I recently saw some news, pretty good news I believe, concerning financial industry marketing budgets. Now, I can't help but reminisce a bit at the mention of the word “budget.”
Back in my ad agency days, never a day passed without some conversation about budgets. Your survival, of course, depended on it; the client’s budget, that is. Every one of us in the creative department was either working or worrying; working to grow the brand and the business, or worrying that the client might find a reason to cut their budget. A cut could come for any number of reasons, but more often than not it was a downturn in the economy.
Maybe I’m imagining it, but it seemed easier back then to know when those cuts would come. And maybe that’s because when the economy was good, you knew it was good. Conversely when it was bad you knew it was bad. Not today. There seem to be some very different opinions about the state of things these days…
I’ll start with the bringers of bad news. According to the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects Report: “Amid the war in Ukraine, surging inflation, and rising interest rates, global economic growth is expected to slump and several years of above-average inflation and below-average growth are now likely. It’s a phenomenon—stagflation—that the world has not seen since the 1970s.” Doesn’t exactly make your day, does it?
But then I read this; a July 1 American Banker article entitled “PNC Financial CEO ‘confused’ about market’s recession worries, impact on banks” where PNC Chairman, President and CEO William Demchak stated: “I am personally confused about all the concern that sits out there on banking reserves and the coming recession and the impacts on profitability of banks.” According to the article, many in the financial industry agree with Mr. Demchak. "Little of the data I see tells me the U.S. is on the cusp of a recession," said Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser. "Consumer spending remains well above pre-COVID levels with household savings providing a cushion for future stress and, as any employer will tell you, the job market remains very tight." Robert Bolton, president of the bank investor Iron Bay Capital, shared Fraser’s optimism: “A lot of the bankers I’ve met with are still pretty confident, and that’s based on what they’re seeing with credit quality and hearing from their commercial clients in terms of positive sentiment. Businesses are growing, hiring.” Peter Sefzik, Comerica’s Executive Director of Commercial Banking, agrees: “Overall, we feel like the sentiment of our customers is still pretty good at this time. Our pipeline is strong. Our activity levels are good, so it's hard to see any sort of immediate concerns.”
Since I would much rather believe good news than bad, I’m going to go with the optimists on this one!
I also read, just recently, that banks are going back to spending on marketing; moving those dollars that were being spent on Mar-Tech over the last year or so back to spending on building their brand and selling products. comcouncil.org says that “average marketing spending across industries has increased to 9.5% of overall company revenue this year. Financial services firms lead the way with the highest marketing budget at 10.4% of company revenue, up from 7.4% in 2021.”
While this is good news in terms of a bank’s ability to market itself, it can create challenges for community banks with limited resources. With more marketing dollars to spend, but no new hires planned for the immediate future, a community bank’s in-house marketing team can quickly find itself overwhelmed. When the objective is to grow the customer base and share of wallet through digital channels and better digital engagement — in other words, to do more with less — where can bank marketers turn for the marketing communication content they need?
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As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.