Budget season is well underway for credit unions and community banks. While Fall is great for pumpkin spice latte lovers, it’s not so great for financial institution marketers. We often have to exercise our math skills (not necessarily our strongest trait).

 

This year, a marketer’s budget skills must be stronger than ever. You can’t cut and paste your budget from previous years and hope for the best. Or just increase your budget by a certain percentage. Or even use peer comparisons as an example.

 

Your 2021 budget must start with a sound strategy. Every item you put in your 2021 budget must show a strong return on investment (ROI).

 

A number of studies show that companies who increase spending during a recession enjoy greater gains in market share than those who cut their marketing investment. In fact, when markets expand, market share is harder to come by. During a downturn, the right approach is to increase marketing spending.

 

But you can’t just increase your marketing spend for the sake of a bigger budget. You must increase your spend in the right ways.

 

Here are five “must haves” in your 2021 marketing budget:

 

2021 Budget “Must Have” #1: Creative community marketing

The days of traditional community events (fun runs, fall festivals, big events, etc.) are on hold for awhile. If you do it right, the pandemic actually presents opportunities to engage the community and see more results than the traditional events. But you must get creative with your community marketing investment. Click here to download “20 Ideas To Make Community Event Marketing Work in 2020.”

 

2021 Budget “Must Have” #2: Marketing assessment or audit

If you are tasked with growing your credit union or community bank, then the first step you must take is to assess the current state of your marketing. In light of the pandemic and economic downturn, you must change your marketing. And a marketing assessment will tell you just how to do so.

A marketing assessment gives you expert analysis of your social media, website and marketing collateral; comprehensive review of your marketing budget and calendar; tactical recommendations to pivot your marketing; and a step by step plan to increase your loan growth. As Lily Newfarmer, CEO of Tarrant County’s Credit Union said, “The marketing assessment provided a ton of solutions that will elevate and streamline our marketing moving forward.”

 

2021 Budget “Must Have” #3: Digital strategy

Digital marketing is certainly one of the hottest buzzwords today. The challenge is that “digital” can mean many different things. Whether it’s search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media, pay per click, retargeting, geotargeting or anything else you want to throw into the “digital soup,” there are many ingredients to digital.

Rather than throwing your precious marketing dollars up against the wall and hoping something works, you must start your digital spend with a digital strategy. This means developing a complete digital strategy and plan. Don’t spend a dime on digital until you invest in your strategy.

 

2021 Budget “Must Have” #4: Sales funnels and lead generators

This year more than ever your marketing investment must lead to sales. Your marketing efforts should be sales funnels and lead magnets. For example, your website can no longer just be an online brochure. There must be portions of your site that collect leads and put those leads into a sales follow-up campaign. Here are some examples of quality lead magnets:

  • Financial education resources
  • Blog content
  • Contact forms

Lead magnets are anything of value consumers perceive in your content. One of best investments you can make is to actually upgrade the effectiveness of your email marketing (drip campaigns, e-newsletters, special offers, etc.).

 

2021 Budget “Must Have” #5: Household data marketing

In today’s COVID environment, consumers may be less likely to move their financial accounts. But that doesn’t mean you can’t grow. Your existing members/customers can do more business with you. A lot more. One of the keys to capturing more of your existing base’s business is to mine your data at the household level. Data allows for customized campaigns. Data can also help generate sales call lists for front-line staff to contact. Capturing data and using that data should be a key priority for every marketer.

 

Developing a marketing budget involves more than just crunching numbers. Budgeting is also about setting priorities. Focusing on the above tasks should be at the top of every credit union or community bank’s 2021 priority list.

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