I’m just going to come right out and say it for all the credit union CEOs and Boards out there:
If the person in charge of Marketing and Brand is not at least a Vice President level executive reporting directly to the CEO, you’re doing it wrong.
We’ve worked with hundreds of credit unions over the years and we’ve noticed our most successful clients have a lot in common. One of those consistent success traits is that Marketing is treated as an essential strategic function that drives growth. After all, quality marketing is an incredible investment, not an expense.
Here’s why your Marketer-in-Chief should at least be a VP or equivalent, and why you’d have to be absolutely nuts to push this incredibly important person further down the food chain.
Marketing needs clout and resources
Your head marketer should have a high level of strategic responsibility, broad decision-making power, accountability for results, and (last but not least) access to the money, people, and time needed to Get Stuff Done.
Marketers need a clear vision, big problems to solve, bold strategies to enact, and room to run – not a shopping list based on last year’s allowance.
Marketing makes the CEO and Board’s job easier
It’s the Board and CEO’s job to take the long view; set long-term strategy and interim goals, and keep their eyes scanning the horizon for threats and opportunities. A great Marketing VP or CMO understands all the numbers that make a credit union thrive, and how to make them move.
If the Board and/or CEO are getting bogged down in the nuts and bolts of marketing (planning, tactics, proofing, approvals for every expenditure) they’re wasting critical time and taking their attention away from steering the ship. Set a course, delegate to your Marketing pro, make sure they have the resources they need, and hold them accountable.
Credit unions need silo-busters
Marketers have an enormously important role as brand stewards and member advocates. That means they need to stick their nose into a lot of “other” areas, like product development, member service quality, training, processes, policies, technology, and even rates and fees. They need the title and authority to bash through departmental barriers and work directly with other high-level execs.
Marketers have a unique set of skills
Great marketing is both a science and an art, and great Marketers can bridge both sides of the brain with ease. For example, ROI numbers are important, but quality and authenticity in creative are in turn vital parts of the secret sauce that has the power to multiply ROI. Your VP of Marketing needs to understand both the “soft skills” and “hard numbers” sides of the equation and how they work together.
A title is an important signal. It’s a quick indication of Marketing’s relative importance to colleagues, members, and vendors. Get creative if that fits your culture, but in the end, make sure it’s clear that your “Chief Growth & Happiness Officer” has a high level of responsibility and the clout to match.
Hey, no sneaking in extra hats
Modern Marketers already wear a lot of hats, from Tech Guru to Brand Maven. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to try for a two-fer by tossing a completely different hat on the pile. VP of Operations or Lending is a full-time job on its own, and so is VP of Marketing; you’re losing out somewhere if you try to combine these very different responsibilities.