Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

“I Want To Do It Myself!”

Update 8/23/16: NCUF recently held a #foundationchat on Twitter about member financial education. Though this was written prior to that discussion, many of the points are shared.

Very short background: My family has a vacation property we rent to guests during their travels. The audio/video components (TV, stereo, DVD, etc.) have detailed instructions for use. Of course, there’s always someone who thinks they know better, and rewires the system to their whims. Shockingly, it then doesn’t work right. Puzzled and embarrassed, they leave it and future guests complain the directions are wrong. Cue regular phone conversations troubleshooting and working around these modifications until I can get back to fix the “updates”.

Stereo systems aren’t the only thing people know better. Financial services, too. Members need your help, but, like most people, want to feel they are doing things themselves. How can you empower them while educating and guiding towards your services?

Think back to learning to ride a bicycle. Did your parents send you off the nearest black diamond cliff with nary a wave? If so, we need to talk, because you have stories to tell.

Typically, there’s a training period…with training wheels to protect against falls. That’s your financial education program. It’s a foolproof service for those who need careful guidance. But some people know how to ride a bicycle; they’re just not too confident. If you were wobbly, and I suggested putting the training wheels back on, how would you respond? Exactly.

Create a tiered education/action program for them as well. It’s no longer about rolling up and down the driveway; these members are riding down the easy trails (ie. taking first steps to managing their funds)! The steps taken now are their own, with suggestions by your team. If your member tips their bike, the credit union is equipped to catch and help get them pedaling again. Each consultation enables the member to go further on their own, with confidence and competency.

Every day I read about how credit unions are the leaders in financial education, that they can serve the role sorely needed in our society. The NCUF promotes it on their home page through grants, youth programs, and more. CU Social Good asks credit unions nationwide to share their stories. It’s all about the strategy! Just as you wouldn’t learn to ride a bike by reading a manual, so to it is with finances; action is what excites.

How are you empowering your members to use the financial stereo system efficiently?

Image credit: http://characters.wikia.com/wiki/File:Lion-king-simba.png

Millennials (And More) In A Time Machine

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Market to Millenials! Market to Gen Z! Are we repeating what has been done time and again?

We tend to look at generations as a snapshot in time. Let me explain: The oldest Gen Z (or whatever we call those youngsters with no knowledge of pre-Internet days) is not more than 20 or so, at the most. Millenials are in their 20s to mid-30s. Gen Xers are what we would call middle age. Boomers are close to or enjoying retirement (or lifelong work). Their parents are focused on the “golden years”, as we would say.

But what if we looked at them all from the same perspective, at the same point in time for each?

Let’s take a Millenial, Gen Z, Boomer, and Gen X and put them in a room together. The catch: They are all 25. Ok, we’ll say the room is bigger on the inside to address any temporal crises this may cause. So we have a gathering of identically-aged people, yet they are each from a different generation. The Boomer’s “present” is 1975, the Gen X is living in 1995, our Millenial is from this era, while the Gen Z representative has been plucked from 2025. Once we get over those awesome pants the Boomer is wearing, it’s down to business.

We could imagine asking them the same questions posed in publications today. “What can a financial institution do to appeal to your generation better?” “What are you looking for in a banking experience?” “Does feedback from friends and family influence your decisions, and in what way?”

Leave the social media, mobile banking, and other technology-based solutions on the table. These are tools, not strategies. Focus on the responses, the emotional aspect of decision-making. I wouldn’t be surprised if their answers are similar. Yes, feedback from friends is important (despite needing to actually call, write, or visit for some of our time-travelers). Having a safe and secure experience is essential (whether it be chip cards and a secure mobile app or a branch representative who respects your privacy). Appealing to all of them would be based in education, convenience, cost, and service. For me, a great customer service experience is #1 when choosing a business. Would anyone argue this has changed? Whether I’m corresponding by Pony Express or being guided through FaceTime, I expect top-notch service that respects me as a member.

We put a lot of time and effort into learning what it takes to appeal to the latest generation. I agree this is important. However, why reinvent the wheel, so to speak, if this task has been done time and again? How did you appeal to 25 year-olds 25 years ago? 50? I’d be willing to bet the fundamentals are unchanged. It’s just the means.

This sounds like a conversation for your upcoming board meeting. Ask your long-serving members to think back. Dig into the archives and pull up marketing plans from 1975 (or further!). What can you learn from this exercise? Have you been appealing to Millenials all along?

