The disconnect between marketing and strategy can block community banks from seeing the best options
There’s a disconnect between strategy and marketing in many banks that suddenly matters more than ever. In the past, marketing lived beneath the executive level, and that was just fine. Marketing worked more as an operations group, servicing the requests from branch managers and line executives.
Today successful companies drive strategy with data. The C-Suite’s success hinges on their ability to see the strategic opportunities buried in the data. Those insights may be lost if the analytics and the strategy are not directly engaged.
The recent uptick in Chief Marketing Officer positions shows that banks are starting to promote marketing to a strategic level that has every right to stand next to the other “chiefs.” But this is only happening in a small percentage of banks so far.
One reason this is becoming so important is that specialization has become one of the best options to attract customers in this emerging self-serve world. Specialization could start to transform banking the way it has done to health management where generalists serve primarily as gateways to specialists.
Banks are not likely to “see” bank specialization as a viable bank strategy. Because specialization is fundamentally a marketing strategy, seeking to “advertise” the bank with a specialty service that will wow customers and attract new ones. These are in the “marketing” wheelhouse because they relate to deep dive data research and clever analytical review about where bank expertise best meets customer need in the local community. They are much more strategic, more data driven, and bank-transforming than the typical marketing campaign, thus needing resources at the executive table who have the perspective to make it work.
An “operations” approach to marketing simply will not have the executive perspective to lead a bold program like this. Meaning banks without a CMO or without expert consulting advisors probably will not take advantage of this powerful strategy.
No matter a bank’s opinion on branch or bank specialization, banks would miss a real possibility to navigate through this current disrupted period. They owe it to their stakeholders because it could be one of the few strategies out there for banks to get away from the fight for financial technology leadership.
It is a strategy based on local service, an area where Community Banks already stand out.