As we come up to mid-year, for many it’s time to evaluate marketing performance for the first half of 2019 and make any required mid-course corrections. However, even before you get around to conducting a formal analysis of your marketing programs, here are some possible telltale signs that can offer preliminary insights into your marketing performance YTD.
1. Your branch associates seem to be a little less busy. While branch traffic in general is declining, it is important to gauge traffic for all in-person and digital channels and to source the marketing activity generating this traffic.
Making branch associates an integral part of your campaign, clearly improves marketing performance. Typically marketing is responsible for driving traffic to branches and digital sales/service distribution channels. Member facing associates are charged with managing member expectations, providing education and account opening/transactions. Many digital marketing campaigns have dedicated landing pages with personalized content; why not utilize the same strategy with branch associates? It is possible to have segment focused signage and collateral materials that talk to the specific messaging presented in your broader market media.
If your branch staff does seem to have extra time on their hands you can always enlist them part-time into the marketing department. There are many tasks for which member facing associates can add value; outbound calling, personalized mail follow-ups and managing promotional events are just a few. This is also a great way to grow and further develop associates.
2. Prospective members seem to have you confused with the credit union down the street. If prospective members are getting you confused with your competition here are two possible reasons for this situation.
The first is that the brand map and messaging around your organization’s value proposition are not clear to your target audiences. Many CUs will validate/approve their brands and messaging by reviewing and approving only with internal audiences (associates) before rolling it out. To build a relevant brand it is important that you understand members; their financial needs and their expectations for your organization. Including members in the review process can provide many valuable insights before launching your brand. Branch surveys and focus groups are two quick and inexpensive ways to get member input.
The second is that you might not have put your brand into the marketplace in a visible enough manner. This is accomplished through choosing all the appropriate media (reach) and running your campaign enough to break through marketplace clutter (frequency) making an impression with prospective members.
3. Your primary advertising focus is on product and pricing rather than member education and financial solutions. Many times the marketing process starts with direction from the financial and risk management parts of the organization. Their focus is primarily on managing the assets of the organization and the product specific requirements for accomplishing this task.
Unfortunately many times this direction is taken by marketing and translated into product specific marketing. Successful marketing puts the member at the center of all marketing campaigns. Many credit unions will designate a “member advocate” as part of the marketing process. This associate reviews strategies, products and messaging solely from a member perspective. This process and informal focus groups with members can provide valuable input for creating successful marketing campaigns.
It’s important to remember that many of your members do not speak bank. Meaning they do not understand the specifics of products, but they clearly know what type of help they need managing their finances. It is critical that asset/liability management be translated into member needs and presented to members in the context of helping them solve their financial challenges.
4. You are still figuring out how to implement a member focused omni-channel marketing strategy. Many articles point to the marketing and revenue benefits of creating a seamless member experience. In order to create this experience all member touchpoints need to be working from the same set of member data and this data needs to reflect each member’s current product and service delivery preferences. That’s a pretty tall order. As an organization you can begin to make initial progress toward this goal with some basic data-driven member marketing utilizing existing data taken from your core system.
For example, identifying members who do not have a checking account but do have 3 or more non-checking accounts (or use a balance threshold instead of the number of accounts) can provide a target audience for cross-selling checking accounts. These members have a demonstrated affinity for your organization (3+ accounts) and so can be prime candidates for a checking account. Successfully building a fully functional data-driven marketing program is a longer term project; including data management/analysis and building the right culture to maximize results from this new tool. Gaining experience, like this example, along the way increases your chances for success.
5. Management wants to review marketing programs YTD, and a recommendation for marketing in the second half of 2019. Even if marketing is generating member growth and an increase in revenue; it’s important to understand what marketing components are responsible for these positive results. There are several ways to accomplish this but all involve the development of “learning goals” that need to be baked in to your campaign development process.
As you create marketing campaigns it is important to set expectations for the new account/revenue results to be generated from each campaign. Many CUs are beginning to incorporate test components into each campaign with the objective of learning more about how/why members react to various promotional efforts. Learning goals can include how members perceive your brand; respond to specific messaging, pricing, offer or even media. Typically 10% of your campaign should be set aside for testing. This means each campaign not only generates an increase in revenue, but it helps move your team along the learning curve to better understanding your members.
Remember, successful marketing is an iterative process and improvement is the result of being able to identify and react to internal and external signals. Strong marketing performance is based on a clear understanding of your members, their product and service delivery preferences and their perception of your brand and then being able to build campaigns that leverage this knowledge.