How Effective is your 2018 Marketing Plan?

Donovan Cronkhite
President, RJM

Posted On August 21, 2017

How Effective is your 2018 Marketing Plan?

As fall inevitably draws closer there are a few things that can be counted on. The leaves will turn, the days get shorter, and budget planning season will be here. While many departments may be able to refine a previous year’s budget for the coming year, marketing is an area where a fresh look is due consistently. A clean slate and a new perspective of your customers will give you advantages and insights that you may not have seen in previous years.

Marketing Plan Shortcomings

From our experiences, we’ve learned that marketing plans fail for five major reasons. Each of these lead to the inability to uncover and exploit new opportunities, to your new plan looking amazingly similar to last year’s, and lost opportunities simply because they weren’t recognized.

  1. Time constraints

    Everyone is incredibly busy and naturally have the tendency to work on exciting projects first. Thus, the marketing plan falls to when time is of the essence and basing the new plan after the old gets the job done on time.

  2. We’ve always done it that way

    Fear of the unknown is real, and sometimes warranted. Staying with the tried and true means that no great gains will be seen, but no real losses either.

  3. Product focused

    Individuals spent an average of 456.1 minutes each day consuming media in 2016. (Zenith, 2016) Concentrating on a single media means that you’re missing a wide audience that is more spread out than ever.

  4. Chasing the competition

    Mirroring the competition is often cheap market research. Following another bank into a tactic means that someone thought it was a good idea, but doesn’t mean it’s right for you.

  5. Personal preferences

    When our own opinions and biases lead the media plan, the target audience looks a lot like us and not our customer.

Don’t let the pace of the industry set the pace of your marketing plan

Community banks are not Silicon Valley. This is not the land of daily disruption and new technologies. However, your customers are changing and moving. A stagnate marketing plan repeated for too long won’t be able to capitalize on changes, not just in the industry, but in the world. High-speed Internet is much more affordable and accessible in rural areas now, which is a change that has occurred only in the last few years. This is propelling a shift in media consumption that must be considered.

Know Your Customer

Your marketing efforts can only be effective if they affect your customer. That means that you not only need to reach them where they are, but deliver the message that resonates with them. If your bank hasn’t reached out to customers lately to talk directly, this should be the year you do. Before a marketing decision is made, gain insights from your customers. What are they looking for? Where do they learn about new products and companies? What do they want and need from their community bank?

Getting to know your customer doesn’t have to be complicated. Frontline staff can help with an informal survey that feels more like a conversation. Loan officers are talking with customers each day. Have them be an on the ground force that provides market research and direction to your 2018 marketing plan.

The Evolution of Conventional Mediums

While what we’re experiencing in the media landscape may feel like change, what we’re really seeing is disruption. The basics of marketing haven’t changed. Product, price, promotion and place are still as essential today as they were in the 1940’s when the mix was coined. But the way that they’re being delivered is being disrupted quickly and constantly.


With high speed Internet reaching more rural areas and unlimited cell phone data plans coming back into vogue, radio is branching out to include options like Pandora and Spotify. In addition to their increasing popularity, they come with another advantage: the percentage of people who admit to changing the channel during commercial breaks on traditional AM/FM stations is 71%. On Pandora, the number drops to 39%. (MediaPost Communications, 2016) Even talk radio is coming back in a different form. 20% of US adults ages 18-49 listen to at least one podcast per month. (comScore and Wondery, 2016)


Video, in some format, is still a popular media. While you may be used to the traditional 30 second spot delivered over broadcast or cable TV channels, this year 74% of all online traffic will be online video. (Kleiner Perkins, 2016). Even more surprising, 85% of all the video content on Facebook is watched without sound. And that is 85% of over 100 million hours of video watched on Facebook each day. (TechCrunch, 2016) This may seem staggering until you consider that over 500 million hours of video is watched on YouTube each day. (Business Insider, 2016)

Word of Mouth

Social media is the new town square. It’s how customers keep in touch with family, friends, acquaintances, and sometimes just random people from high school. Word of mouth reviews and recommendations aren’t what they used to be. Though social media is often considered a compliance minefield, it can be a great extension of your community efforts.

The buzz around brands on social media currently is the need to be real. What better way to be real than to show your very real commitment to your community. Creating and managing the content is often the second stumbling block on social. Within your community involvement lies a mine of content waiting to be dug into, and every ounce of it is real.

Direct Mail

Even in 2012, the New York Times found that 48% of all mail had become what was coined “junk mail”.  Sometimes though, all you need to stand out in a crowded field is a bit of creativity. First mover advantage doesn’t always mean that you must enter a new and unproven media. With a bit of creativity in size, shape, packaging and design, an old media is ripe for its own disruption.


The black and white hardcopy news source has been widely reported as being in decline for the last 28 years. However, digital subscriptions have seen incredible rises. Companies like the Chicago Tribune has seen a 76% increase year-over-year for their digital newspaper subscription service. (Pew Research Center, 2017) How are your customers getting their local news today?

Looking forward to 2018

Your customers will have the ultimate say in whether your marketing plan succeeds or fails. It is important that the basis of the plan is rooted in their behavior. After talking with them, if you’re still having trouble getting a fresh perspective on your 2018 plan, consider asking some of the following questions:

  • What might we do if we set aside 20% of our budget just to delight our customers?
  • What’s stopping us from advertising in a new media this year (this could be anything, from movie theatres, to Facebook)?
  • How might we answer our customer’s questions better?

It’s easy to start 2018’s marketing plan by opening up the 2017 plan and asking what needs to be updated. But this year, try opening a blank document and asking what is going to affect our customer and make a difference