It’s that time of year again! Budgeting has been completed and for many of us, that means we’re finding out what the “final number” is going to be. How much money do we have to invest in marketing our financial institution for the year to come?

I’ve watched this process take place year after year, with no one year being similar to the next. Based on the strategic plan of the bank or credit union, there are always items on the chopping block, things being kept and new ideas to fund in the next year.

The real question is: how is your institution approaching marketing budgets in 2019?

I and my colleagues have long argued that marketing needs to demand a seat at the decision-making table during budgeting time to make a case for the highest budget possible. After all, if marketing isn’t talking about your brand and what the organization is doing, who is? By having marketing at the table, the discussion of value and what needs to happen for continued growth is able to take place.

Which brings me to my next point. Value. How much does your bank or credit union really, truly, value strategic marketing? I make a point to say strategic marketing here. Because strategic marketing implies that marketing is much more than just prettying things up and whipping out the glitter when other departments just want to post a plain-old sign. Strategic marketing implies results-oriented marketing.

In my opinion, organizations that value strategic marketing see themselves differently. It’s a top-to-bottom approach of understanding that marketing is an investment to be made, not a cost center to bill. Valuing strategic marketing means that certain things are understood.

  • Investment costs money. If marketing is valued, every level of management understands that moving from good to great means spending more in the short-term for long-term gain. It also means understanding that the marketing department does more than simply place advertisements.
  • Marketing produces results. Inside institutions that value strategic marketing, marketing directors don’t have to ask questions like “How do I communicate ‘XYZ’ with my CEO?” Because strategic marketing means that results are produced and reported on. The value of the tactic is understood in bottom line speak.
  • Greatness exists in your four walls. Banks and credit unions that understand their competition and market the best understand just how valuable their own organization is. There are no longing stares to what everyone else is doing and wishing you could do it that good. Valuing strategic marketing means your organization moves the ball in that direction to become even better.
  • Mistakes happen. Nobody’s perfect. And just because there’s an excellent strategy in place doesn’t mean that the marketing department “read the room” correctly. The key to making mistakes is to make them fast and course-correct even faster. It does not mean shutting off the tap of investment or cutting a tactic just because it didn’t work the first time

The question that needs to be asked now is: what side of the fence is your bank or credit union on and where do you want to be? How much does the organization as a whole value and respect marketing? What will it take to move from good to great marketing?

Good luck and happy marketing!