Is Your Marketing The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything?

Mark Arnold
Is Your Marketing The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything?

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Yes, this is a blog about marketing tips for credit unions and community banks, but let's talk music for a minute.

Parents of 90's and early 2000's kids likely recall the song and subsequent film "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything." (If you haven't, click the link for a good laugh.)

Part of the popular VeggieTales franchise, the song and film focus on a group of friends on a pirate-themed adventure who time travel and rescue a loved one from a cheesy villain.

In addition to the moral of the movie/song, there's also a valuable question for financial institutions: is your marketing the Pirates who don't do anything?

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One of the best marketing tips for credit unions and community banks is simply this: do something, not nothing.

There are many credit unions and community banks who may talk up their marketing game but don't live up to the hype. There are also plenty of financial institutions that really don't do much marketing at all. Both are a path to failure.

Whether your financial institution isn't living up to the promise of its marketing potential or isn't investing in marketing to begin with, having a marketing department that really doesn't do anything is not viable for future success.


When you're not getting the marketing results you want, it can be hard to know why. Here are some common pitfalls that often lead to ineffective marketing (i.e. marketing that doesn't do anything).

  • Lack of focus

Do you have 17 "strategic tasks" already on your plate for next year? Is your leadership team trying to launch a new product or service every few weeks? Then chances are you're not focused. Your marketing is falling on deaf ears because your message isn't focused.

  • Too small marketing budget

In marketing, you have to spend to succeed. Don't think you can get more loans without at least having an email service to communicate with your members. Pro tip: During a marketing assessment, we walk you through our proprietary budget formula so you know exactly what size your marketing budget should be. It's a game changer for many marketers.

  • No clearly defined target audiences

Niches lead to riches, and you can't be all things to all people. Without having clearly defined target audiences, you lose the opportunity to direct your messaging to the people who are most likely to respond.

  • Overly-involved board

If you have to get approval on every marketing decision or marketing spend, then you're likely wasting time spinning wheels instead of getting things done. It's great to have an engaged board and executive team, but someone eventually has to do the work. Many good ideas get talked to death and lose their potential.

  • Wearing too many hats

It's not uncommon for credit union and community bank marketers to fill more of a "catch all" role than an actual marketing role. When you find yourself planning the staff Christmas party or coordinating all volunteer efforts, it's time for a pause. How could you better spend your time to generate more tangible ROI?


In order to avoid these common pitfalls and ending up with marketing that doesn't do anything, your financial institution must invest in sound marketing and advertising. Here's how.

  • Establish set goals and metrics for your marketing efforts

The best way to prove your marketing is doing something is by setting clear goals and metrics for measuring those goals. Tip: make sure these goals align with your overall strategic plan.

  • Invest sufficient resources (money, time, people, etc.) in marketing

Remember our marketing assessment budget calculator mentioned earlier? It's a good place to start to make sure you're competitive with other credit unions and community banks your size.

  • Stay on top of new marketing developments, including technology

The world is moving quickly, so the more you stay on top of new developments the better. I recommend subscribing to the On The Mark Strategies newsletter for the latest marketing tips.

  • Actively listen to what consumers say they need

Pay attention to your members and customers. What are they telling your front lines teams? What kinds of things are they talking about on social media? Market to what is actually a need, not what you think is a need.

  • Create and deliver a message that is clear, concise and constant

Donald Miller famously says, "If you confuse, you lose." That could not be more true in marketing. When you repeat a clear and concise message to your audience, you are far more likely to be top of mind.

Like I mentioned earlier, one terrific tool to ensure your marketing does awesome things (not just something, but awesome things!) is the marketing assessment. It can help your financial institution save time, stop losing money and accelerate into the new normal.

In a children's movie, a song about pirates who don't do anything is funny. It's somewhat similar to the Knights Who Say Ni! from Monty Python fame; sure, they look intimidating and use big words but their demands are silly and unattainable. As you assess your current marketing, remember one of our top marketing tips for credit unions and community banks: Your marketing cannot be the pirates who don't do anything or the Knights Who Say Ni!; it must be marketing that accomplishes amazing tasks and exceeds consumer expectations.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO