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Smart social marketing starts with a SMART plan.

The secret to successful marketing is, of course, planning.  Before you spend a dollar, you want to have a comprehensive picture of your market. Who are your potential customers? Where will you find them?  What are they thinking? What should you say? What are your competitors saying? When is the best time to reach them?  And, how can you get your message to them in the most cost-effective manner? 

As a critical component of your overall marketing plan, social messaging deserves the same consideration as any marketing initiative.  While at face value, social seems easy; why, it’s nothing more than posting to Facebook, right? Well, unfortunately, it isn’t. 

So, where to begin.  Before you even consider posting to Instagram or opening a Facebook account, here is what you need to do first:

Set SMART goals

Step one of any planning process is always goal setting.  What are you looking to accomplish?  Perhaps your goal is to build brand awareness.  To generate qualified leads and drive sales.  To cross-sell new products or services to existing customers. Or, to improve customer retention. This is where a SMART goal-setting framework can be of tremendous help. Establishing such a framework will help you create meaningful, measurable, and achievable social media goals that will support your business in the long run.   What does SMART mean?  

  • Specific: A SMART goal must be specific. Goals that are specific are more readily measured, making it easier for you to track your success. 
  • Measurable: A SMART goal must be measurable. Reducing costs is a worthwhile goal, but it’s too vague.  “Reduce payment and deposit processing costs by 20%” is a goal that, by contrast, can be measured.
  • Attainable: A SMART goal should be attainable. Sometimes, you won’t be able to really determine the achievability of your goal until you’ve begun your efforts to accomplish it. If you set out with a goal to reduce your processing costs by 20% and find that you’re reduced those costs by 10% in the first month, you need to re-adjust your goal… aim higher!
  • Realistic: Is your goal a realistic one?  This is tied to “Attainable.”  20% reduction in cost seemed, initially, like a realistic and attainable goal.  Again, perhaps we should have aimed higher and still can. You can always change your goal if you discover early in the process that it isn’t as realistic as you thought.  
  • Time bound: Every goal needs both a start and a finish date. Without a completion date, there’s no way to measure success.

The idea is that goals must meet these criteria in order to be effective. Let’s look at an example. Your financial institution is currently spending time and money on paper statements and would like to convert your paper statement customers to e-statement customers. Doing so benefits your business not only through reduced hard costs, but through back-office processing costs, as well. 

You begin with a value statement that defines your goal for your customers: “We are an institution committed to 1) making banking with us as easy as possible and 2) sustainable practices and the preservation of our planet.”  This will drive your social media messaging.

Now, what exactly are you looking to achieve? Let’s say that in one year you want to achieve the following goal:  Convert 25% of paper statement customers to e-statement customers.

Here’s how your goal aligns with the S.M.A.R.T. framework:

  • Specific: You have set a specific conversion goal; 25%.
  • Measurable: Your progress toward this goal is easily measured.
  • Attainable: Is a bar set at 25% too low?  Too high?  The beauty of this framework is that your goals are measurable.  You will know, if you are tracking results – which you definitely must – if you’ve set too low a bar.  Converted 5% in the first 6 weeks? That’s a pretty good indication that you need to re-adjust your goal.
  • Relevant: Your goal has a direct impact on the world we live in. It’s topical.
  • Time bound: The goals have a set deadline: One year.

Now that you have an idea of how to set goals, next we’re going to talk about social media channels and what they have to offer in terms of helping you grow your business.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the development of effective marketing communication, that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. And with them, your brand. Like the below ads, for instance, recently added to our library of content.To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.



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7 Characteristics of a High-Functioning Marketing Team

Over the course of my many years in the ad agency world and working closely with Fortune 100 marketing departments, I’ve come to appreciate the difficulty of running a successful team… especially one where the product is not some widget that comes off an assembly line and sits on a shelf, but a product that is manufactured completely by collective brainpower. The marketing message is such a product. 

