It’s a question many marketing vice presidents ask, especially as they find themselves trying to juggle so many projects and make the most of their resources. Are you wondering if you need to hire another person, or maybe outsource some tasks? And are other marketing directors this frazzled? (spoiler alert: yes!)

To provide some perspective, let’s take a look at how some of our clients staff their departments (names have been changed to protect the innocent).

Small marketing department, large geographic coverage

Take our client Millie for example. She’s the VP of Marketing for a community bank with $1 billion in assets. She’s got nine locations within 400 miles. 400 miles! The bank has grown quickly since she started four years ago when she was the sole person tasked with marketing. How in the world does she find the time to strategize, manage, and then implement all of the marketing tactics?

She has one additional marketing person on staff and several well-trusted vendors and yes, she’s still frazzled more days than not. The staffer takes care of non-techy website updates, social media posts, event planning, promotional item management – those detailed tasks which are hard to outsource. Their vendors provide printing, video production, signage, photography, media buying and so much more. We enjoy collaborating with this client on all sorts of marketing projects including strategy, branding, writing scripts, graphic design and those all-important venting sessions. Sometimes our clients just need a shoulder to lean on….

Large marketing department – is it all in-house?

But let’s look at a client who’s on the opposite end of the staffing spectrum. They are a $4 billion credit union with 25 locations within 100 miles. At last count, they have 14 people in their advertising and marketing groups. 14! And that doesn’t count the business development activities so many credit unions put within marketing. This credit union has a separate business development group (those who call on current and potential service groups) AND a separate community involvement group.

Why so many people? This credit union took a specific step many years ago to stop using an agency and bring those activities in-house. They immediately saw a more cost-effective use of their advertising budget as their TV and radio ad buys no longer had a middle man. They also created more value by bringing in a copywriter and a graphic designer. They’ve since added a significant digital marketing and advertising group in addition to their data analysts, project managers, traffic coordinators, and others. They do still outsource certain projects and functions, including the creation of larger advertising campaigns, as well as some smaller design and writing projects. This client likes to use us for researching and ghostwriting newsletter articles, as well as for some specific graphic design projects.

Small marketing department at a large credit union – do they outsource?

So maybe the size of the staff relates to asset size? Well, we’ve worked with a $3 billion credit union client with 28 locations within 175 miles and they only have five staffers with marketing in their title. Yep, that’s right, only five. They outsource quite a bit, to say the least.

So why does one large credit union have so many marketing staffers and the other so few? The difference between these two really comes down to how they approach growth and what value they place on their branding. One credit union has grown using a merger strategy. The other has grown through a well-researched initiative to expand their geographic footprint. Growing into areas which need a lot of brand awareness takes a lot of marketing and advertising. That’s the credit union which also highly values their brand, working hard to keep it consistent, polished and ever-present. Those types of efforts take skills and resources to maintain.

How then do you decide what size staff YOU need? Seriously. What sort of parameters or guidelines should you use? Take a hard look at your organization’s culture and growth strategy. Those two aspects alone will give you a good feel for what your credit union or community bank can do.

Some organizations want to stay lean and prefer to outsource. Some want more control and bring talent in-house. Where do you think your financial institution lies?

Hopefully these peeks inside a few of our clients’ departments have helped you see what it’s like at other credit unions and community banks. If you’d like to see more, here’s a Spectrio study of 200+ financial institutions and their marketing departments.

And when you’re feeling frazzled, may it help to know that so many other marketing people are feeling the same! Just lean on your support team and find moments of zen when you can! Need a support team? Our shoulders are always ready to share your loads – call us!