This is more of a “back to the basics” approach to a blog post than I’ve written in quite awhile. I’ve been looking at a lot of numbers recently, trying to pluck some strategies out to help prospective clients with flattening (or already flat) growth.

Flat growth is like a slap in the face to a financial institution that is used to seeing regular, steady, year-over-year growth. I would even go as far as to argue that flat growth is more of a burden than negative growth. It makes it harder to pinpoint what, exactly, you’re doing wrong and find a corrective course of action.

Whenever encountering growth questions and issues, there are usually key culprits that pop up to take a look at. Here are my four “back to basics” for combating flat growth at your bank or credit union:

  1. Evaluate your market. There’s a lot to this one, but the basic synopsis is: have you appropriately penetrated and/or saturated your market? Do you have room left to grow based on where you are trying to acquire new business? And if you do have room left to grow, is it likely that you will be able to gain enough traction to see the needle move?
  2. Hyper-target your segments. Identify the segments that either a) stand to give you the most growth, or, b) double down on your loyal customers and work to keep them loyal. The goal with this strategy is to enhance share of wallet in the way that is most efficient for your organization.
  3. Build brand awareness. Many times, flat growth turns out to be a result of taking your proverbial foot off of the brand awareness pedal. Running a brand awareness study to find out where you rank in the market is an easy way to judge whether or not you need to spend more time on this strategy. Most often, for most community banks and credit unions, a lack of brand awareness (or smaller brand awareness in certain markets) stalls growth. Brand campaigns can correct this.
  4. Don’t overthink the situation. Sometimes, it’s not so much what you’re not doing now as what you stopped doing that was working. Step back and take a look at peak growth years and compare your marketing, internal processes, brand awareness, market, etc. then versus now. Trying to level the playing field to where “all else being equal” exists can simplify the strategy moving forward.

What are you doing right now to keep growth moving in a positive direction? What have you done in the past to combat flat (or negative) growth? Leave a comment!