Marketing, at least according to marketing professionals (those in sales might disagree!), is the most critical function of any organization. Creating and running a well-oiled marketing machine is no mean feat because getting the most out of your marketing team hinges, of course, on getting the most out of each individual. And that means creating and maintaining the kind of culture that will enable you to attract and retain the best talent in the industry. Over the years, I’ve learned this:  Individual talent is nothing. Culture is everything.

As Forbes states in, Traits that define High-Performing Marketing Organizations, “people come and go, but organizations with staying power understand that there is something bigger and better than a group of qualified individuals. The underlying achievement of a team is bolstered by an alignment of values, core strengths and beliefs. Shared energy and passion build a collective power that aligns business goals with individual achievements. This synergy not only creates a culture of satisfaction, but also nurtures the bottom line of your entire organization.” So, are you ready to get the most out of your marketing team? Of course, you are. Here are some culture traits that you’d do well to foster:

  1.         Trustworthiness or “Psychological Safety*”

A critical trait for high-performing teams is a high level of comfort and trust among members. In short, do members of the team — as well as stakeholders integral to the marketing function — feel that they are able (not just able, but encouraged) to take risks without feeling insecure or embarrassed? If there is any risk-aversion in your marketing department, drum it out right away.  Individuals… teams… companies cannot succeed wit a culture of fear.

*What Google’s HR department calls it.

  1.         Self-Awareness

To put it bluntly, are you being completely honest with yourself in assessing your team’s capabilities? Self-awareness demands a keen and sometimes painfully honest understanding of each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and, of course, the collective strengths and weaknesses of the overall marketing team. Don’t be afraid (see #1 above) to, on a regular basis, take that brutally honest view of the team’s capabilities and make whatever talent adjustments are deemed necessary.

  1.         Empathy

The most talented marketing professionals are those who take an interest in their fellow human beings.  What is empathy? “The ability to understand and share the feelings of others.” Isn’t that understanding and sharing the very foundation of a relevant and compelling marketing message? It is. The most effective marketers are students of human nature who have a passion for learning about the consumer… how they think and what motivates them to act. 

  1.         An Eagerness to Learn

Speaking of learning, true marketing professionals understand that the tenets of the marketing craft are not etching in stone tablets. Marketing is a dynamic discipline. The marketing team leaders who excel are those who are constantly aware of the importance of “psychological safety” while fostering a culture of continuous learning. It’s only through an environment that encourages risk-taking that team members can continue to develop and contribute at greater levels.

  1.         Celebrating failure

Highly effective teams always “celebrate” their failures. They take the time to understand what went wrong, learn from that experience and move on. This self-reflection must not only be valued but also celebrated and encouraged. The Harvard Business Review even goes as far as to say that “failure is not always bad. In organizational life it is sometimes bad, sometimes inevitable, and sometimes even good. We must recognize that there is significantly more information in our failures than in our successes. If we celebrate our failures, we will not repeat them.”

  1.         Impact of work

Does everyone on your team truly believe that the work they do matters? High-performing marketing teams have a profound passion for excellence and want to know that their work has an impact that is, well, appreciated. This is work that requires passion which means that done properly, a significant amount of “heart and soul” goes into it. Recognition of this fuels the team’s work and can help spur them on during challenging times... of which, there are always many.

  1.         Structure & Clarity

Are goals, roles, and execution plans clear to the team? It’s important that objectives— from the project-specific to the long-term departmental — as well as the strategies for achieving them, be clearly communicated and constantly reinforced. Team members are more comfortable in a predictable environment and that comfort level will enhance their performance.

Building and maintaining an organizational culture that can attract and retain top marketing talent is always a work in progress. But remember, the goal isn’t so much to reach a destination as it is to, instead, enjoy the journey.

About Bank Marketing Center

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the development of effective marketing communication, that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. And with them, your brand. Like this retirement strategy ad campaign, for instance, recently added to our library of content.