Hey, what’s old is new. NES Classic, Pokemon GO…even Tamagotchi has an app. Take your own old. It may just work great in today’s world.

Image credit: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/tardis/images/6289809/title/tardis-space-photo

Be Your Member’s Favorite Stalk…ahem, Tracker!

Update 8/18/16: During a recent National CU Foundation Twitter chat on financial wellness, I posed a question about how these credit unions are able to locate members who may not realize they need help.  Or not even know help is available…from anywhere.  Coastal FCU (Raleigh, NC, $2.6B) responded with: “A lot of it is data analysis. You look for indicators and warning signs in your member activity.”  They’re using the same concepts of Big Data which I discuss below, but for an amazing purpose: Helping their members who may not even know they need (or can get) help!  To paraphrase the end of this post, it sure sounds like they’re “maximizing the connection to their members” and “delivering a higher standard of service” for all of them!  How do you use data analysis to help your members?

Originally published on CUInsight.com

I know what you did last summer.

It’s funny to think how just a few years back, this was a terrifying proposition. “Oh no, our stalker knows!” Now, your stalker is any given friend who checked your Facebook profile. Or, more true to our topic…Facebook’s algorithms showed me your activities proactively. That hiking trip you took triggered markers that are similar between us. Facebook knew I would enjoy seeing your vacation photos.

This is one direct application of Big Data. It’s a topic so complicated that I could spend an entire year of posts delving into the principles. But I won’t (you’re welcome!). Instead, I’m going to try to offer some examples so you can understand the opportunities it presents.

By keeping a digital eye on everything I post, share, like, and comment upon, Facebook’s “Big Data” engine learns my preferences. Maybe I tend to Like many things one friend shares. That’s an easy conclusion; show me everything from that friend, because I’ll probably enjoy seeing it. What about that friend I haven’t spoken to in years, yet shares photos from Machu Picchu? Facebook knows I was there last year, so it’s likely I’ll be interested in seeing their adventure in the same place. More so, I always seem to share/comment on posts regarding ocean conservation. From what I say, Facebook knows I’m interested in environmental responsibility, so I’m going to see more of what friends say regarding this topic.

These examples are rather pedestrian. See a pattern, follow to result. Yet Big Data gets interesting when it starts drawing conclusions. Facebook can determine your political stance, religious beliefs (intensity or lack thereof), income level, and other character traits with stunning accuracy. It can figure out your emotional state, both short and long-term. This is why you get those anti-depressant/counseling ads when you’re feeling your worst and wedding planning ads after you’ve been in a rewarding relationship. A popular example of this predictive capability was when a department store sent a woman a baby catalog before she even knew she was pregnant.

Big Data isn’t just about having thousands of lines in a spreadsheet. It’s the ability to take all this data and gain valuable insights which can be put towards a better product/service offering. Like your member programs.

Too many credit unions I speak to have little to no tracking, no matter the program. I’m not talking Artificial Intelligence level analysis, just a few numbers to know what’s happening. Are your initiatives successful with the members you had hoped? What percentage of website visits results in a loan application? How do you compare to other institutions in performance metrics? And so on.

I’m a huge fan of data analysis because there is just so much information hidden within even the smallest datasets. Here’s an example from my business, starting with these data points:

  • # of member prospects
  • # unique visitors to website
  • # of sales/loans
  • # of members at credit union

From these four values, I can determine the following (with comparisons to all other credit unions for each):

  • Sales ratio
  • Unique visitors per 1,000 members
  • Prospects per 1,000 members
  • Prospect close rate on a rolling 60-day period (along with average close rate among all credit unions)
  • Sales per 1,000 members
  • And I can generate even more on demand

With access to your basic member information, you can easily determine dozens of behaviors and trends. Take your auto loans. Do members living in a certain ZIP code prefer Toyotas? Or do some ZIP codes have higher used car purchase ratios? You may even find that members with last names shorter than 5 letters, who also have your credit card and a CD, buy vehicles with a 10% higher down payment average than other groups. How can your marketing team take advantage of this new information? Sure, that’s a silly dataset, but it shows how much you can dig into what you already have.

Do all of your services meet the Big Data Test? Take the average member referral program. If you’re like the vast majority of credit unions, it requires a member and friend print out a PDF, fill it out by hand, then fax or bring it into a branch. Test results: Fail.

At the end of the day, embracing the ideas of Big Data helps to maximize the connection with your members, thus, delivering a higher standard of service at the lowest effort and cost. And isn’t that the goal of your credit union?

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