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Elements of a Bank Marketing Plan

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Okay, I will admit that I can  go a little overboard on my marketing plans. I am the kind of person who likes to make lists and organize just about everything. So, I believe in developing a comprehensive marketing plan that is a real blueprint for the coming year. And, I usually add to it as we go.

For people who like short and sweet, it may be a bit much. But, it’s worked great for me and the banks where I’ve managed marketing. So, with that bit of insight out of the way, let’s talk about the elements of a comprehensive marketing plan and you can decide for yourself which elements make sense for your bank’s plan.


Elements I Recommend Be a Part of Your Bank Marketing Plan:

  •  Market Position Statement
  • The Role of Marketing
  • Marketing Functions
  • Marketing Functions by Position
  • Overall Marketing Plan
  • Detailed Project Plans
  • Major Marketing Projects Calendar
  • Marketing Budget

Other Items that You May Include in Your Plan:

  • The bank’s statement of values and mission statement
  • A market analysis for each of your markets (if this is not a part of bank’s business plan)
  • Analysis of your products, services, delivery channels
  • Current market research, customer service surveys and other bank research you have available.
  • Overall, ongoing marketing goals, reviewed and updated annually
  • Event calendars (employee, customer, community and shareholder)
  • Logo/brand guidelines
  • Brand positioning, brand promise and brand personality (usually incorporated into the Market Position Statement)


1. Market Position Statement

This is a basic description of what your bank stands for and how you are different from your competitors. This statement is developed in conjunction with your bank’s senior management and serves as a basis for all that you do. Here are some key questions to ask when developing your Market Position Statement:

  • Characteristics of your bank/approach to doing business?
  • What is your bank/brand personality?
  • What differentiates you from your competitors?
  • Which communities? Geographic areas?
  • Who do you serve? Key market segments?
  • Your primary products and services?
  • Use of technology/level of innovation?
  • Pricing strategy?
  • Bank management style?
  • Special expertise of employees?
  • Focus of your training/focus of your employee recognition?


2. The Role of Marketing at X Bank

This is an overview of how marketing works at your bank and what falls under marketing. As you know, marketing’s role varies widely from bank to bank. If the role at your bank is not clearly defined, your managers’ perceptions will default to whatever was practiced at their last employer. Once you have a final statement approved by your President, ask him/her to endorse it publicly. Provide a copy to all bank officers and have it included in HR’s new officer packet. This document will change over time as marketing changes and your management’s vision for Marketing evolves.

  • What functions fall under Marketing?
  • What authority does Marketing have?
  • What has to be reviewed by Marketing?
  • What has to be approved by Marketing?
  • Basically, how does marketing work at your bank?

3. Marketing Functions at X Bank

This is a simple visual diagram of the primary functions that fall under marketing at your bank. See my separate post on marketing functions for more info.


4. Marketing Functions by Position

 If you have other marketing staff, it is helpful to create a visual diagram of what each person in your department does.

  • Clarifies roles.
  • Prevents things from dropping thru the cracks.
  • Helps bank staff know who to go to when manager is not available.
  • Saves time for marketing staff and bank managers.

5. Overall Marketing Plan

This plan outlines your department’s major focus for the year. Senior management will rarely take the time to read an epistle (I know this from experience) so limit this one to 3-5 pages, if possible. It is really a big picture view your primary goals and projects for the year.  Save the details for your specific implementation plans that you develop later.

  • List the primary goals your bank has for the coming year that apply to marketing.
  • Briefly address how marketing will support each of these goals.
  • List other major marketing goals for year.
  • Briefly describe marketing’s major projects and key initiatives that support these goals.
  •  List any major changes you plan to make within marketing.

6. Major Marketing Projects Calendar

I highly recommend that you create a quarterly calendar listing all major projects for your department. Each month, it provides a quick overview of all projects by category. This type of calendar is central to everything you do in marketing. It also serves as a guide as you develop your budget and prepare your written plans.

