Blue and orange noise waves photo by daria durandIn the day-to-day rush, it’s easy to get dazzled by new, shiny ideas. Business leaders can find themselves asking, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a new video?” or plunging headlong into planning a special event with lots of glitz—without asking how success will be measured and if the effort will move the company toward its goals.

The next time you find yourself—or others in your financial institution—rushing to an exciting new purchase or initiative or tchotchke, use this handy list to ask some probing questions.

Better questions up front lead to better longterm strategy.

  1. Why are we thinking about doing this?
  2. What are the measurable outcomes we seek?
  3. Does this move us closer to our business goals?
  4. How does this support our:
    • brand
    • operations
    • values
    • mission
  5. How does it affect our:
    • customers
    • suppliers
    • prospects
    • sponsors or supporters
  6. What do we NOT want to have happen?
  7. What is the risk if we do this thing?
    • reputational
    • operational
    • legal
  8. What is the risk of not doing this thing?
  9. What is the risk if we delay?
  10. Who are potential allies who would support or share it?
  11. Who/what are potential threats to our institution, and does this minimize them?
  12. Do we have adequate person-power and budget to execute it well?
  13. If we need help, can we get buy-in, or will it be a tough sell?
  14. If this has been done before (by us or another bank), was it successful, and why?
  15. Are we simply being a copycat brand?
  16. If this was attempted and failed, why?
  17. How can we do it better?
  18. Does this need to have staying power or simply be a short-term sales promotion?
  19. Could this be used for multiple purposes?
  20. Should we test before making a decision to commit?

Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat

Not every idea merits 20+ questions. But skipping over them is like building a house without a foundation. If you build the habits of asking WHY when an enticing idea appears, you'll create organizational discipline and a high-impact team.

Brainstorming is beneficial. Kicking around ideas and asking “What if?” is fun and can bring about some breakthrough innovations. But without taking the time to objectively consider their merit, it’s easy get off track, spend too much and never arrive where you want to be.

If you need a financial marketing agency to partner with you on outcomes-based, strategic marketing programs, contact Martha Bartlett Piland, CFMP to get started: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or direct at 785.969.6203.