Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: marketing (page 1 of 10)

The Best, Most Innovative Blog Post Ever Shared

Be honest. We all exaggerate. In our personal lives and in business. Just look at an online dating site. Yeah, you’re making $250,000+ and spend most of your time traveling to exotic destinations, supporting charitable causes in each place. Oh, and you happen to look like (insert your ideal here). Weird, all your photos look professionally done.

Or, on your resume. I’m sure you did great work at that last credit union, but did you really “implement a company-wide program which resulted in a 78% improvement of job satisfaction, while increasing member engagement by 47%”?

If you’re the person to whom these are both true, we should meet. And I’m not saying exceptional people or businesses don’t exist. But that’s the thing, they’re exceptional, which tends to mean, “uncommon”. If you have to ask if you or your credit union fits the definition, it doesn’t. Sorry.

So why do we position ourselves as “the best”, “the most innovative”, or “the only”? I’ve been guilty of it, too. It’s something I try to recognize, as it immediately detracts from the message I wish to convey. We all can have great ideas, but none of us always have the best ideas. Yet doing it makes us believe we are now in a position to offer valuable insights. “Sure, you can listen to them, but since I’m the best, you might want to heed my advice…just saying.”

It doesn’t work that way. Thought-leaders become such by being thought-leaders, not by saying they are.

Where am I going with this post? Great question. If you’re reading this, you’re probably affiliated with the credit union industry. Or you’re my mom. Assuming the former, you are familiar with the exceptionalism claimed by credit unions. I get it. You know you are the better option for much of your community. I know you are, too. But the way to attract them is not by saying how great you are. Think about it this way: How many ads do you see/hear each day? How many of them implore that their service/product is the greatest ever and you need to buy it now? Exactly. As a result, you’ve grown numb to the message. “Introducing the best…”, “We’re the greatest…”, “Try the life-changing…”, blah, blah, blah.

I visit a lot of credit union websites, and interact with even more though social channels. One thing I consistently see is this exceptionalism. I know you live it and truly believe, but saying you are the “only” financial institution to “go out of its way every day to value you as a person, to make you feel delight, and to improve your life” comes across a bit unbelievable. There are around 6,000 credit unions in the US alone. Do you really think none of the others seek to do the same? I’m unfairly picking on this credit union, since they are just the most recent I’ve seen making such statements.

What can you do instead? A local CU near me (not a member, but my closest branch, so I use them for certain activities), Tropical Financial, connects with each visitor. Their home page begins, “We’re banking on South Florida to help you feel good about banking. The same way a warm cup of coffee makes you feel.” (Sidenote: A future. AI. improvement. would note that I don’t drink coffee, but rather tea, and change the text for me) The call to action is, “Help me feel good about banking.” It’s great in every way. It is unique. It appeals to emotions in a way nearly everyone can relate. Without saying, “we are the best at banking in South Florida”. They’re assuming visitors have felt that banking isn’t always pleasant, and who doesn’t want to feel like they do after a warm cup of coffee? (Point to show even good efforts aren’t perfect: Their site title says, “Tropical Financial is Miami Florida’s Best Credit Union”…though that might be for SEO – UPDATE: Tropical FCU responded that is exactly the reason!)

Saying you’re the best, hardest-working, and most caring and honest institution around feels like marketing. Asking someone if they want to feel great doesn’t. Much how you shouldn’t promote your auto lending by saying, “we have the greatest rates EVER!”, the credit union itself deserves a more thoughtful public image. It’s people you want to attract, not loans or share accounts or credit cards. People, who then will use those services you provide.

Take a look at your public (and internal) messaging. Does any of it sound like something every other credit union has said? Evolve. Be exceptional. It will be noticed.

Insights In 160 Characters…Or Less

Full posts are overrated. Ok, that’s not true. They are essential to delve into an issue beyond surface discussions. However, there’s also a time for brevity. Short and sweet, as you could say. I’ve found that much of my best wisdom has originated, spur of the moment, in a Twitter post or reply. If only I were as witty and intelligent in the rest of my life!

