The Two Most Important Marketing Questions For 2011

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Sorry to disappoint you, but the most important marketing questions for 2011 aren’t about social media.

In an Aite Group report on social media marketing in financial services, more than half of the FIs surveyed said that, as a percentage of their overall marketing budget, social media is too small to measure. Looking out two years, more than half don’t expect social media’s percentage of the total to exceed 10%.

This means that for at least the next two years, more than 90% of FIs’ marketing spend will go to areas other than social media. And that means that the two most important marketing questions for 2011 (for financial institutions) are:

1. How will Marketing improve the effectiveness of non-social media-related marketing channels, tools, and approaches (i.e. direct marketing, email marketing, TV and radio advertising, search marketing, promotions, PR, etc.)?

2. How will Marketing reallocate its budget between channels, tools, and approaches to improve overall marketing effectiveness and ROI?

If I were the CFO of a financial institution, I’d call my CMO into my office and tell him/her that I would cut the marketing budget in half if s/he couldn’t answer these questions. There has to be CFOs out there thinking “if social media is so damn great, and so much more effective and efficient than other marketing channels and approaches, then Marketing should be able to get as much done as it does now with half the budget, no?”

If I were the CFO of a financial institution, I wouldn’t care less what Marketing did with the 1 or 2% of the budget that went to social media. That’s play money, funny money. I’d want to know what they were going to do with the bigger chunks of the budget.

If I were the CFO of a financial institution, I’d be worried, and maybe even a little confused, about marketing. Because if a CFO were to read all the things I read, s/he might begin to think that all other forms of marketing are declining in effectiveness, and that the only thing working these days is social media. And if that was even remotely true, then a CFO should be worried that a lot of the marketing budget is wasted spending.

And if I were the CFO of a financial institution, and you (the CMO) showed me your Facebook strategy and yada yada about how social media is about “quality not quantity” — and didn’t tell me how it fit in and integrated with your broader marketing strategy — I’d be inclined to throw you out on your ass (which is a big clue as to why I’m not the CFO of a financial institution).

So does this mean that social media isn’t an important question for 2011? Not at all.  If it is the most important question for your financial institution, though, you should be prepared to give up a lot of your marketing budget. You’re simply wasting too much money in other channels and tools.

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