Help! I Need a Marketing Campaign
This plea may sound familiar to those new to the job or to community banks new to marketing or the unlucky staff members who, because they had a marketing class in college, ended up in charge of the next campaign. To assist these people—as well as to give a refresher for seasoned marketers—we offer the following wrap-up.
Here’s some basic guidance on how to create and execute a marketing campaign. This information is intended for more than just novices. We have included some tricks of the trade picked up from other marketers over the years. Even if you are an experienced pro, you may learn something new that you can put into practice.
Before you can begin a campaign, there are a few “big picture” questions that you need to answer:
- Does the campaign fit within your bank’s strategic plan?
- Does the operations area support the product?
- Is there a balance-sheet need for the campaign?
Each of these questions could start as the jumping-off point for an entire article in itself. For the sake of brevity, let’s assume that you have already thought about and affirmatively answered each of these preliminary questions.
Now let’s get to the “meat and potatoes.” For ease of discussion and implementation, we will break the campaign process into four parts.
- Delivery and management
- Follow-up and measurement
We will list the most important actions and details associated with each component. These topics will guide you in developing effective organization, creating a timely process, and involving the “right” players. By following this process, you can achieve a successful campaign, bolster your marketing department’s image and have everyone talking about what a great job you did!
This is the “secret” of a successful campaign and a step that many people underestimate or fail to plan properly. The prework sets the stage and helps determine the best opportunity to leverage your resources.
- Determine the campaign goal and product/service to be promoted. The overall goal of the campaign is critical. Will you focus on customer growth or customer retention or a combination of both? A clear goal will help you select the product/service to be promoted. The product/service can be based upon the needs of the balance sheet, the opportunity to create or expand a competitive opportunity, or the dictates of the calendar (example: spring is normally the best season for promoting home equity loans). Product or service selection is important for campaign success and expected response from the marketplace. For sharper focus, select only a single product or service for each campaign.
- Determine the target audience. The more targeted, the better the response and the lower the overall cost—and the better the use of your dollars. Audience selection is like a funnel: At the top are macro decisions (which geographic market will be the focus) and the bottom is specific questions (what demographic, psychographic, product and balance details will be the focus). Start at the wide part of the funnel and work your way down to the more specific questions until you have a target audience that you are comfortable with—and that meets your campaign needs and goals.
- Research the competitive offerings. To ensure a focused campaign, you need to understand the competitive offers in the marketplace. This understanding can help your sales staff position the offer in their one-on-one conversations with customers and prospects. Also, it will help you position your advertising and create awareness of competitive advantages or disadvantages that need to be discussed or addressed. The easiest way to obtain this competitive information is to make quick telephone calls to branches of major competitors and ask about their product offerings.
- Involve operations. Identify operational issues early and make any needed modifications. Otherwise, you risk problems during the campaign itself. The best way to do this is to involve an operations manager in the process. The manager’s input should be limited to operational support needed to make the campaign a success. Examples: Perhaps a new procedure is needed to make a product easier to sell, or a product has a feature that needs to be upgraded to meet competitive offerings. The earlier these issues are identified and addressed, the better.
- Determine a budget. Ah, the budget! The budget should be in proportion to the needs of the organization, expected results and competitive opportunity available. Here are several simple checklist items as you develop your budget:
- Duration of the campaign.
- Number of pieces needed?
- New creative or existing?
- Printing: 2-color, 4-color? Size?
- Type of delivery channel: Direct mail, TV, radio, in-branch, e-mail?
The look and feel of the project is the heart of successful delivery. The design is more than just the graphical look of the advertising or direct mail piece: It involves delivering the campaign’s message, building excitement and leveraging the organization for a focused, unified effort. The successful design is creative, efficient, targeted and thorough.
- Determine the competitive difference to be highlighted. The actual features and benefits to be delivered by the product/service should be determined early. It may be a rate, a better fee, better terms or a new product. Focus on the benefits to the customers who buy the product: How does it make their life easier, better, more efficient? Special rates, fees, or terms may need approval from the operations area or asset-liability committee (ALCO).
- Determine the campaign’s central message. This is the “theme.” Will it be fun and lively, or restrained and more traditional? Will it be focused on the financial future or a better way to live today? Is it something new or a twist on an existing product/service? The central message is what you want customers to “get.” It’s the action you want them to take, the amount of time they have to do it, and where you want them to act. Rich colors, creative copy and photography add to the graphic touch.
- Determine the delivery channel. This is critical. Some products and targets are better reached through separate delivery or media channels. Having done your homework, you know your target audience, the competitive offers and the capabilities of your offer. Using this information, determine the best medium. Remember, different media require different lead times and it is important to know and understand these critical dates. Here is a simple “cheat sheet” for basic media:
- Radio: Broad coverage, some general targeting. Good for communicating unique difference. Affordable for many ad spots.
