Strategic-PlanningTasks lists. To do items. Action steps. We all have them. When it comes to marketing at our financial institutions, our lists seem to grow and grow. Update the website. Create a loan promotion. Develop a new product. The action steps to fulfill strategic objectives are never ending.

With all those lists we can easily succumb to the activity trap. If we are going, going and going then we must be doing something correct. If we are updating our Facebook page and Twitter feeds then surely we are fulfilling our social media strategy. If we are putting up billboards and sending direct mail pieces then certainly we are completing our branding plan.

Not so fast.                                                                                                    

The reality is too many times we put tactics above strategies. After all, tactics are the things we do every day.  But if we are just managing our marketing to do list, then we rarely examine our marketing focus.

So how do you avoid putting tactics above strategies? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ensure your strategic plan is really strategic—One of the problems in many credit unions and banks is that their strategic plans are really just a list of tactical items. If your strategic plan reads like a tactical playbook, revise it. Now. Focus on your vision, your values, your differentiators, your value proposition, your brand and the direction you want to take the organization rather than a massive list of action steps.
  • Review your marketing plan quarterly—Your marketing plan needs flexibility. Rather than complete a monthly marketing to do list, spend time each quarter thinking and analyzing. Stop. Slow down. Make sure you are not doing the same things over and over again. Try doing something new for a change.
  • Demonstrate that marketing is a strategic function—In some credit unions and banks, the marketing person is just the brochure or newsletter person. Strategic marketing needs a voice within the organization. Your marketing will always be tactical if no one looks at it strategically. Calculate ROI on your promotions. Create a strategic brand plan. Make sure marketing has a “seat at the table.”
  • Flow your marketing plan—When it comes to how marketing and strategy fit, consider this flow: vision, values & mission > strategic plan > brand plan > marketing plan > marketing tactics. With your credit union or bank, make sure things are “flowing” correctly. In other words, don’t put the brand plan above the strategic plan and don’t put the marketing tactics over the marketing plan.

Daily tactics are important. If you are not doing the day-to-day marketing functions, then you certainly won’t accomplish your overall strategic objectives. However, make sure you are not elevating those tactics above your top strategic initiatives.