Before focusing my attention on retail financial services branding, I spent the majority of my marketing career working with and for traditional retailers. Retail marketing and advertising is not for the faint of heart. No other category of business is judged so tightly as retail, where success is measured in comparative daily sales year over year.

With that monkey-on-the back looming over the marketing department, it’s very tempting to spend precious advertising dollars in one way – driving daily foot traffic with promotional events and price/item messages.

While some chains may attribute their growth to a sales event-only strategy, one only has to look at the major category players to recognize that these successful retailers run a boatload of brand messages to separate themselves from the pack. They have recognized their conundrum… that you have to brand for the long haul, but drive traffic in the short term… mostly to satisfy Wall Street. So they find their way into a balanced approach to their messaging.

Have you thought about your credit union’s balance of messaging? Perhaps it’s worthy of exploration. There are many ways to slice the spend. Such as:

  • branding vs. promotion
  • acquisition vs. retention
  • products vs. services
  • blast vs. direct
  • traditional vs. digital/social
  • media delivery vs. in-branch
  • credit union business vs. community
  • internal vs. external
  • network-wide vs. market focus
  • one target market vs. another

I’m sure you can think of other elements for comparison. The balancing act becomes even more dicey when you add the dimensions together. For instance… branding in media vs. branding in the branch. You can start to imagine the complexity.

How do you go about balancing your messages? Maybe you do it around seasonality? Or, maybe you put all of your horses in a single race? I’m betting there’s a good chance you do it the way you do because that’s the way you did it last year.  And the year before… the “that’s the way we’ve always done it” syndrome.

For 2013, I encourage you to shake things up. View your advertising through a new set of lenses. Experiment with different formulas. No two credit unions will end up with the same balance… that’s OK, just don’t get caught tipping the scale too much in one direction, or you may end up getting the same results you always do.