There has been a trend lately in terms of topics discussed, both for myself and the industry as a whole. Social Media and Big Data. I’ve written a lot of articles about both, but, let’s be honest. You wouldn’t read them even if they were linked here. However, I might get you to read a series of tweets which spur some new ways of thinking. Ready? Too bad…we’re off!

Social Media

On replying to online criticism/comments:

On producing content your members want to see:

On the difference between good and unique:

On catching attention, in almost any way you can:

On what (actually) makes credit unions different:

On reminding us all that failing is ok, too:

Finally, on being *that guy* in the conversation:

Big Data

On using for “any and all purposes”:

On understanding what you’re looking at:

On realizing nothing really has changed:

On having my A/C replaced:

Did any of those short statements/replies educate, inspire, or convince you of their importance? There’s always more where they came from. Simply follow me on Twitter @JoeCUGeek or comment on the post to start a new conversation!  I tried to share tweets which did not link to long reads, but some do slip through (most of mine go to something to dive deeper).  Also, I realized that searching through 4,000+ tweets is a pain for me, but a victory for you!

Bonus for reading to the end (or just scrolling to the bottom):

Picking Up Pennies For Marketing?

When was the last time you came up with a truly unique marketing effort?

Let’s back up a bit. Your credit union is always looking for new creatives to promote various services. Really, how many ways can you suggest opening a checking account? (Turns out, a lot) But most of these ideas are just new copy and graphics on the same concept. I get it. I’ve even done it. (Yes, your trusty Credit Union Geek was a marketing copywriter for local credit unions!)

In addition to you coming up with these campaigns, every other credit union was doing the same thing. That’s a lot of ways to recommend a particular service! How can you stand out?

Why don’t we use a current example and analyze it for the “secret sauce”?

Ally Bank hit a grand slam on their latest marketing effort. Playing off the well-known idea of a “lucky penny”, they made just a few of them highly desirable. The bank placed 100 Ally-branded “pennies” on the ground in large cities. If you find one of their coins, follow the instructions on it and get rewarded with $1,000. Now that’s a lucky penny!

Let’s look at what was involved in making this Lucky Penny campaign happen. They commissioned 100 copper coins. Then they built a website. It has details on the program, a promo video, cool penny facts, and a redemption portal. And then they made sure to talk about it like crazy on their social media (with hints on where to find them based on local landmarks). Don’t forget giving everyone a hashtag to use. That’s it.

For an institution like Ally, this campaign cost less than a drop in the bucket. But the rewards have been enormous. Major media outlets covered the promotion, linking to their site and highlighting the social media posts (I’m sure some of that is credit to a great PR team). Even Facebook’s automated Trending feature highlighted the bank (which is based on the number of users talking about it). They put very little, respectively, into keeping the Lucky Penny talk flowing.

Sorry, did I say unique above? My company has done unique many, many times. It doesn’t always pay off. The better approach is to embrace something everyone intuitively knows, then tweak a small part. Like the yogurt company, Dannon. They aligned with the NFL to “find the golden bongo” and win a prize. Remember Charlie and his Golden Ticket? Are these promotions really so different?

What do you think…could your credit union have built these campaigns? I think so. Maybe you would have had only 5 Lucky Pennies, or the same number, but worth $100 instead. Scale the marketing investment to your requirements. Remember, this could also help with your mission to encourage savings (and opening up accounts with you). Anytime you engage the community, issue press releases (or better yet, develop relationships with local media) to get news coverage.

I’m a huge fan of scavenger hunt concepts. With a prize worth putting some time into, almost anyone will take notice. In a previous business, we developed plans for a community-wide volunteering initiative. Each day for a month, we would highlight and encourage volunteer support of a different local charity. There would be surprise rewards (local businesses sponsoring) if you showed up at said non-profit. Am I giving you any ideas?

Your marketing is getting repetitive. It may work to some extent, but if you want to make a mark in the communities you serve, get them excited. And you don’t need to spend your entire marketing budget to do so.

Please share some marketing initiatives you ran which really got your membership buzzing (and tweeting, Snapchatting, and Instagramming)!

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