suck. Reading this article may help you to have more marketing success, save you some sleepless nights and keep a rogue creative from clipping your car’s brake cables during their lunch hour.

This is what you need to know when approving your marketing materials.

The Basics

Before you look at anything else, your marketing must first fit the ABCs.

Does it have or fit:

  • Accuracy
  • Brand standards
  • Clear, Correct Call-to-action
  • Compliance

Too often, I’ve seen people want to jump right into being copywriters or art directors and completely ignore the ABCs.  If you trust your creative department, the ABCs may be the only thing you need to concern yourself with.

Next Level Approvals

Your creative team should have the next level locked down, but we’re all human. As you approve your marketing messages, confirm they are:

  • Target-specific
  • Impactful
  • Differentiating
  • Focused on one clear main message

That’s it! Your job is done. Beyond these eight steps, you get into tinker-territory.

~ The only person who can do it exactly how you would is you. There is not ONE right answer.
     ~ Monday morning quarterbacks sweat a hell of a lot less. Respect the original effort.
          ~ It is easier to criticize than to create. Keep criticism constructive.
               ~ This isn’t Hemingway. It’s not Shakespeare. It’s an ad for a checking account!

When You Tinker Too Much

Don’t get me wrong … everyone’s input and ideas are essential to quality marketing. Not only do I not believe in the “Not Invented Here Syndrome” … I fundamentally despise it to my core. Over the last two decades, I’ve launched countless campaigns that derived from the client-side of the desk. I’ve also suffered though many more that were tinkered to death.

Here are the dangers of tinkering.

Forcing It

The first round or two of changes often improves a message. But if you’re still tinkering with fundamental elements on versions four or five, you’re likely trying to force something to work that either was off in the first place or has strayed so far from the original concept that it no longer works.  Go back to the ABCs.


Ask yourself if you’re saying, “I don’t like…” or, “The target won’t like.”

Even if you, personally, fit the target profile, remember that no ad is written for an audience of one. Your marketing team should be skilled at getting in the heads of your target audience and talking in their voice, to their needs.

Don’t ask, “do I like it?” Ask, “does this speak to the target persona defined in the creative brief?”


While every customer experience feeds your brand … they are not all created equal.

Do you really need to spend 20 hours perfecting a message in your paper statements that 5 people will see?

Your creative team can focus more on the high-impact projects when you can let the low-impact approvals simply meet the ABCs. 


Too many changes are made for change’s sake. I fight myself on this every day.

Ask yourself what positive impact an edit will have on the piece. If it doesn’t significantly increase impact, it may significantly detract from it.  Let it go.


If you spend two weeks ironing out the perfect visual or writing the perfect headline, you lose two weeks of sales.

You can ALWAYS do better. There comes a time when you must say:

  • “Does it fit the ‘ABCs’?”
  • “Does it cover the ‘Next Level’?”
  • “Let’s get this sucker in the world and start selling stuff.”

We all want every marketing item to win awards and earn accolades, but they are created to sell product! As long as marketing sits on your computer, tinkering with round 18 of changes, it isn’t selling a damn thing.

On the flip side, every marketing item feeds your brand experience. There are no small jobs! The challenge is to know when to draw the line and let a project go.

For More Tips on Great Creative, Read:

Love this financial marketing blog?
Get the book! Click here to download “Aha Moments,” our
FREE ebook, chock-full of 80 short articles just like this.

In addition to being a strategic consultant for community banks and credit unions, MarketMatch also has nationally and internationally requested speakers. Contact us to bring our marketing ideas to your institution or next conference.

email me directly (click)
Follow us on Twitter @MarketMatch