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Here's How to Drive More Marketing ROI for Your Financial Institution

Meredith Olmstead
Jul 15, 2020 12:39:00 PM

Hiring the right marketing agency to work with your bank or credit union might not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering how to positively impact marketing ROI (return on investment). But I truly believe that working with or learning from the right partners can make all the difference.

Here's how adopting some of what works for us can positively impact marketing ROI at your financial institution.

Cultivate a Culture of Constant Learning

Settling into any status quo can be dangerous to innovation. At our agency we believe we can ALWAYS GET better or DO better. But be careful how you implement this as you don't want it to mean that nothing is ever good enough.

Quite the contrary, when you build a culture around wanting to continually learn, grow and improve, people learn over time that effort and focus are really what matters, not perfection. But this has to be modeled at all levels of your institution.

Internally, I try to remember to ask our team for feedback as often as possible. We consider questions like, what is working well about a project or process? And what can we improve on now or next time? Is this meeting structure effective? Are we missing any key elements for a new project, approach, or concept? 

We've also launched an internal book club this year. This reading group, consisting of all our team members, and meeting every 3-4 weeks, allows us to work through new approaches and ideas together, and discuss new and pertinent concepts as we are individually discovering them.

It's a lot of fun, and learning and growing together is a very powerful way for internal stake-holders to come together to tackle challenges or brainstorm new ideas. Meeting regularly around a book helps us hold each other accountable for getting through the material, and then we discuss how to use what we have learned to make improvements internally.

Learn more with your team using The Ultimate Guide to Successful Inbound Marketing for Financial Institutions

Foster Failure as an Opportunity for Growth

Ok, 'foster' might be the wrong term, so here's what I mean exactly... You can't just pay lip-service to the concept that taking risks is encouraged. You institution has to actually MEAN it!

The only way you can cultivate the kind of work culture that promotes innovation and real risk-taking is with full transparency throughout every level of your organization. We try to do this internally and with all of our clients.

If one of us makes a mistake or misses a deadline, I encourage my team to try to own the error as quickly as possible. For example, recently we realized that some of the social media ads we paused during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic weren't restarted as one of our clients requested.

Because of the large number of ad account updates that were going on simultaneously, our team didn't catch the error until the first ROI report after the change was supposed to take place. This was roughly three weeks AFTER the client asked us to restart their ads.

When my team brought the problem to my attention, and asked me to verify next steps, I didn't hesitate with what needed to happen.

We told the client exactly what went wrong and were very honest about why it happened. In stressful situations people make mistakes. It happens and it's not the end of the world.

Then we addressed the consequences of the problem by suggesting adjustments to the next month's ad budget to make up for the advertising that was missed. And finally we discussed internally what we would do in the future to prevent this from happening again.

It's not complicated. What we have discovered over time is that clients would much rather work with partners who own mistakes when they happen and don't try to cover their tracks or act as if sub-par performance is nothing to be concerned about.

When we tell clients about small mistakes here and there they TRUST us more over the long-term. It's these kinds of transparent and honest interactions that build strong and lasting business relationships.

Don't Mistake Laziness for Loyalty

This one is especially important for financial institutions.

It takes A LOT of effort to move a person's banking relationship to a new financial institution. Especially if you're talking about checking accounts with direct deposits, bill pay, automatic ACH transfers, etc. This is why banks and credit unions need to be particularly aware of customers or members who are simply hanging on by a (lazy little) thread.

If you have low checking account penetration or a high percentage of customers or members who only have a few products or services per individual or household, your staff needs to be actively cultivating relationships with them, to deepen your share of their wallet.

If you don't have team members acting as 'relationship managers,' dedicated to actively reaching out to customers in good standing with authentic suggestions for possible new ways your institution can provide them additional money-saving opportunities, you risk losing these people's business altogether.

The days of undying brand loyalty are well behind us all. While much of the future of business and banking might be digital, people still value interactions with institutions they can trust. And you build those bonds over time with high quality user experiences online, stellar customer service, and proactive and authentic messaging and content.

In the agency world we try to embody this concept through our terms and conditions. At FI GROW we do not believe in long-term contracts. Too often we hear horrible grumblings from clients battling with vendors about three or five year contracts they are 'stuck in.' That's just not how we ever want to do business. We will never use contracts to trap people into relationships with us.

If at any time a client wants to move on and end their relationship with our team they can do so with 30 days written notice. And in the real world of retail banking that's also the reality your financial institutions need to face. Younger generations want what they want when they want or need it. Period. If your bank or credit union can't help them, another one right around the proverbial corner will.

Be the Best Teachers of What You Do for People

This one is all about helping people and making sure that your services make sense to people and authentically fit their needs. As a trained educator in a former life, I can honestly say that until you teach a subject to someone else you likely haven't yet mastered it.

If your staff are highly trained and can explain even complicated financial products and services to customers or members with various levels of understanding, the long-term benefit to your organization will be immeasurable. 

Not only will staff really KNOW about all the various products and services available, but they will be better able to make authentic recommendations that really do benefit the people you are serving. Furthermore, providing quality expertise will again help you deepen your relationships with members or customers, and contribute to building that all important trust. This is how strong foundations for lasting financial relationships evolve.


Progress Over Perfection

One of the biggest challenges to decision-making within large organizations is often referred to as 'paralysis by analysis.' Kind of a funny term, but basically this is when a group of people have a lot of information about a topic or challenge, but lack the motivation or confidence to make a final decision.

In our agency we repeat one phrase over and over: "if you're 75% of the way there... GO!" And what we mean is that we believe progress is better than perfection. 

But in a larger financial institution this can be harder to put into practice. We recommend running meetings that drive decisions with the approach of needing only consent rather than consensus from the entire group. Remind your teams that unless there is a clear business case for NOT taking action or trying a new project or approach brought to the table, then people have the freedom to offer consent to try something, but reserve support or judgement until progress is further along.

We also encourage all of our internal team members to own their areas of expertise, and when there are problems we ask them to bring potential solutions to the discussions, NOT just the problems themselves. There's no reason why your financial institution can't encourage the same with internal teams.

With these small tweaks to handling problems, you will find that the speed of business will increase, and while you might have some missteps or unforeseen consequences, you will also have a team that is more confident about innovation, and are willing to own their decisions regardless of possible negative outcomes. Those are the kinds of teams that will drive innovation and keep your community banks and credit unions in business for years to come.

The Ultimate Guide to Successful Inbound Marketing for Financial Institutions

In this complete guide, you'll gain an understanding of what Inbound Marketing is and how to use it to increase revenue stream and member/customer growth for your Community Bank or Credit Union.

Inbound for FIs on cover small

Claim Your FREE Copy Now!

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