The beginning of a fresh new year is always exciting. You’re starting on new projects after taking the time to evaluate the successes of 2018, looking at the potential for the next twelve months, and meticulously planning out your moves for 2019. Armed with a carefully crafted marketing plan, it’s easy to picture all of the successful marketing campaigns and initiatives on your horizon.
Keeping that momentum going a month from now, a quarter from now, and to the end of the year, however, is another story.
Marketing plans are meant to be a guide and tool that you actively use, not something that sits on your computer or in a desk drawer. If you found yourself pulling out a dusty plan a couple months ago thinking “oh right, I meant to accomplish that this year,” or even “wow, that was a great idea, too bad it slipped through the cracks,” then recommit with these tips for making the most of your plan.
- Have a clear strategy and give it some time.
Especially when it comes to long-term branding and growth, it takes time to shape the perceptions of your audience and build your membership. We like to see measurable results immediately, but even a basic campaign takes time to sink in and generate action. As hard as it can be to stay patient, give all of your ideas some time before you make changes.
The larger the initiative, the longer it can take to see results. For example, educating a new market on their eligibility means you’re working to build basic brand recognition, describe your value proposition, and develop enough trust so potential members contact you. That will take a number of activities and some time to accomplish.
Comparatively, getting your existing online banking members to download your mobile app should be easier and quicker since you’ve already built rapport and your audience has an understanding of how to do business with you. Consider the scope and set your expectations accordingly so you can allow things to run their course.
Additionally, maintaining a deep knowledge of your audience, your brand, and your goals will help you stay focused. If you find yourself tempted to throw in something new or bail on something that isn’t yet working, use those three pieces to determine if the change you’re considering is really in alignment with your bigger picture.
- Set specific times to review, reflect and update.
While you should give all of your original plans adequate time to produce results, that doesn’t mean the plan needs to be inflexible. If you never make a single change, your plan can become unrealistic to execute or it won’t be able to accommodate unforeseen events.
Keep your plan within easy reach all year long and set regular intervals for review – at least quarterly. If you haven’t already done so, determine a timeline for evaluating each of your goals and the action steps you identified. Like mentioned earlier, quick campaigns could be reviewed quickly (each month), whereas longer initiatives need more time to develop before they’re ready for evaluation (each quarter).
Put reminders on your calendar and stick to them. Consult with other people in your credit union and include invested parties during your reviews. That will allow for unique perspectives and you can keep each other accountable.
When it’s time for evaluation, get all of your data together so you have the full picture of your progress to-date. Take note of major changes that have happened with your credit union, with your partners, and with your products or services.
You may find that you need to add outreach activities to boost the efficacy of your awareness marketing. Alternatively, you may find that a project can be completed early, giving you some freedom to move up another project or add a new one. Use all of your knowledge to determine where updates or additions would help accomplish your goals.
Finally, be realistic with yourself. Did you bite off more than you can chew? Maybe something big came up, like the need to update your website or find a new vendor for a major service. Whether you just got overambitious or you had unforeseen events put on your plate, it’s ok to extend deadlines or even reschedule projects if it results in success and being consistent with your base marketing messages and ongoing programs.
- Keep an eye on competition and the market
In addition to keeping track of what’s going on within your credit union, also look for changes with your competition and in the marketplace.
Opportunities and threats pop up throughout the year, so you’re never going to have perfect information during planning sessions. If you don’t make it a point to stay current, you may miss your window to address them.
When you hear that the community bank down the street is merging with a regional bank, or that your vendor is launching a new service your members have been asking about, add it to the discussion list for your next review. Depending on when it impacts you, your competition, or the marketplace, you may need to change your plan to take advantage of the opportunity or address the threat.
The same thing can be said for changes in consumer behavior. It’s always wise to regularly get input from the people who are your best-fit members. You can do this with surveys, by keeping tabs on conversations on social media or in forums, and through the news. Some behaviors change gradually over time, but others can happen quickly if there is a shock or major event that dramatically affects people’s lives.
As an example, consider the public’s opinion after learning about major data breaches, when an employer moves out of, or into, a town, or when natural disasters strike. These changes could alter your member’s financial needs, the way they want to do business with you, or the types of products and services they desire. Again, you can be flexible in your plan and accommodate relevant action steps for your marketing.
Take advantage of the excitement and momentum you have right now for your 2019 marketing plan.
When you keep your plan in working order, it’s easier to stick to it for the entire year and you can continue to be excited about what you’re accomplishing. Find a rhythm that works for you and build a habit of regularly consulting with your plan, reviewing and making updates so it continues to be a powerful tool for you and your marketing team.