gather your wits, sprout a spine, and point out a few things that your CFO/CEO may have overlooked

Why would anyone join a credit union they have never heard of?

To many credit union CFOs (and CEOs that used to be CFOs), Marketing is just overhead. They don’t understand it, they don’t value it, and it doesn’t connect in their minds with the personnel and facilities it takes to keep branches open. To them, cutting the marketing budget is a quick fix when you need to manage expenses.

Hey, a CFO only knows what she knows.

That is, until she hears something different from someone she (hopefully) trusts. If this sounds like your situation, you need to speak up before <Snip, snip> there goes your marketing budget, and <crickets chirping> there’s your market presence.

So gather your wits, sprout a spine, and point out a few things that your CFO/CEO may have overlooked:

1. Without a strong marketing budget, you have no market presence. Without a market presence you won’t get any new members.
Forget about trying to spell out your differences from a bank – who’s going to trust a credit union they have never heard of? Those new member goals for the foreseeable future? Won’t even get a glimpse.

2. Big banks that are growing see marketing as an investment.
As a rule of thumb, banks allocate about 5% of their expenses to marketing. Those that have kept up that level of spending are growing, those that have not are shrinking. Coincidence? (BTW, how does 5% compare to your budget?)

3. One direct mailer won’t bring in all the loans you need.
A successful campaign takes multiple touch points with the target audience, which means a variety of media is necessary to make those connections. Simply put, it takes more to make more — more media, more repetition, more time, and more quality.

4. Social media isn’t really free, and it won’t replace other media.
It takes an investment of planning and time. Your time, to be exact, as well as your effort, more of your time, your participation, and did we mention, lots of extra time that I am sure you had just hanging around, waiting to be used. And, since social media has yet to prove it alone can pull in those loan results you need, it does not actually replace any other media. It’s just one more part of the larger mix.

5. Outside professionals are worth it.
Yeah, I know, look who’s making this point. But, unless you are a one-person creative team that can come up with the most amazing original ideas, then design, write, illustrate, build a micro-site, shoot and edit video, write custom music, just happen to do voice-over work on the side and your voice would be perfect for this spot, all while tweeting and blogging about it at the same time – you could probably use some help.

6. Marketing is a process; keep on keeping on.
The new members, loans, and accounts walking in the door today are the product of your last 6 to 60 months of marketing, not just your current marketing. Perhaps the most recent offer finally caught them when they were ready to buy a new car, but all the years of previous messages played a very important role as well, possibly even more important. If you have an MCIF, you can see this effect for yourself – pull up a mailing group from a couple of years back and see how many of them signed up later on. Conversely, the marketing you don’t do right now will continue to hurt you for years to come.

Kent Dicken

CEO/El Queso Grande of iDiz. When not designing logos or consulting with clients, Kent is likely renovating a community park, repairing the 115-year old home of iDiz, or growing hops and brewing craft beer.