CEO - 1At many credit unions and banks there can be a natural tension between the chief executive officer and their marketer. After all, most marketers think in color while many CEOs think in black and white.

We recently asked several credit union and bank CEOs from various sizes and locations what they wanted from marketing. Below are their responses followed by my take.

“Marketing has expanded well beyond the days of just running ads. Marketing identifies target audiences, identifies the best method to get their attention, and then most importantly, tracks the results and makes adjustments if necessary. Our marketing efforts need to be developed from the perspective of the consumer, not the credit union.”—Ellen Ford, CEO, People’s Credit Union (Rhode Island)

“I want our marketing efforts to be meaningful and engaging while supporting our overall strategic objectives. Additionally, I want our brand to be consistent across all channels.”—Melanie Kennedy, President, Southwest Financial Credit Union (Texas)

“I’m one of those finance guys I read about in your blog that struggles to understand marketing! I do value marketing’s role and know they’re doing an outstanding job maintaining and protecting our brand. My expectation is that marketing will help us achieve our strategic goals, manage our primary employer sponsors (schools and SEG’s), understand what members want and recommend new products for us to offer to them and help members be aware of the services that meets their needs. This last one is evolving as old school advertising methods are becoming less effective and new methods such as ‘big data’ techniques are becoming more important (and harder to do).”—Tim Lyons, CEO, TTCU (Oklahoma)

“I would like our marketing to get us noticed by people that need our products and services. I want the message to reflect our commitment to community, our genuine concern for our fellow citizens and our professionalism. I also want a consistency in our marketing program that establishes an attractive, easily recognizable brand.”—Kurt Rosenberger, Our Community Bank (Indiana)

“I would like marketing to spark the interest or stimulate a curiosity in prospective customers to the degree that they interact with the bank via e-mail, social media, phone, branch visit, etc., thereby giving our staff ‘a bite at their apple of business.’  Another way to say it might be that I view marketing as making the introduction while the responsibility for turning the introduction into a relationship falls to the staff (Loan Officers, Customer Service Reps, Deposit Staff, Trust Officers, etc.). In our shop, marketing also plays a cheerleader role in reinforcing key/core elements of the brand, which drives the bank’s culture.”—Jamie Shinabarger, CEO Spring Valley Bank & Trust (Indiana)

“As a CEO and a former credit union marketing executive, what I would like to see from marketing is a compelling way to tell our story of why we are different and what makes us better. With financial services being a commodity business, the only way to stand out from the crowd to be different. Credit unions by our nature are different and I am not sure the public understands how we are different and how that difference can make their lives better.”—Rodney Showmar, CEO, Arkansas FCU (Arkansas)

My take: CEOs demand quite a bit from marketing, as well they should. Marketing is the engine that drives many banks and credit unions. So if you’re a marketer, what does your CEO want from you? I’d recommend the following  three “Rs”:

  • Results—Ultimately, CEOs are about the bottom line. They want growth. You need to show that your marketing efforts are delivering results and not just feel-good material. Showing results means showing return on investment (ROI). Let’s be honest: marketing sometimes has a target on its back. You can remove that target by giving CEOs results.
  • Reach—While CEOs do want it all from marketing, they mostly want marketing to drive sales. In other words to increase the number of products and services consumers have with their bank or credit union (the reach you have with consumers). You don’t just do marketing; you drive sales. You can improve your sales by improving your reach.
  • Recognition—As several CEOs commented above, marketing is responsible for the brand. The only way you can improve market penetration for your financial institution is to improve its recognition with your core target audience. You can deliver that recognition with a strong brand.

So there you have it: what CEOs want from marketing. What else have you heard or does your CEO want from you? Or if you’re a CEO, please tell us what you want from marketing.