IStock_000051435828_LargeAs you scan your 2015 marketing calendar, it is probably already full with a complete list of tasks to accomplish this year. But are they the right tasks? Each January I offer suggestions regarding what financial marketing executives should focus on in the coming year. While many of the past posts have focused on strategic issues, this year I’m offering a few professional development ideas as well.

Because of the length, I’m breaking this into two parts (one through seven now and eight through 15 on the next post).

Please feel free to also contribute your own ideas!

(1)   Throw out your marketing calendar

IRA and debt consolidation promotions in quarter one. Boat and RV campaigns in the Spring. Sizzling summer and back to school promotions in the third quarter. Auto loan specials in the Fall. That is more or less the marketing calendar for most banks and credit unions. However, a true seasoned financial services marketer is throwing out their traditional marketing calendar and instead focusing on building their brand all year long. For more information on developing an integrated brand approach, check out this post.

(2)   Complete the difference map exercise

Differentiation is something every bank and credit union is struggling with these days. Why? Because we are in a commoditized business. One of the best strategic exercises you can complete this is the Difference Map. It’s a fantastic tool created by Bernadette Jiwa. For details on how to make your financial institution different, you can read this post.

(3)   Attend CU Grow’s digital marketing boot camp

Digital marketing is not just a buzzword phrase. It’s a new marketing reality. And if your bank or credit union is still marketing like the “old school” then you better embrace this new school. And there is no better way to gain a jumpstart on how to do digital marketing than attend one of CU Grow’s Digital Marketing Boot Camps. You will learn how to tell stories that sell in the digital economy, how to build and optimize a website that sells and how to generate leads with content marketing.

(4)   Calculate ROI regularly

Many marketers talk about return on investment (ROI) but few actually go to the effort of doing it on a regular basis. While ROI is hard to measure when it comes to branding you can certainly do it with standard promotions. For a few easy (and free) ROI cheat sheets take a look at these loan and sales worksheets.

(5)   Attend The Financial Brand Forum

If you want to grow professionally as a financial marketer you must continually develop yourself. And one of the best conferences to attend this year is The Financial Brand’s Forum. From top top-notch keynote speakers like Jason Dorsey to engaging workshops to tracks geared specifically to financial marketers this is a must attend event.

(6)   Start a Master Mind group or get a mentor

One thing that has recently helped me grow professionally is a Master Mind group. According to Success Alliance, mastermind groups “offer a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills. A mastermind groups helps you achieve success.”  If a mastermind group is too big of an initiative then seek out a mentor who can guide you. Either way, get people in your life other than your boss who can coach you.

(7)   Conduct a marketing audit

We audit everything in financial services. But do we audit marketing? How good are your strategic and tactical marketing efforts? The reality is we often need an outside perspective and help when it comes to our marketing. Jay Curtis, CEO of First Credit Union in Arizona, said of his recent marketing audit, “It gave us great feedback on where we need to focus our energies to grow and better serve our members. Having a fresh set of eyes on all your materials is a great way to better your brand. I consider the marketing audit process key to our future success.”

 2015 is going to be a great year for credit unions and banks, especially if their marketers complete the above tasks. But those are just a few suggestions. What other tasks do you think financial institution executives should add to 2015?