Five Big Strategic Shifts Bank and Credit Union CMOs Must Make

In a world dominated by mobile devices and digital channels, bank and credit union CMOs have to be flexible and accept that the same old strategies and tools aren’t working anymore — at least not as well as they used to. In a report by Martech, "CMOs at the Wheel," top execs from around the world explained how they are building the modern marketing organization. Here are five key takeaways.

1. Think Differently About Culture, Talent and Your Org Chart

“When you’re the underdog in your industry, hire people with the DNA to creatively leapfrog the competition, not follow the industry norms.”

Today’s top marketers are rethinking how they build their marketing teams. What is needed to tackle the challenges of digital disruption and address the demands of rapid growth?

Gone are the days when you could simply run ads, pay a good salary and recruit the best talent. Now it’s more like engineering a professional sports team, with the most versatile and agile marketing “athletes” making the cut.

In this new approach, the hierarchical org chart outlining distinct departments has evolved into a hub with many separate but equal stations that break down the customer journey to its basic principles. Every member of the team now has a vital role in understanding how to best engage customers wherever they are in the cycle. In short, everyone needs to be focused on CX.

“Don’t obsess over the org chart on paper. Instead, get the right people, the right goals and the right trust in place.”

“A fresh organizational redesign with new boxes on paper is not enough,” MarTech says in their report. “The next step is to develop or hire talent to fit into those new boxes. Similarly, if you own the customer experience, you may need to understand everything that influences that experience, from the product to the out-of-box experience and all the way to customer service.”

2. Take a Customer-Centric Approach

Customers are no longer satisfied with simply being “sold” products and services. Taking a customer-first approach means your organization makes customer experience a top strategic priority, and invests in it accordingly.

“It’s not enough to simply organize by customer-centric verticals,” MarTech says. “Establish metrics and routines to expose marketers to overall goals and reinforce cross-functional thinking.”

MarTech suggests marketers “walk a mile in their customers’ shoes,” as the maxim goes — something few marketers do often enough. “Eat your own dog food to understand your consumer experience end-to-end,” the report says.

Within this customer-forward approach, you should identify your most ardent supporters — those brand advocates and social influencers who can organically grow your brand sentiment via social channels. These vital constituencies become collaborators and co-creators who help you design new products, test new ideas, and give invaluable feedback throughout the development cycle.

3. Identify KPIs from the Start

“Nothing brings together a new team like a BHAG — a big hairy aggressive goal — without enough time to deliver it.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are an essential tools used to determine if your campaigns are effective across a range of media channels. You need KPIs for every channel — social, digital, web and email. KPIs aren’t vanity metrics either. A world-class CMO doesn’t try to impress their peers in the C-suite with vanity metrics. CEOs and CFOs want to know how many new loans your last email campaign generated, or how many new checking accounts were opened thanks to last month’s social media activity. They could care less how many “Likes” you have on Facebook, or how many impressions your Q1 digital campaign generated.

Defining the KPIs for your bank or credit union from the start will give you the benchmark data needed for accurately determining the success of the campaign… and proving marketing’s value to the organization. If you’re smart, you’ll get your entire C-suite on board with your KPIs before you build your strategic marketing plan. Just remember, when defining goals and objectives, it’s crucial for marketers to look beyond traditional metrics like CTRs and step out of their metrics comfort zone.

“Measure, measure, measure and demonstrate results to your leadership team.”

The MarTech report singles out one KPI in particular. Many top-performing CMOs these days utilize Net Promoter Scores. This metric measures customer satisfaction and loyalty by defining the willingness of the customer to refer your bank or credit union to friends and family through a simple customer satisfaction survey. Respondents are then grouped by their responses and categorized as “Promoters,” “Neutrals” or “Detractors.” It may not be the only KPI you need (as some NPS enthusiasts claim), but it is a good indicator of how well the organization is executing on its CX strategy. And NPS is a KPI that most others in the C-suite can wrap their heads around; after all, it does serve as a gauge of their efforts as well as yours.

“A bold vision with measurable goals helps to align the organization and attract great talent,” MarTech says “Start with your long-term vision and know how you will differentiate from your competitors because this drives the way you organize, staff, execute, and measure results.”

4. Empathy and Listening Are the Tools That Build Brands

“Extend your approach to marketing beyond ‘getting a message out there’ — focus on building trust.”

According to MarTech, the best marketing in the world combines data with storytelling. “With science, you can be relevant and timely; with art, you can emotionally engage your audience,” writes MarTech in their report. “Success comes from knowing your consumers’ passions, being innovative in the way you engage them and having a team that collaborates across all aspects of the consumer experience delivery.”

With the increasing popularity of social media, marketing communication is now a two-way street — meaning that you’re not the only one putting information out there about your brand.

While this can be a challenge at times (it’s never fun hearing people dump on your brand), it’s also an opportunity to invite others into the conversation — for better or worse. In some cases, this can allow you to elevate your brand evangelists up to more official roles, moderating conversations in social/digital channels and sharing stories that provide organic traffic and increase positive brand sentiment.

5. Pick Your Approach: ‘Digital + Marketing’ or ‘Digital Marketing’

In the MarTech report, CMOs expressed varying opinions on this topic — whether “digital” and “marketing” should be treated as two separate entities, or fused into one single discipline.

Those for who believe they are separate argue that It’s marketing/brand’s job to best understand and engage consumers from an emotional perspective. It’s digital’s job to continuously test and measure the impact of those engagement efforts.

Those who combine those efforts are doing away with digital-specific roles. It’s really an extension of the kinds of questions that new digital channels raise, “Where does CX stop and marketing start? Is ‘digital’ just another media channel, like TV and direct mail?” That’s why many modern CMOs are wrapping everything up into their overall responsibilities — digital, CX, marketing, branding. This broad approach embodies the “digital is marketing and marketing is digital” philosophy.

Regardless of how CMOs approach the “digital + marketing” vs. “digital/marketing” debate, every organization must make a conscious choice, then articulate why that position will work best for your organization. It is important to clarify your decision to all team members to ensure a consistent approach, and determine the KPIs that marketing will use to analyze the results of their efforts.

“Some organizations will proclaim how important digital is, then organize
in a way that sends signals that digital is less important,” MarTech cautions in their report. “Be aware of this potential discrepancy.”

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