2021 will be an incredibly challenging year for financial institutions. Many organizations experienced net income declines in 2020 and in a recent study 51% report that they expect similar performance this year. No doubt, the performance pressure is intense to grow, adapt, drive revenues and manage costs while deploying new strategies that will increase chances of success.
Marketing leaders are finding themselves in the cross-hairs of this growth performance scrutiny. There are organizational demands for adaptation, digital transformation, data analytics and strategy shifts. This is the catalyst for many organizations to reevaluate in-house talent and agency partners skilled for these new marketing results challenges.
There is a lot of movement in the industry with higher team turnover, agency switches and new leadership teams that are being built to lead and guide their financial institution through the challenges exposed in 2020. Some are realizing that branding and traditional marketing that worked before has lost its relevance and impact to move the bar.
If you’ve wondered whether your current agency is the right partner to lead you in these times—you’re not alone. A recent Ad Week study suggests 40% of CMOs may change agency partners in 2021.
Here are 5 reasons why financial institutions should consider an agency evaluation today.
- How well does your agency understand your financial institution’s business, products and growth strategies?
An effective agency partner knows your business, your market data and prospects, and industry extremely well. There is a lot to know and understand about the financial industry. Marketing leaders don’t have the time to educate their agency on the fundamentals of driving growth results. A litmus test to evaluating your agency’s business knowledge is whether you trust them to engage with your executive team and facilitate strategic marketing conversations.
- Is your agency enhancing data-driven insights about your members and markets and applying it to focused growth and relationship building strategies?
If your agency is not helping you leverage vital data analytics so that you know precisely who your key member segments are, their unique pain points, relationship profitability and prospect psychographics, then you’re falling behind in consumers’ expectations for greater personalization. 80% of people surveyed in an IBM study said they would be more likely to give their business to a company that offers them a personalized experience.
It’s imperative that marketing strategies be driven and refined by member and prospect data analytics to optimize performance. The speed to leverage your data to improve and enhance relationships and engagement is no longer an option. Unfortunately, analytics, digital media and targeting is not a finely-honed skill set for most agencies focused primarily on creative. This leads many financial marketers to spread budgets, strategies and tactics across a range of agencies that are often not aligned, integrated in their execution and not accountable to results.
- How is your agency helping you competitively position your brand to help you grow, thrive and win? Is your agency building distinction and constantly pushing your brand forward to attract new members, or are the ideas tired and unimaginative?
Building a brand that captivates, resonates and connects to peoples’ emotions are the ones that will flourish with greater engagement, higher Net Promoter Scores, higher employee satisfaction, greater retention and deepened relationships based on trust.
Uncovering and nurturing brand distinction and results takes an agency that can listen, confidently challenge long-held beliefs that may no longer be helping the organization grow, and create innovative approaches and emotional storytelling with breakthrough purpose-driven brands.
Your brand needs to inspire staff, attract new talent and stand out in the market in order to boost new member growth amidst fierce competition.
- Is your agency adept and capable at linking key strategies like member experience improvements, branding and digital marketing all the way through to omnichannel execution?
Agencies tend to specialize in one key area which may be brand strategy, digital, social, content, campaign execution, or creative design. It is not uncommon for a financial institution to have three or more agencies. This requires a lot of time to manage and facilitate the linking of your strategies across multiple partners so that there is cohesion. When this is not done well there is misalignment, execution is not cohesive and strategies begin to work against themselves providing less impact, results and accountability overall.
An agency that get all facets of your growth and business strategies can save you time and gain greater efficiencies while delivering optimal measurable results.
- Is your agency helping you track, measure and report performance to leaders?
The ability to track digital media, product x-selling, member acquisition, campaign ROI metrics and telling a story about what it all means is not in most agency’s wheelhouse. It’s not an option for marketing teams to run campaigns and initiatives without measuring performance, conversions and financial impact. Your agency partner needs to help you define KPIs for every campaign and initiative and measure success against those indicators and apply key insights and learning to future strategy and implementation improvements.
In the most optimal agency relationship, your agency partner can provide tools such as a software platform that takes away the manual tracking and provides data insights that are easy to read and understand and doesn’t require submitting a request to your Business Intelligence team and waiting weeks to receive it. The speed in which you can access and apply data insights, and execute against them to grow relationships is mission critical in deploying best-practice marketing today.
Your answers to these five questions will help you assess and evaluate your current agency’s ability to lead and guide you to greater performance and impact during a challenging economic time. If you are not satisfied with the assessment of your agency’s capabilities, then it’s likely time to conduct an agency search and explore what else is out there to lead and guide you into the future.