It’s budget-planning season. That means many of us are spending our days pouring over spreadsheets, trying to make the numbers make sense, and making the case for squeezing a few dollars into (or out of) our budgets. As the season moves on, the budget gets tighter, and our days become consumed by numbers while more “strategic” thoughts and ideas fade into the background.
We’ve done this dance before. Every planning season begins with ideas for big programs and changes in the year ahead. Every planning season ends with a tightly sealed budget, a small handful of usually regulatory-driven “must do projects”, and a slew of now hazy and distant recollections of grander ideas we once had.
Depressing? It doesn’t have to be.
If you pause to view the year gone by, you’ll see many pockets of inspiration; places where financial institutions committed themselves to doing at least one memorable thing in 2015 to help them stand out from their competitors — one thing to win the hearts, minds, and wallets of members and employees.
Expensive? Not necessarily. All-consuming? Not more than what one might call a healthy injection of “drinking the kool-aid team spirit”. Complicated? Not really, especially with the many door-opening options we have nowadays for outsourcing and partnering to get the work done.
Credit unions should make it a part of their planning process to identify at least one signature event that they will commit to for the year ahead, and then make and re-make that commitment at the beginning, middle, and end of the budget-planning cycle (with the same vigor each time!).
Stuck for ideas on your signature event for 2016? Here are a few to consider:
- Build a new product. When was the last time you launched a new product to help you steal market share and reward members handsomely for good banking behaviors? Before you begin to tremble at the thought of systems work, explore your options for off-core solutions (they are out there and ready to go!). Then plan, execute, and measure methodically as your year unfolds.
- Go deep on a marketing campaign. We all have an important product line that has been neglected, and is therefore fertile ground for an intense, sustained, measurable marketing effort. And, as a credit union, you are sitting on a treasure-trove of data that can be leveraged to improve performance. So don’t let the thought of “big data” overwhelm you (as it does me). Think of your data as “little data” — just a few key pieces of member banking-behavior data can unlock the door to a successful marketing campaign, driving your account utilization and cross-sell metrics upwards.
- Implement or enhance a channel. Maybe this is the year to make a hero out of your “e” channels. Start simple – how about getting all (okay…. almost all) of your checking accounts onto estatements? Or establishing a well-monitored and value-adding Facebook page and Twitter account? Not enough resources? There is a virtual parade of outsourced options marching by your door, ready to assist you with these efforts!
Whatever you decide to do for your “signature event” in 2016, PROMOTE IT! Promote it externally – low cost channels (press releases, online, social media) can be leveraged to great advantage. And promote it internally — your colleagues’ spirits and morale will be the greatest benefactor of your efforts. Then remind them throughout the year, AND at the end of the year, that THIS was the year we did __(fill in the blank for 2016)__!