A good marketer has to be a great planner

I was intrigued to read that one of our high street banks will be selling its customer data to other businesses. Closer inspection of the story revealed this to be a typical sensationalist headline and the reality is that it will simply be using its vast knowledge of a significant proportion of the population to amalgamate data to help others better target their products.

Secret Marketer

Now this is interesting on two counts. First, at a time when the retail banking sector’s reputation is at an all-time low, is the bank in question wise to take such a PR risk by embarking on such a plan? And second, the fact that it wasn’t doing this already.

I started my career at a retail bank. In those days, bankers were regarded as just as arrogant and short-sighted as they are today. When I was there, we simultaneously introduced ATMs in the walls of branches as a way to cut queues inside the branch, and launched the sale of pensions and life products over the counter. We were surprised when counter-clerks failed to cross-sell as many of these new products as we’d predicted in the business case.

The flaw in our plan – by moving transactions outside to the ATM there was no one to cross-sell to – wasn’t picked up. Why? Because the two decisions were taken by two different silos. In my current business our marketing plan clearly spells out all the initiatives we are doing and when. We insist on a business case for every activity – that in turn requires sign-off from both the business and marketing leadership teams, and we have a weekly summary email of all the marketing initiatives we have delivered that week and are planning for the weeks ahead. Although my team moan about completing these, the discipline it brings and the awareness we achieve in the wider business of what we are doing, is incredible. We are able to spot ‘car crashes’ before they happen, and it helps to demonstrate our value to the business. 

Good marketer have to be great planners and fantastic project managers. Above all, they need to be world-class communicators. I’m amazed that one of the most revered brands in the world would forget these basic principles.

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