Our recent digital marketing planning engagements with banks and credit unions revealed a troubling trend.

CEOs don’t trust financial marketers.

Digital growth doesn't have to feel confusing.

And this finding is not just isolated to our primary research.

According to the Fournaise Marketing Group, four out of five CEOs don’t trust marketers. However, 91% of CEOs trust CIOs and CFOs because they are 100% ROI-focused.

As I mentioned before, we've seen this repeatedly with clients we’ve guided through a Digital Growth Blueprint engagement. I also understand that historically financial marketers have been viewed internally as “kids who play with paint and crayons."

Within the walls of the marketing department, financial marketers feel as though they are “nothing more than an on-demand, in-house Kinkos" to meet the printing and production needs of external departments.

Become a Profit Center

Statements like these are the reason we’re on a mission to help financial marketers simplify digital marketing and empower them to grow their banks and credit unions from good to great.

However, a CEO's lack of trust in marketing is understandable as it’s been almost near impossible for legacy marketing systems to demonstrate the value marketing creates on the bottom line. And because marketing can’t prove their value, they’re viewed by CEOs and CFOs as a cost center.

This perspective must change.

Marketing, thanks in part to digital technology and distribution channels, is destined to become a profit center that delivers quantifiable, bottom-line growth. Predictions we made three years ago have become a reality as some of our bank and credit union clients are starting to see their CMO shift into a new role...

The Chief Growth Officer.

The Rise of the Chief Growth Officer

In the past, all strategic planning was centralized around the CEO. However, the legacy organizational structures are no longer applicable in today’s rapidly changing digital economy. As a result, CEOs are looking to other C-level team members for strategic support, direction, and guidance.

Marketing must be included in these discussions of the strategic direction of a financial institution.

But we continue to find that’s just not the case for many banks and credit unions.

Steven McConnell, an expert in the recruiting industry, shares a similar perspective. “For CFOs, gone are the days of number crunching to get ahead. The majority of CEOs want CFOs that are true company strategists. Same for CMOs.”

In our digital marketing planning engagements, we’ve helped banks and credit unions restructure their marketing organization charts around new roles like the Chief Growth Officer.

The Role of the Chief Growth Officer

Traditionally, a CMO believes they create value through “branding” or “demand generation.”

But let’s be honest.

It’s hard to measure the impact of real, meaningful, bottom-line outcomes when reporting vanity metrics like reach, shares, clicks, views, and likes.

“As long as marketers continue to position themselves as experts in advertising, brand positioning, millennials, and the latest digital fads – instead of being growth drivers – we’ll see more CMO positions disappear,” shared Thomas Barta, marketing leadership expert and co-author of The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader.

The Fournaise Marketing Group reported 71% of marketers measure marketing effectiveness with KPIs like visits, views, opens, clicks, likes, etc., while 86% of marketers mistake engagement for conversion.

So what should marketers be measuring and reporting then?

Simplified, CEOs are looking for three quantifiable bottom-line results:

1. Leads
2. Loans
3. New accounts

But who is responsible for assisting marketing to help achieve these goals? The fragmented departmental structures that exist today in many banks and credit unions is a challenge because pre-existing responsibilities and duties must be discarded.

To keep things focused, let's just look at two revenue generating functions: marketing and sales.

In its most simplistic form, marketing has two roles:

1. Control the brand message
2. Generate leads

And as leads come in, sales must take ownership to:

1. Nurture leads
2. Convert leads

This is where the Chief Growth Officer (CGO) provides guidance and direction to create quantifiable, bottom-line driven value creation that is centered around the entire consumer journey.

Working across the organization to help alleviate the pre-existing intra-departmental friction, CGOs break down internal silos to align marketing, sales, business development, operations, and IT.

And just as important, the CGO is the single individual appointed to oversee the transition of leads from marketing to the sales. 

Chief Growth Officers Elevate Marketing's Strategic Role

The job description doesn't just stop at breaking down internal barriers and improving internal processes. The Chief Growth Officer provides focus and clarity on addressing the questions, concerns, hopes, and dreams of their key consumer personas. 

Additionally, CGOs lead the initiative to move their financial institution beyond the commoditized promotion of “great rates” and “amazing service” by positioning the bank or credit union as the helpful guide in the consumer’s financial journey.

To elevate the marketing department's strategic status within the organization and move beyond an overworked in-house Kinkos, marketers must hold themselves accountable and to higher standards as profit or growth centers.

With digital marketing for banks and credit unions, marketers can help CEOs and CFOs know that for every dollar they invest in marketing, they can forecast X more dollars in return.

And if they don’t see the expected return, a marketer can analyze and explain what happened, optimize their processes, and pull different levers to get better results going forward.

Transform Your Marketing Department

As banks and credit unions continue to shift their focus towards strategic digital growth, there has never been a better opportunity to transform your marketing department.

You know the impact digital marketing will have on your future growth. But there’s a big difference between knowing something and knowing how to implement it.

I understand digital marketing can feel confusing, frustrating, and overwhelming.

But it doesn’t have to.

And you don’t have to do it alone.

One of the ways we do this is through our Digital Growth Jumpstart Training Program. This is not an online course but a transformative training and consulting program designed exclusively for banks and credit unions.

The practical “how to” insights and proven framework you learn in the Digital Growth Jumpstart Training Program will help you grow from good to great just as it has helped 800+ other financial marketers to generate more leads for loans and new accounts.

Some financial marketers have even invited their CEO to join them in the Program as they’ve found this helped improve the internal perception of marketing while also gaining executive buy-in and commitment for digital growth.

Together with the support of their CEO, these financial marketers have broken free from the legacy marketing systems and thinking that once held them back as they’ve transformed their marketing departments from a cost center in a profit center.

And as a result, their CEOs respect them.

Maybe the Digital Growth Jumpstart Training Program can help you, too.

What do you think?