Jumpstart your marketing plan in five days - Simple checklist can breathe new life into marketing strategy

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The following abstract is from Harland Clarke’s Delivering Value quarterly newsletter. You can find this and other articles at

Financial marketing executives are constantly working to determine what drives consumer banking habits. And to find it, Jeb Cashin, vice president of marketing communications at Harland Clarke, suggests a five-day plan designed to help executives connect with their customers and fine-tune their marketing goals.

Day one: Dust off past customer research

Information from last quarter or last year can provide cost-efficient, valuable information that is still relevant today. Examine this data with a fresh eye to see if your institution has made progress in areas previously in need of improvement.

Day two: Shop around

Visit your branches and those of your competitors’ branches to take note of what does and does not work. Shopping around also includes calling customer service lines and browsing your competitors’ Web sites. You’ll suddenly see things the way account holders do.

Day three: Take stock of your existing marketing initiatives

Determine exactly who you are trying to reach with your marketing efforts and with what message. Knowing your desired audience is key to creating and revising your marketing strategy.

Day four: Calculate your 90-day check-writing ratio

The number of checks an accountholder writes in the first 90 days after an account is open is a primary indicator of how engaged he or she is with your company.

Analyze transactional reports on deposit products to determine how many account holders wrote at least one check within the past 90 days. Account holders who have written few checks are likely using their account as a secondary option. It is now your job to determine how you can turn that secondary account into a primary account. Of course, an account holder’s check-writing ratio is not a complete picture, as it does not include online banking; however, it is a good start.

Day five: Count the footnotes

Look at a recent offer your financial institution offered its account holders. Now count the footnotes. The more footnotes you have, the less likely consumers are to believe you are working in their best interest. You don’t need to remove all of your footnotes, but be sure to keep your offers clear and simple.

Moving forward: Formulate an ongoing marketing research strategy

The five-day plan will give you an idea of what needs to be done to take your financial institution’s marketing strategy to the next level. To continue this forward motion, keep these fundamental next steps top-of-mind:

1. Regularly re-evaluate your account holders’ behavior.

2. Benchmark your customer advocacy. Deeply engaged customers who have more than one account with your institution are more likely to believe you are on their side.

3. Market appropriately to be sure the right message gets to the right consumers.

Cashin’s five-day plan is not mean to take a long time. Instead, it is designed to quickly give you a snapshot of how consumers perceive your institution, which will allow you to begin fine-tuning your marketing goals.

Jeb Cashin is vice president of marketing communications at Harland Clarke. Previously he was vice president of consumer marketing. He has held roles in Internet marketing, business development and product marketing. He can be reached at or (770) 593-5608.