Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Shifting Baselines & Your Credit Union

Originally published on CUInsight.com.

Ever visit someplace from childhood and think, “wow, I remember it being bigger”? Go back a few times or ask your kids (who are there for the first time) and all seems normal. You’ve just experienced Shifting Baselines.

It’s All In Perceptions

Think of it as a change in the perception of normal. I’m not talking about how your impeccable teenage styles seem ridiculous now. Let’s be honest, flower headbands will always be cool (as will bow ties). This is about one person’s standard becoming another’s outlier.

You may not be familiar with the term, and that’s ok. I’ve only seen it used when discussing environmental change. Even then, only in the oceans; fish size, abundance, and all.

But you’re in luck! I happen to have a background in ocean policy and marine science. It’ll come back around to credit unions, I promise.

The Salty Dog & New Fisherman

Let’s paint a scenario so everyone can grasp Shifting Baselines. We have two fishermen: one, an old salty dog, another freshly joining the industry. The former sings shanties of days gone by, the latter just waits for their first day on the water. Here’s where the trouble begins:

  • Our salty dog (lifelong fisherman) considers a “big fish” 150 lbs. and a “good” catch 1,000 lbs.
  • The newbie (no prior experience in area) is excited to reel in a “big fish” weighing 50 lbs. and sails home with a “good” catch netting (forgive the pun) 400 lbs.

Do you see the issue? What is great for one is ruin for the other. However, the new fisherman has no memory of the “better days” and instead considers their first day the norm. When our salty dog leaves the industry, their standard and memory goes with them.

Things Got Worse. No One Noticed.

Moving forward, smaller fish and fewer of them is expected (without ever realizing the loss). Yet we know the past really was brighter. In fact, who’s to say our old fisherman wasn’t reminiscing over already diminished catches? Maybe their elders sang of even larger fish!

Shifting Baselines In Your Credit Union

Are you suffering from Shifting Baselines in your credit union? Take the opportunity to speak with your longest-serving staff, board members, and even members. Get their take on how the institution has evolved. Are the new normals for the better?

Within the marine realm, Shifting Baselines almost always represent a loss. Does your credit union share the trend, or has the baseline improved?

If I walked in to your branch, my standard would begin at that moment. If compared to a member from 50 years ago, would I be pleasantly surprised or disappointed?

Do you have stories from your credit union’s “old salts”? Share them here or with me on Twitter at @JoeCUGeek.

For more information on how Shifting Baselines applies to our oceans, visit Smithsonian Ocean Portal.

Image credit: Me

Is Your Credit Union Sending Members the Wrong Message?

Originally published on CUInsight.com

This post might not be for you. Or, it could be exactly what you and your credit union team need.

Inspired By: Someone Else’s Faux Pas

I’ll be honest; the inspiration came from a local chamber of commerce, not credit union. So, it’s possible none of you are making this mistake. Unless you are…

We’re going to talk about messaging. Public perception. How you convey yourselves to your target audience. Be it your members or the community at large. Just as it can raise positive awareness, publicity can paint an undesirable picture. I saw this happen with a large chamber of commerce in my area. Pretty sure they didn’t notice the faux pas. So what happened?

Who’s Your Target Audience? (ie. Who do you serve?)

Theater Seating
Who would attend your CU’s show?

First, let’s back up and ensure we are all on the same page. Whether you’re a chamber of commerce or credit union, who is your target audience? Exactly.

Local businesses and their staff, residents, and those you wish to attract to the area.

Who do you serve? Well, your members.

When these two things line up, you can better pursue your mission.

The “Event”

In the case of this chamber of commerce, they held a major event, complete with ribbon cutting by the mayor, to celebrate the opening of…a Krispy Kreme.

Now, I don’t know if their stores are franchise or corporate, yet think about it. Is this the message they really want to promote? That a big, multi-national corporation gets special treatment and recognition, while thousands of local businesses, each with their own unique stories to tell, get ignored?

To clarify, this isn’t something they do for every new business opening, even of chamber members.

Perception Matters

Happy Bearded Man at Desk with Be Happy Note on Forehead
Tell me you wouldn’t want to recognize these dedicated goofballs?

In real estate, the oft-repeated phrase is: “Location, location, location.”

Here, could we say it’s “perception, perception, perception”?

If an institution talks about being there for the “little guys”, then makes a big deal out of the exact opposite, what do you think?

It comes across as hypocritical towards the local businesses they espouse to promote and support.

Where is the event for the local business whose staff and owner overcame enormous struggles to be successful?

Or even to just open their doors?

Like I said, you might not be making this mistake. But in case you are…awareness is a good thing.

PS – This is a great time to solicit stories from members about the greatest challenges they have. Then choose one (or more) and do something to help.

