You don't need to do everything

You deserve a promotion, not more work.

Marketers at credit unions have always been asked to handle a lot of different things at once. Sometimes they’ve been asked to do more than one job. It kind of comes with the territory. Especially at smaller CUs.

But that doesn’t make it a good idea. To keep piling on responsibilities, regardless of someone’s strengths, is simply asking for problems.

Marketers are a special breed of people, with a unique set of talents. Some marketers are more get-it-done task-oriented. Others are good at communicating ideas, both written and verbal. And some are amazing visual artists, photographers and designers. But while Marketers tend to be good at many things, their true talent is as a creative innovator that figures out better ways to do something.

That’s why they – excuse me, YOU – deserve a promotion, not more work.

But how do you go about making all this happen?

First you have to realize that you don’t need to do everything.

Chances are that your boss thinks you are good at handling lots of things, which is why they continue to bombard your to-do list. They won’t suddenly realize that no one can be equally great at every task, so they won’t cut back on what they are asking you to do.

It’s up to you to recognize what you are good at, what you are just okay at, and what would probably go better if it was handled by someone else.

If you can, think through every project you were assigned for the last few months and list each task under one of those three categories. Or start tracking your assignments for the next few months the same way. At some point, you will start to see a pattern that keeps being reinforced. That’s the AHA! moment you are looking for.

Start by defining your expertise.

Once you have that light bulb moment, you will start to see what YOUR priorities are; where your expertise makes a difference. Build on that list and focus your energies toward those priorities.

You are in a unique position to help both your credit union (which needs to grow), and members that are looking for solutions. Plus, between handling community outreach, branch visits, social media and website updates, you likely understand what kind of offer or promotion will resonate with members better than anyone else in upper management.

Which should also help you realize that you need to be involved in developing the strategy behind all of those projects. So be sure to include strategic planning on your priorities list.

Show your boss what you are good at.

Your boss is not likely to change their approach with you until you tell them what you want to focus on, and why. Depending upon the level of trust you have developed with them, you may need to prove your reasoning as well.

Start focusing on your priorities and track results. The more information you can bring to the table, the better. Build another list of everything else you do, the things that distract you from being amazing at your priority list.

Then give copies of both lists to your boss. (If nothing else happens, that should be enough evidence for giving you a raise.)

Explain how you can use other resources to get things done.

Of course your boss is going to wonder how everything else is going to get done, if you focus your attention on fewer items. By default, their brain will likely start adding personnel and payroll costs for a bigger marketing department.

Which, if your CU is big enough, could be a reasonable approach. There are plenty of good reasons to do so: increased brand consistency, centralization of responsibilities, a higher level of teamwork, etc.

But not many credit unions have a big enough budget to add the staff needed to do everything that needs to be done. For everyone else, there are a couple of other options.

If you know responsible freelancers with both experience and availability, reach out to them. Some CUs do find the occasional 4-leaf clover that becomes a trusted resource. Plus you only pay for their hours spent on your work, without paying for full-time employee benefits like vacation days and health insurance.

But you also may spend a lot of time trying to find them, or a lot of time managing the ones you do find. Plus, do they know anything about credit unions, or are you having to educate each one you try?

Another option is to use an agency as your virtual marketing department. Then you have access to a full stable of writers, designers, social media managers, and more. And if the agency has CU marketing experience (ahem), even better.

Make that a promotion AND a seat at the table.

Some CEOs are starting to realize that they need to include marketing in planning, in order to take advantage of their skills combining strategy and innovation. A few CEOs have even promoted them to CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers) and CXO (Chief Experience Officer), in order to demonstrate how important they are to growth and transformation.

But unfortunately not every management team has made that connection. A while back, we ran a poll and found that only half of the respondents indicated that they have a role in making policy and decisions. About a third felt that “I’m on the outside looking in.” and 15% chose “I am occasionally allowed to contribute.”

Frankly, we think that’s an awful lot of wasted talent. Marketing is the public expression of the credit union’s brand, and your role in decision-making is (or should be) vital.

We think you deserve a promotion AND a seat at the table.

Kent Dicken

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