Happy New Year - 1It’s here! Happy 2014! If you are like most financial marketers, you are probably already off to the races. In fact, at most credit unions and banks the marketing department started their 2014 initiatives back in October of 2013.

But January is always a time to reflect on our upcoming year and efforts. While the famous saying “finish strong” is important, the reality is if you don’t start the year right in marketing, your finish is already doomed.

So here are a few marketing tips to guide you into 2014:

(1)   You won’t grow if you don’t market—Raise your right hand. Make the following pledge, “I promise not to cut the marketing budget at mid-year.” There—you said it. Now be sure to keep your promise! It cracks me up: every bank and credit union I know wants to grow, grow and grow. Yet when mid-year comes around the first thing to cut is the marketing budget. You will not grow your financial institution if you do not grow your marketing. No marketing = no growth.

(2)   Get everyone involved in branding—Marketing does not exist in a silo (or at least it shouldn’t). One of the best suggestions I can give marketers is to share the love. It doesn’t matter what your brand vision, message and tagline are. It’s your employees who live the brand every day. So what are you going to do this year to make the brand come alive to them? Options include conducting employee wide brand training, developing staff brand standards and having a “brand-day” for staff.

(3)   Do something different—If all you did for your marketing plan this year was “cut and paste” from last year’s then you are living in the past. You must have new action steps and tactics for 2014. Maybe it’s using a new social media tool (Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Kik, Google Plus, etc.), dropping all direct mail, or using more video. If you are not doing something new this year in marketing, then your marketing is not growing.

(4)   Put your marketing efforts under the microscope—More than likely, your marketing can be better. Much better. But too often we are too close to our own marketing. We need an unbiased and informed set of eyes to review our efforts. As one of our clients said of their marketing audit, “It was brutal, but fair.” They conducted their marketing audit during the first quarter of 2013, used those findings moving forward and had one their most successful years in marketing to date. All because they took the time to do a deep dive analysis of their marketing.

Those are a few marketing tips to guide you into 2014. I’m sure there are several others. What marketing suggestions do you have to help us start the New Year?