It’s Never Too Early for Marketing Planning

By Mary Ellen Georgas-Tellefsen

Effectively using data and analytics to improve your marketing planning results

Okay, so you’re just starting to gain some traction on your 2019 initiatives, and feeling good about progress and success. Then the email arrives. It is announcing the beginning of budget season. Your heart sinks as you remember the scars that have only just healed from last year’s planning routine. However, there is no time better than the present to get yourself and your team prepared for a great planning season. In fact, perhaps we can even improve upon the process—and more importantly, the outcome.

You probably had to negotiate for more budget, or just to keep the budget you have. You were probably asked to justify that budget. Did you have an ROI analysis? An analysis of new customers, new accounts, new balances? Awareness and exposure? Product usage? Customer satisfaction?

Like many marketers and product managers, you probably have answers for a few of these metrics. However, you may lack a full data set—and you may even lack a full database or business intelligence capability. Here’s a step-by-step guide to start getting what you want and need—during the planning horizon—to produce better results for your marketing department.

Step One: Analytics

If you do not already have a quantitative fact base, there is no better time than right now to establish a firm, fact-based set of metrics. The benefits of tracking the metrics are numerous: they can help you evaluate the health and success of marketing programs, and make your case for additional resources.

Start the process by making a really, really long list of metrics you would like to track and then prioritize the list. Condense the list down to the few metrics that really matter—and that really matter to your executive team. Only then should you bring yourself back down to reality by identifying:

  • The data you actually have now
  • The data you can easily start to obtain and track
  • The budget you will need to allocate to mine, collect, capture and report on new data and metrics

This leads us to Step 1A: Create a database and analytics capability.

It is astounding just how many banks either did away with or outsourced their marketing database capabilities during the financial crisis and never re-installed these capabilities in-house. Some of you will remember our old friend, the MCIF. It housed customer data and provided householded customer data for better target marketing, segmentation and analytics. Does this sound familiar? Today’s version has many names including data mart, data warehouse, business intelligence database, etc. Whatever you want to call it, it is vitally important to the analyzing the success of your marketing programs. The great thing is that you have many cost-effective options to manage this capability either internally or with the help of an external partner.

Step Two: Strategy

Did you think strategy was just for the C-suite? It’s not. The one thing lacking in many marketing plans is an actual guiding strategy that helps prioritize requests, initiatives and programs. If your institution has a strategic plan and guiding mission, congratulations. Use the relevant points of the plan—such as generate more deposits, create more efficiencies, deepen customer relationships—to help you evaluate and prioritize marketing programs.

It’s equally important to meet with your internal clients to understand their plans, priorities and goals for the year ahead. You want to be sure marketing will support corporate and line-of-business goals— and find common goals and metrics between your departments, such as new customer acquisition goals, that you can use to measure and share success.

Great strategies also include segmentation and identifying who you want as your customers. Don’t spend precious budget dollars—or at least don’t spend a lot of it—catering to and attracting customers you and your lines of business really don’t want. If you don’t have certain types of customer segments prioritized, then there is no time better than the present to prioritize customer target segments. There is a lot of data available to help identify and assess the best segment opportunities in your market area.

Once you know who your target customer segments are, then do a deeper dive to understand how they shop, what media they use, how they like to interact and what products and services should be in their financial services basket.  With this type of information, you are armed and ready to make decisions on planning for the future. Leading to our next step….

Step Three: Focus and prioritization

Take stock of what you know. Now you should have the data sets and tools to justify all the requests you have received for marketing programs, campaigns, mailers, community events, charity donations, sports tickets, box seats, advertisements, TV spots, radio ads, online campaigns, Google AdWords, skywriting, etc. Obviously, it becomes clear now why identifying strategy and target segmentation is so important. Strategic vision and target market segments give marketers the focus and guidance necessary to rationalize and prioritize requests for marketing dollars that will be the most valuable for your bank.

This step requires working sessions among the marketing team and its partners throughout the bank to assess what’s working and what’s not working—and to create a plan for the future that provides optimized returns. The tough part is rationalizing requests and programs across lines of business and product lines. This takes some time and some finesse. However, armed with a strong marketing strategic plan you will have the guidance you need to create a plan for future success.

Step Four: Media mix

Digital? Traditional? What is the right media? We’re being bombarded these days with the message that all marketing—all good marketing—is digital. This simply isn’t true. Otherwise, why would Chase—a bank with excellent digital marketing and delivery capabilities—keep spending money on direct mail and inserts in the ValPak mailers? Once you know your strategic focus and target segments, the media mix—and therefore your budget—almost creates itself.

Ask yourself these questions. The answers will put you well on your way to determining the budget and specific media you need to attract and retain your target segments.

  • What are you trying to accomplish—brand awareness or targeted sales?
  • Who are your target segments?
  • What is their learning and buying journey?
  • What media do they use along the way? (Where do you find them?)
  • Which combination of media is driving sales and results?

Side note: See how metrics creep back into the process at every opportunity? It cannot be overstated: creating and utilizing a marketing database for ongoing analytics is a critical success factor for marketing planning.

Staying one step ahead

Why start the next planning season feeling like you are playing defense? Get ahead of the game and start planning now for what you need next year. Work hard to link your marketing programs to actual business results. Partner with your finance team to measure the results. You’ll be amazed how the budget process will transform from a stressful exercise in justifying what you already have into a more fact-based process where you are demonstrating how much money you need to help the lines of business achieve their top priorities. You can thank me later.

Mary Ellen Georgas-Tellefsen is an experienced banking industry consultant and has helped clients develop customized in-house learning programs, such as the one described. She is the Marketing Practice Leader at Capital Performance Group, LLC, providing strategy, marketing, and digital channel consulting services to the financial services industry.