It’s budget and strategic planning season for most financial institutions. Somewhere between crafting your strategic plan and finalizing your budget you create a marketing plan.

A typical marketing plan contains objectives, goals, action items and a plethora of other data. But that’s the problem: a marketing plan is “typical.” Every credit union or bank has one.

But what if you ditched your marketing plan and replaced it with a customer plan (or member plan for credit unions)?

In a recent issue of Success Magazine, John Sculley, former CEO of Pepsi and Apple said, “Businesses are all about customers. If a company wants to be transformative, writing a customer plan will be much more important than a business plan.”

So what would a customer plan for a financial institution look like? Here are a few guidelines to consider:

  • Keep it short—While a marketing plan can fill several pages of a three ring binder, keep your customer plan to one page max. Think about it this way: consumers really don’t care about you or details; they just want you to solve their problems.
  • Draw a picture—Visuals illustrate and communicate key issues quickly. So develop an image that shows what your ideal customer looks like, what activities they do, where they go the most, etc.
  • Create a value proposition—Show what benefits you bring consumers. According to The RAIN Group, a good value proposition will resonate, differentiate and substantiate. For more information on how a value proposition can help your bank and credit union, click here.
  • Forget the competition—Most marketing plans detail what is right and wrong about your competition. Guess what: customers don’t care. A solid customer plan ignores the competition (because it’s not about them).Focus on the best—What do you do better than anyone else in the market? That is what consumers want to know more about. You grow your market by differentiating yourself on your strengths.

I’m not saying you should necessarily ditch or burn your marketing plan. However, the next time you start writing that plan, develop it from the perspective of your target audience and not your credit union or bank.