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Start with Profitability

MARKETING CAMPAIGN SERIES Installment 1: Start with Profitability

"How do you run a marketing campaign? Where do you start? How do you measure ROI?"

Our financial clients ask us these types of questions a lot. So we thought we'd put together a multi-post series about running a campaign from start to finish. This is meant to be a framework to give you a process to lean on.

The first post in the series focuses on where you as a marketer can positively impact your institution most: generating revenue.

Scenario 1:

Your CFO pokes their head into your office and says you need to conduct a campaign to raise $15 million in deposits to fund new loans. Also, you have four months and nowhere near a large enough budget. Good luck!

Scenario 2:

You overhear a conversation between two members of your management team. They refer to marketing as a cost center. One of them says marketing should stick to “writing newsletters and posting photos on Facebook.”

Sound familiar? If so, your bank or credit union may not understand or value the potential of marketing. Many executive teams view marketing as an expense. In reality, marketing is a strategic investment that can and should be one of the lead profit generators at your institution.

Unfortunately, being profitable these days focuses on cutting instead of optimizing. Your executive team may decide to staff branches as little as possible. When that’s not enough, they often come for your marketing budget.


Marketing should be a profit center. When you show the value of marketing, you can gain a seat at the table for strategy and planning. Marketing can drive profitability and put the bank on a better trajectory for success.

But how?

The short answer: generate profit. That starts with knowing your most profitable products, customers and internal departments.

Why profitability? Because money talks.

By focusing on the products, customers and branches that generate the most profit, you focus your limited time and budget on initiatives that can have the largest positive impact.

Three main areas of profitability to look at:

  1. Product Profitability - the revenue products generate versus the resources needed to service them.
  2. Organizational Profitability - measure the profitability of a branch or specific department.
  3. Customer Profitability - how profitable are your customer relationships? This allows you to target specific groups of people for marketing efforts.

Your finance department can help you get the data you need for the first two. You will need to use your CRM, MCIF or core system to help you with customer profitability.

Seek Guidance from Your Strategic Plan

Once you have this data, you can see what products, customers and business units are making or losing money for the company. This puts you in the driver’s seat for making smart decisions. However, you cannot start planning out campaigns on a whim. You must consult your institution’s strategic plan for guidance.

Your strategic plan should include these two key elements:

  1. The vision. It should answer the question “Who do we as a financial institution want to be five years from now?” It is a look at who you are versus who you want to be.
  2. Strategic objectives. These are things that will move you closer to the future state your vision outlines.

You need to know these two core elements in order to help make the vision come true. If your leadership has determined there is an opportunity in HELOCs, it doesn’t make sense to run campaigns that do not help achieve this goal. Knowing profitability helps you keep a clear view of what can make the biggest financial impact.

The Power to Say “No”

There’s also a bonus benefit of aligning profitability with your vision and strategic objectives: telling people “no.”. We all have those people who corner you in the break room or pop into your office with their latest great campaign idea. But now you can filter these ideas through your profitability metrics and desired strategic outcomes.

Them: “We need to fund some loans, let’s do a campaign for our free checking accounts!”

You: “I appreciate the enthusiasm. More free checking accounts would actually cost us money because we lose money on each account per year. We’d be much better off with a promotion for something more profitable.”


Them: “We need to grow our auto loan portfolio, let’s do a campaign!”

You: “I get it, loans make us money. But our strategic plan has put us on a path to become the premier home equity lender in our communities in three years. This deserves more of our marketing resources.”

So to review:

  1. Start by working with your CFO and finance department to get a profitability report for all your products and services at the very least. Customer profitability, branch and/or department profitability are each a bonus.
  2. Identify the products and services with the most potential.
  3. Consult your institution’s strategic plan to align marketing with your organization's path.
  4. For your products and services with the most profit potential, schedule a meeting with the department head or product manager to learn more about the product/service and how to make the most of the opportunity.

Where to go next

Once you know your most profitable products and customers, it's time to look at creating a campaign. The rest of this series of blog posts are focused on campaign research and strategy development, execution and determining the ROI of your campaign once it is complete.

"How do you run a marketing campaign? Where do you start? How do you measure ROI?" Our financial clients ask us these types of questions a lot. So we thought we'd put together a multi-post series about running a campaign from start to finish. This is...