Will “Thrift Store Marketing Budgets” Spell Disaster For The Future Of Credit Unions?

By. Mark DeBellis, PSB Integrated Marketing

A recent article in the Credit Union Journal (3/4/13) by Aaron Passman shared the challenges that credit union marketers face. Many are trying to carve out share of market growth with meager marketing budgets and insufficient staffing. These observations are coming from the study by the Financial Brand’s recent State of Bank and Credit Union Marketing report.

Today 33% of the credit union marketers say that they continue to struggle with budgets and staffing.

Having been a part of this industry for many years, there never has been any year that I can remember where marketers have said they have too much money. However, these times are different.

After coming off the recession and the deep drop in marketing support, it doesn’t appear that marketing budgets are bouncing back right away. According to the survey, 42% of the respondents say their budgets will remain the same as last year, 25% will decrease. Although, 34% are seeing increases of 10 – 20%, it still doesn’t bring companies back anywhere close to where they were pre-recession.

With all this pressure, marketers are forced to make many decisions solely on price.

In fact, when PSB asked marketers from around the country to rank order their criteria for selecting a 2013 marketing provider, the number one response was price.

Not creative ideas…Price.

Marketers have gotten the message from the corner office loud and clear.

It’s no wonder there has been a rush to social media where everything is free. Or, to increases in the in-house creative support where marketing generalists are working on a member open house one minute and an email campaign the next.

But even in-house teams are stretched. While there is a belief that money is being saved because they are doing it themselves, according to our survey they wish their marketing efforts were “more creative” or “had a more polished look.”

While price is the number one criteria in selecting a provider, what are marketer’s top priorities for this year?

Sales promotion ranked top of the list, followed by Interactive Design, Direct Mail and Corporate Collateral. All of these are in strategic alignment with the broader industry direction – loan growth and member growth through sales promotion; increased investment in electronic marketing, growing consumer outreach and awareness through corporate imagery/branding.

All of the above are worthy of investment. But if many in the industry continue to use low price as the key barometer for decisions, how will we ever move the industry into world-class status?

Leon Cautillo said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after low pricing is forgotten.”

Marketing departments need the financial support to deliver the solutions that will move the industry forward. Just as any investment in infrastructure or human talent, focusing primarily on price generally means a race to the bottom.

Mark DeBellis

Mark DeBellis

Mark DeBellis has spent over half of his life in the Marketing profession and in the promotion and management of consumer brands and services. He seeks new ways to provide ... Web: www.psbonline.com Details