September is here. Leaves are falling. Football fans are cheering. Temperatures are dropping.

And credit union and bank marketers everywhere are preparing their 2019 budgets. As we enter bank and credit union strategic planning season, financial marketers turn their attention to the upcoming year. We dust off the handy-dandy Excel spreadsheets, sharpen our pencils and try to remember those math skills we avoided during school.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of just doing the “same ‘ol, same ‘ol” when we work on our budgets. We review what we did last year, being careful not to make too many drastic changes. Maybe we increase some dollars in one area while reducing the investment in another.

One of the best ways to allocate your dollars, however, is through “impact budgeting.” With this approach, you determine what items will have the most impact on your credit union or bank. Then you devote your resources to those areas. In other words, put your marketing dollars where you will garner the highest return on investment.

So what are some issues that will give you “impact budgeting?” Here are four priorities as you prepare your 2019 marketing budget:

  • Increase your video investment—Whatever you spent on video in 2018 (unless that number is zero!), you should double it in 2019. People are no longer reading: they are watching. According to the State of Digital Video Advertising report, 96 percent of brands surveyed planned to increase their video advertising budgets. While you can hire a videographer to create branded videos, it’s amazing what you can do with your phone using tools like BombBomb and Animoto. Examples of doing more with video include video testimonials, video annual reports and video e-mails


  • Conduct a marketing audit—If you want your overall marketing impact to increase tenfold then the best step you can take next year is to conduct a marketing audit. This exhaustive review will reveal the things you’re doing right while also showing any brand gaps you have.

Most importantly, a marketing audit comes back with multiple strategic and tactical steps you can take to immediately improve your marketing. As Jay Curtis, CEO of First Credit Union, said recently, “The marketing audit 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.”

  • Create defining moments—One of the absolute best business books I read this year was “The Power of Moments” by Chip & Dan Heath (you can check out my review and application points here). As financial institutions we need to create defining moments for consumers that are both meaningful and powerful.

When crafting your marketing budget, don’t just think big picture items like your MCIF system, social media spend or awareness advertising. Make sure you are also allocating dollars for little items like having a popcorn machine or cookie maker in your branches, sending flowers to every consumer who gets a home loan with you or having branded bottled water for people who visit your branches.

These member experience touch points will create powerful moments for your consumers and build loyalty with them. As the authors of the book poignantly say, “…banks miss countless opportunities to boost customer loyalty by creating moments, and the lack of attention to these moments contradicts banks’ talk about building strong relationships with clients.”

  • Improve your creative—In this day and age where there are graphic designers are on every corner, it’s easy to believe that design is just a commodity. But a recent study from McKinsey showed that the most creative companies perform better financially than their peers. In other words, higher creativity is associated with superior performance. So before hiring an 18-year-old high school kid to redesign your website or update your brochures, you might want to partner with a firm that has creative experts or hire an internal graphic artist to be a part of your team.

Marketing is about results—which means marketing is about numbers. And as you crunch your marketing numbers preparing for 2019, investing in those four items above will give your credit union or bank the biggest impact.