Audit Your Advertising Budget and Adjust Your Strategy

by Lyle Heller, CU-VO

One of the Twitter users I follow had an interesting tweet this week.  “Are You Ready to Audit Your Advertising Budget and Adjust Your Strategy?”  The author, Brian Pasch, comments “As we approach the last quarter of 2011 it is a great time to stop and ask if YOUR advertising strategy is yielding the best results for the money.  We’ve been told to review our personal investment portfolios, but do you carefully inspect returns from marketing investments?”

While Brian’s comments are directed toward automotive sales, they are also applicable to credit unions.  His particular specialty is automotive industry SEO (Search Engine Optimization), so there are some differences from credit unions.  Nonetheless, the marketing goal for credit unions is virtually identical to the marketing goal for auto dealers; obtain the best return on the marketing investment.

In particular, he asserts the “digital” aspect of the marketing/advertising budget should approach 50%.  What a change that has taken place in the span of just a decade or so.  Most businesses would not have dreamed of such a ratio just a few years ago.  In fact, the question might have been, “what is digital media?”

Brian states “Traditional marketing should include radio, print, cable TV, direct mail, telemarketing, billboards, license plate tags, and newspaper.  Digital marketing should include website costs, third party leads,,, Google Adwords, Text Marketing, Social Media, Automotive SEO, CRM, Chat, and Reputation Management.”

As the planning season is arriving, I suspect most credit unions are primarily thinking in terms of amounts and proportions of budget for print, radio/TV, and similar “traditional” media.  (License plate tags are not a traditional credit union approach!).

His suggestions for “digital” media include interesting ideas.  For example, third party leads is a topic I have not generally heard mentioned by credit unions.  Social media for credit unions is an increasingly discussed approach.  Twitter is appearing on more and more credit union websites along with Facebook and Linkedin.

Focusing on Twitter, the number of credit unions using this has grown rapidly from about 800 a year ago to perhaps 1,900 now.  Most credit union “social media” efforts are unfunded “labors of love”.  So it would seem that proposing a marketing budget with 50% allocated to digital media may be heretical.

Brian’s illustration of the “ratio of cars sold” versus number of unique visitors is interesting.  His example illustrates percentages from 1.2% to 3.8% of unique visitors per month ranging from 2,370 to 11,418.)

How many unique visitors does your credit union have in a given time period?  Does your credit union add four new members for every 100 website visitors?  Is that percentage high or low and is it increasing or decreasing?  Of course, a credit union needs a mix of results that not only includes new members, but members using credit union services to provide overall success.

Brian’s sample data depicts 230 cars sold in a month with a total advertising budget of $126,730 for an advertising investment of $551 per car sold.  Potential results of altering the mix can be evaluated.  Suppose the ratio of sales per unique visitor increased only slightly?  Suppose advertising costs were reduced by greater use of digital media?  Each of these suppositions is becoming more likely as expansion of the Internet continues.

The assertion that automotive marketing should be an equal proportion of digital and “traditional” efforts is thought provoking.

Does your credit union approach this?  Does your credit union know the contribution of various marketing approaches?  Has your credit union analyzed its marketing and advertising budget to determine the results obtained?

Brian offers a free template for automotive marketers to test his suggestions.  You should know that CU-VO also has a free template tailored to credit unions to evaluate various possibilities for upcoming marketing plans.

This series is authored by Lyle Heller of CU-VO.  Mr. Heller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and a Masters of Business Administration in Production and Operations from Marquette University.  Mr. Heller served as Executive Vice President of two CUNA organizations.  He has lectured at the university level in Quantitative Decision Analysis, Simulation, Systems Analysis, and Marketing for more than ten years.  Additionally, he was a top-ranked winner of the 2005 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan contest.  CU-VO is a strategic partner of CUNA Strategic Services to provide video overlays to credit unions.  Learn more at and follow CUVOTweet.

Lyle Heller

Lyle Heller

Lyle Heller is the Vice President at CU-VO. Mr. Heller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from University of Wisconsin - Whitewater and a Masters of Business Administration ... Web: Details