Success - 1Highly effective marketing is a key driver of success for financial institutions. Without it, banks and credit unions could have the best products and services in the industry, but nobody would know about them. Too bad marketing is often misunderstood.

Instead of treating marketing as something that generates business, some executives see it as an expense their organizations can’t afford. Most likely, these organizations either don’t understand marketing’s potential, or their organization doesn’t do marketing well.

Successful marketing is not a solo operation. Fancy collateral is nice to look at, but if it doesn’t work in conjunction with other key business drivers, it won’t achieve the desired result. Like any other component of business, marketing needs help to succeed.

Here are some things that lead to marketing success:

Something to Talk About
Yes, it’s obvious, but it has to be said. Marketers need something to market, like a product or service. But any ole product isn’t good enough. It has to be something consumers actually want…something that solves a problem in their lives or fulfills a need. Marketers can market the products nobody wants or needs, but that isn’t much different than marketing some of the products being shown on infomercials, which never should have been invented in the first place.

An effective brand also helps. Instead of being all things to all people, organizations should pick one or two things they do well and tell consumers about those things over and over.

An Off-core Differentiator
In a saturated market like banking and financial services, being different is no longer enough. You have to be different beyond the core benefits all financial institutions offer – 24-hour account access, no monthly fees on a checking account, low auto loan rates, etc. That’s not to say you can’t market these benefits.  You just can’t depend on them to differentiate your financial institutions in consumers’ eyes.

Off-core differentiators are benefits not easily imitated. Credit unions, for example, used to return dividends to members at the end of their organization’s fiscal year. That is something other financial institutions can’t counter.

Read a lot more about this topic in the most recent issue of my monthly newsletter. We include questions your financial institution should be asking, an example of how one credit union differentiates itself and more.