  • Better Marketing Management
  • Ensures you have a promotion plan for every month and all of your communication vehicles are covered
  • Reduces scheduling conflicts
  • Helps marketing plan ahead and schedule work
  • You can easily move projects to other months
  • Great budgeting tool
  • Better In-bank Communications
  • Department heads know what to expect each month
  • Clearly demonstrates the breadth of marketing responsibilities.

7. Project Implementation Plans

These are basically detailed plans for all of your major projects, and they serve as implementation guides. Complex plans often include task lists outlining key tasks, responsibilities and deadlines. Within these plans you should answer all the basic questions: Why? What are the goals? What are you going to do to meet those goals? How? When? What resources will be needed? How will you market/communicate to employees, customers, etc.? How will you measure success? There are several approaches you can take in developing these plans.

  • Plans based on the marketing function
    (Public Relations Plan, Advertising Plan, Sales Support Plan, Research Plan, etc.)
  • Plans based on products/product groups/delivery channels
    (Personal Deposit Accounts Promotion Plan, Personal Loans Promotion Plan, Business Services Plan, Online/Mobile Services Plan, etc.)
  • Plans bases on key market segments
    (Senior citizens, homebuyers, ethnic groups, small business, agricultural, retail merchants, etc.)
  • Plans for major projects and initiatives
    (Customer Appreciation BBQ Plan, Implementing an Onboarding Program, Introducing a New Website, Opening a New Branch, etc.)

It’s likely you will use more than one of these approaches, depending on your priorities for the year. For example, you may create an overall public relations plan as well as individual major event plans. While this will take a lot of effort the first year. But, for annual projects, each year you will simply review and update the plan, which simplifies the process.

8. Marketing Budget

Developing a detailed marketing budget is an important way to plan for all of your expenses. Some banks just give marketing an overall dollar amount and others want you to document every planned expense. Regardless of how your bank does it, you are still responsible for managing to the bottom line. I prefer developing a detailed budget for each marketing account and then monitoring actual expenses compared to budget. Once you put this system in place, it is easy to track variances and plan for each new budget year.


Items that Will Help You Prepare a Detailed, Realistic Marketing Budget

  • Your Major Marketing Projects Calendar
  • Notes from you meetings with the key users of your marketing services
  • Marketing planning session notes
  • Last year’s project files and notes on ways to improve
  • Your “Future Ideas File” full of ideas you’ve gathered over the past 12 months
  •  Last year’s budget and actual expenses (also helpful to keep copies of actual invoices for two years for reference)
  • Estimates and bids for any new proposals
  •  Inventory reports and usage patterns so you know what you need to re-order as well as updated bids on any ongoing inventory items

Benefits of a Comprehensive Budget

  • With real numbers, senior management can make budget decisions based on the value versus actual cost. Is this project worth it to the bank?
  • As you build accurate budgets (no padding), management will develop confidence in the numbers you provide in the future.
  • When your management adds a new program or campaign, you’ll be able to quickly gauge the impact on the budget and how much you will need to cut in other areas.

Common Marketing Budget Approaches

There are several ways that banks determine how much money they will allocate for marketing.

Common Methods Used to Create Bank Marketing Budgets

Common Methods Used to Create Bank Marketing Budgets

  • Objective and Task Method: The budget is developed based on the bank’s business goals as they related to marketing, major projects for the year and what marketing needs to accomplish. This is the method most marketers prefer. The amounts vary from year to year, depending on what is in the department’s to-do list.
  •  Percentage Method: This is an arbitrary number usually based on a percentage of assets (1/10th of 1%) or a percentage of revenue (10-12% of annual revenue) if the bank is not planning any major growth initiatives.
  • Competitive Parity Method: Budget is roughly based on what key competitors are spending, as estimated by your bank. This does not take into account differences in markets, bank strategies, goals, etc.
  • Incremental Method: Budget is set using a base amount plus an incremental increase each year, depending on inflation, current growth rate, or some other factor.
  • Some Combination: Commonly, banks use the percentage method to establish a target amount and then use the objective/task to determine how funds will be allocated within that amount.