How to Raise Marketing’s Credibility

By Vickie Routhier

As Lance Kessler indicated in his recent article on this site,  “Effective Marketing Leadership,” marketing is not just a department: It is a customer-focused mind-set.

Setting senior management expectations of something beyond tactical activities will only be possible if marketing creates a level of confidence in its ability to understand the strategic goals of the bank and to have an impact on these goals. Marketing provides other bank divisions with the tools they need to be successful, but it is also up to marketing to help others see the strategic possibilities.

Most bank executives are very comfortable with marketing’s role in advertising, public relations and events. To set higher expectations among these executives, however, marketing must create opportunities to discuss bank activities that wouldn’t ordinarily trigger a call to marketing. If positioned properly, marketing can provide a connection between all areas of the bank as well as with the customer.

Every project in the bank should involve marketing to some degree. A software update in IT may not appear to have a customer impact, but if employees are impacted, you can be sure customers are impacted as well. By being at the table, marketing can determine if talking points for employees or frequently asked questions for customers could be helpful. Over time, marketing’s involvement in all projects will make marketing a valuable go-to resource for the bank. Once your bank executives see you as a resource, you will be one step closer to a seat at the table with them.

Getting started

As a good first step, talk to everyone at the bank that you can. Get in front of each bank division to find out what they feel is working and what is not. To create value, you have to understand what people need and also what they want. Directors, division leaders, branch managers, tellers and customers all have information needed to build effective strategic marketing plans. Strong alliances, particularly between members of the c-suite, are essential for gaining trust and confidence.

New-product development is an example of an area where marketing must be included. Marketing represents the voice of the customer and the employees’ ability to sell the product. Marketing also brings competitive awareness to the discussion. After a product is developed, marketing develops the internal communication necessary to ensure a successful product launch. Talking points, frequently asked questions and trigger terms for sales discussions should be clearly outlined and communicated internally before a new-product launch. Marketing must also develop the metrics necessary to measure the success of the product launch.

Marketing should work closely with commercial lenders to identify customers that have recently purchased or expanded their business. By publicly recognizing their successes in a print ad, social media or press release in a local paper, you promote your customers and also the importance the bank places on mutually beneficial customer relationships. As a result of this type of activity, you will attract new customers who are looking for a true partner for their business—and ultimately demonstrate to your commercial banking team that marketing can bring value in a way they may not have anticipated.

There are many ways for marketing to bring value related to sales metrics across all divisions of the bank. Using an MCIF system, marketing can create reports that measure the effectiveness of retail banking activities. By measuring products and services per household and referral conversion rates to better understand how effective your cross-selling and onboarding activities are working, you can identify training and coaching opportunities and ultimately improve individual performance. This will also improve interdepartmental collaboration and product knowledge. This is especially valuable because deeper relationships have an impact on customer longevity and profitability.

A few reminders

Some other simple, but often overlooked, things to remember: Dress for the job you want not the one you have. If you want to be seen as a leader, you have to look the part. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you build good relationships throughout the bank, you will find that others are happy to spend a few minutes with you to help you better understand something.

Relationships inside the bank are just as important as those outside the bank. Also, ask to attend one of the ABA schools. Not only will you learn about all areas of the bank, but also your classmates will become a network of people that will prove to be invaluable sounding boards as you move forward.

Just as you work to build confidence and trust with your customers, it is equally important for you to do the same with employees and peers. Engaging team members is an extremely important part of marketing’s success. No one achieves success by themselves and recognizing this support will deepen the relationships.

Last, go for the small wins that demonstrate that you are a credible part of the team. Lean in and reach! Demonstrate passion for what you do and your drive to contribute. The trust, and ultimately your position and influence in the bank, will grow from there.

Vickie Routhier is executive vice president, chief retail banking and marketing officer at Bank of New Hampshire, Laconia, N.H. She is a graduate of the ABA Bank Marketing School and the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking. Email: [email protected].

Marketing Leadership is a recurring theme at the ABA Bank Marketing SchoolRegistrations are now being accepted.