Fall is a love/hate relationship for credit union and banking marketers. Love football season—hate budget season. Love falling leaves—hate falling budgets. Love cool temperatures—hate hot budget conversations.Budget - 1

Yes, it is indeed budget season in many credit unions and banks. A time for heated discussion on the financial instruction’s bottom line. Forget strategic planning—the true strategic priorities are often determined in the budget season and not the planning season. This is when you decide if you have the resolve (budget) to meet those strategic objectives you’ve set.

There are a number of items your credit union or bank should consider as you carefully make your 2014 plans.

Here are a few:

(1)  Your user experience—What is it like for someone to do business with your financial institution? You probably need to enhance the user experience at every touch-point. And note, the user experience touches everything: your branches, your website, your loan applications, your call center, etc. Maybe this is the year you add online chat, click to call, a concierge business model and personal financial management tools. For an example of a financial institution that focuses on their user experience, check out the July issue of my e-newsletter.

(2)  Your sales and marketing—“If growth is the objective, then credit unions need to make sales and marketing their number one priority,” says Jeffry Pilcher, editor of The Financial Brand in this post on “The One Thing.” Strategic investment in sales and marketing yields a positive return on investment (ROI). Not sure your bank or credit union is maximizing its sales and marketing efforts? Then budget for a marketing audit in 2014 to give you answers and clarity.

(3)  Your technology—One of the best ways to grow your bank or credit union is to align your digital channels. More and more content is being consumed on tablets and smartphones. Mobile banking is already tipped, payment systems are radically changing, and the digital wallet is a potential game changer. So why are you spending $2 million on a branch and less than $20,000 on your website?

(4)  Your video—More people are consuming content via video. YouTube is now the number one search engine for people under the age 30. So how are you using video at your financial institution? For an example of a credit union check out this article from The Financial Brand. Or see this creative annual meeting (yes, annual meeting) video from Bossier FCU.

(5)  Your brand—Successful financial instructions are actually moving away from a traditional marketing calendar and instead are promoting their brand. You must develop an integrated
brand at your credit union or bank. An integrated brand means every aspect of the organization and customer experience are aligned. Tools you will need to develop an integrated brand include a brand audit, brand plan and brand standards. Don't think branding leads to positive ROI or results? Then check out this article (The Power of Brand Management) from Ron Shevlin.

You will notice a “theme of three” for this year’s priorities: technology, branding, and sales. Focusing on these three items will help your bank and credit union grow in 2014.