- TV: Very broad coverage. Good for mass exposure and launching a new product/service. Good for product where visual representation will greatly benefit the offer. Expensive.
- Direct Mail: Targeted. Good for delivery of product or service to “responsive” targets.
- In-Branch: Customer targeted. Good for delivery of a new benefit for your customers.
- Print: Broad coverage. Good for product/service that needs details and information to support the offer. Good for older age groups.
- Sponsorships: General audience target. Offers more targeted approach than mass media (print, radio), depending on the sponsorship activity.
- E-mail: Focused targets. Good for quick exposure and communication. Challenge to create e-mail database. Inexpensive.
- Billboards: General audience. Good branding exposure. Limited copy space; limited to geographic traffic.
- Establish variables to be tracked. Tracking is how you can support your marketing budget, make a statement of success, and gather information to make the next campaign more successful. Tracking both pre- and post-campaign is important. You want to know the “lift” in results your campaign created. Tracking numbers of products, call volumes, application volume, balances, etc. will be critical. This also involves goal setting for the organization, region, and branch levels…and individual levels if your organization is ready for it. Incentives can be created and paid from your tracking.
Delivery and Management
You are now down the home stretch: You have done your research, prepared the campaign and selected how you will deliver your message. The important step of actual delivery and daily campaign management is here! Now your job is to integrate the campaign into your bank’s operations and to ensure that all aspects of support and training are aligned for success.
- Preparation. The last thing you want is for supplies necessary for the campaign to run short. Do an inventory and project the campaign results. Do you have enough in stock? Consider items such as:
- New account forms.
- Card stock (debit card).
- CD certificates and so forth.
- Communications of campaign timing and product/service focus. You now need to communicate to all the areas that will be impacted during the campaign. Consider areas such as the firm you use for appraisals if you will be doing a home equity campaign, as they need to be ready for an increase in volume. Branch staffs, call center, receptionists, lending area, and operations all need to know of a pending campaign to prepare for the volume, be ready for questions, and ensure operational procedures can be effectively handled. Produce a campaign timeline with the important dates, product focus, audience or target definition, and important “facts at a glance” for the campaign and deliver this a week to 10 days before the campaign kicks off.
- Communication of campaign message. Create a “fun” campaign kick-off that generates excitement, builds product/service knowledge and prepares the staff for a great campaign launch. The central campaign message must be known and understood by the bank staff to ensure it is carried through to the customer! Make it memorable. It will pay back in higher campaign results! Prepare a simple question and answer sheet for each area (call center, branch staff, operations), as this will help them “get” the campaign and the focus.
- Determination of incentive calculations. Incentives drive effort. Incentives are an important component to a successful campaign and need to be carefully thought out as to the delivery, incentive weights and rules. You want to “motivate the right efforts by the right people at the right time.” The incentive amounts, payment frequency, reporting frequency (perhaps even more important than the payment frequency) and method to attain the incentives are the critical points of communication.
- Reporting of campaign results. Celebrate and report the results widely. This may seem like taking a chance. If the campaign is not successful, everyone will know. But don’t worry; if you have done your homework and designed your campaign correctly, the odds are good that the campaign will be a success. So share the great results with everyone! Some checklist items:
- Establish the variables to report (based upon your earlier decision on what to track).
- The frequency of the report.
- Identify hot spots and share success.
- Levels of reporting (organization, region, branch, individual).
- Report format (electronic, paper, poster boards, and so forth).
Follow-up and Measurement
Well…you have done it! A successful planning, delivery and implementation of a marketing campaign…but your job is not quite over! It’s time to conduct a post-program analysis to determine what worked, what unexpected things happened that you didn’t plan on, what was the competitive response, and how you would improve the next campaign. Within the context of your organization, the answers to these questions are vital to show your concern for the investment in marketing, the institution’s overall financial success, and the need to win converts to your marketing approach!
- Write wrap-up report. This is a written analysis of your findings. This is your “journal” detailing the success of the campaign and important process notes for the future campaigns you will design and deliver. Answer tough questions, such as:
- Did you meet your goals? Why or why not?
- Did everything occur as planned?
- Any unexpected hurdles?
- What would you change?
- What would you absolutely keep?
- Input from other areas?
- Customer comments?
- Share and compare. This is the opportunity to really highlight areas of the bank that contributed heavily (through results, preparation or campaign spirit). Recognize the best performers, provide keys to their success, and share specifics!
Creating a successful marketing campaign may seem daunting and unforgiving, but with proper planning, foresight and preparation, a campaign can be easy to create and target—and can deliver lasting results for your bank.
Being in marketing puts you on center stage of both the company and the community. Plan and execute your marketing campaigns effectively, and you will shine in the spotlight!
Bruce A. Clapp, CFMP, is president of MarketMatch, a financial-services marketing consulting company based in Clayton, Ohio. Toll-free telephone: (866) 501-2233.