Image credit (because what says recognition and celebration like an anthropomorphized pineapple?!): Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Apple Reinvents (Improves?) the Credit Card

Today, Apple held their seasonal keynote event, to highlight new services in a range of categories. You may get a kick out of their Apple TV+ lineup. Maybe you’re stoked about reading all your magazines on your iPhone with Apple News+.

But you’re here for Apple Pay improvements. We are talking about the banking world, right?

What is Apple Card?

In the most simple terms, Apple introduced a credit card. They’re calling it Apple Card. (PS – They partnered with Goldman Sachs. Remember talking about that?)

It’s a “mobile-first” card, in that you do most of your spending, tracking, and reward redemptions all within the app.

The entire platform lives within the native Wallet app in your iPhone. No more downloading a banking app just to pay the credit card bill.

Apple Card - Physical
Titanium. Seriously. (And no numbers to get stolen!)

You can track spending by category, merchant, and even view trends. Payments are simplified, with realtime interest calculations based on what you choose to pay. And rewards deposit daily (they’re calling it Daily Cash) into your Apple Cash account (we’ve spoken about this before).

And the physical card is shiny! (It’s made out of titanium!)

Fabulous metal aside, you care about what the card offers. And is it a threat to your institution?

Spoiler: Yes. Probably.

The Apple Strategy

With more than a billion active devices, any time Apple does something, it matters. Few companies have the ability to affect the behaviors of so many so quickly. I’m not even suggesting you try.

What they did with Apple Card is look at all the pain points within the credit card realm:

  • Applying
  • Tracking spending
  • Paying
  • Redeeming (and understanding) rewards
  • Understanding interest costs (and how to minimize)
  • Getting questions answered

Then they added a bit of Apple touch to align the offering with their mission:

  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Beauty (it’s subjective, sure, but the card is so pretty!)

The result is a mobile-first, simplified, and streamlined vision of a credit card.

Here’s how they addressed those pain points:

  • Application: Tap to apply. Done. It automatically issues the digital version, adds it to your Wallet, and that’s it. The physical copy gets mailed.
  • Tracking spending: The app color-codes spending categories, gives merchants their real logos, and uses machine learning (AI) to decrypt those obscure “IC SPEND A-MERCH 14312” charges (it was the Greek food truck, by the way). It will even show it on a map and link to it on Yelp!
  • Paying/Interest: Graphical wheel that you slide your finger around to see your payments change, along with the interest accrued. Financial education with a swipe.
  • Rewards: 3% at Apple, 2% using the digital version, 1% with physical card. Redeems automatically as cash every day (with notation) into your Apple Pay Cash card. Which you can spend at merchants, online, send to friends/family, and more.
  • Privacy: No merchant gets any details about you on any purchase.
  • Security: Every payment uses a one-time code (just like any other ApplePay transaction). Suspicious transactions appear as notifications (and can be approved or denied with a tap). A new card is sent out and no changes needed.
  • Support: Using Business Chat for iMessage, customers can simply text their question to the service. A person answers and helps them out. Through their normal messaging app.
  • Fees: They don’t have them. Any. At all.

Can Your Credit Union Compete?

That’s a great question. On the surface, no. You cannot create such a streamlined system with the tight integration between bank and provider.

However, all is not lost!

I’ve made a point to talk about partnering in many previous posts. It’s just as valuable (if not more so) today!

Your institution is good at the money part. You might also be great in the relationship area.

But, let’s be honest. You’re not awesome with the technology. It’s a constant effort to keep up with evolving expectations as it is, right?

Two People Talking Over Coffee

That’s why you need to partner with companies who specialize in these things. My last post talked about making member communication simple. That’s one of their pain points!

Another post addressed the issues with boring transaction sheets. Am I spending too much on hummus? (The answer to this is, of course, never!)

And the most cynical/sarcastic/actually realistic answer to this question:

Sure, because it only works for members with an iPhone. Look at all those Android users you can still attract!

Mobile First = Simple First

White iPhone in Hand

You’ll hear a lot of talk about how “mobile first” design is essential. That making services for a computer is immediately alienating your target audience. I’m betting the firms which sell you these platforms will be climbing over each other to talk about how their stuff is so mobile first ready.

It’s not wrong. There’s a lot of value to making sure your offering is accessible from where people are.

However, I want to be clear:

Mobile First doesn’t just mean you need to make sure it works on phones.

Mobile First means that your driving strategy is:

How can we make something so simple, so intuitive, so obvious that members can do what they want in a few seconds?

Apple stepped back and saw many of the traditional challenges in credit cards. Then, they built a system (with appropriate partners) to overcome these “yucky spots”.

Filament Bulb Hanging

It’s about looking at what the real problems are, and how you can address them.

If Edison had only tried to make a brighter candle, he would never have invented the light bulb.

To help illuminate (pun actually not intended, but enjoyed) your best path forward, I encourage you to Subscribe to my blog.

Image credit: Apple

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