Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Category: Articles (page 3 of 61)

It’s Not You. It’s My Line Width.

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Far be it for me to dictate your relationship with your favorite word processor. Go on, keep your margins at the safe 1 inch.

It’s not as if you’re putting text there anyway. Leave line spacing at double. Since you always seem to need the room.

Ignore the footer field, like you always do! Content at the bottom has feelings, too!

Reading Without Tiring

Well, that got out of hand. On the upside, when was the last time page formatting related to relationships?

Woman Reading on Phone at Coffee Shop

Have you ever read content (online or print) and felt tired by the end? It’s because you need to start exercising. Exercising your use of ideal line widths.

The premise of reading, from a biological perspective, is fascinating. Our brains see each character as a picture, which it associates with those surrounding it (left to right or right to left, depending on your heritage), then interprets that as a word/number/sentence. Incredible!

I don’t need to tell you how quickly this process occurs, since you’re reading without thinking about the shape of every letter.

Doing so is tiring. Your eyes and brain need a break, even if it is shorter than your last “vacation day” (you call that a day off?). The pauses come as you change lines. Think of the last exhausting thing you read. I’d bet the lines were quite long.

Holding Open Book

Researchers at the Baymard Institute learned our focus is best when you write within an ideal line width. The golden range? Between 50-75 characters, including spaces, on each line. They found your “subconscious is energized when jumping to the next line.”

In plain English: You get bored, tired, and otherwise distracted if you cannot be entertained by the mundane process of…WOW, A NEW LINE!

Line Width For Entertainment & All Possible Devices

Man on Tablet with Coffee

With readers viewing your content on any number of screen shapes and sizes, adopting a design which adapts is key. If you find the width cannot be reduced, there is another option: Line spacing.

Remember in school how you double-spaced that paper to hit the 2-page requirement? Turns out, you were right all along. This blog uses approximately a 1.5 line spacing setting to enhance readability coupled with a large font.

It’s your writing. Get it read! Pride aside, ask your marketing team how well a campaign runs if what you produce isn’t perused?

Note: Reading from credituniongeek.com, line width is less than 80 characters.

For further reference: http://baymard.com/blog/line-length-readability

Achievement is a Moving Benchmark

Originally published as feature article in February 2015 issue of student newsletter at my dojo, University Karate Center. Then published on CUInsight.com

Training in martial arts isn’t easy. Same with any other sport or activity. Beginners think, “wow, everyone is so far ahead of me…how could I ever do that?”

As a reader of this blog, you gain valuable insight into my secret life…a martial arts student and instructor. I’ve trained for, let’s just say, a while.

Progress in Life & Training

During my time at the karate school, many students have come through the dojo. Some still train today. Others moved on to different phases (and places) in their life. Most thrilling is welcoming past students back after extended absences due to school, work, or family.

In all of these scenarios, there is a continual challenge of improvement. What do I mean? Well, when you’re doing a thing for a while, you are immersed in it. You gain skills at a nice rate. It feels good.

But then you stop for a long period. “No problem,” you think. “I’ll just get back in the swing of things; I know this stuff!” Except, we all know it’s harder than that.

What you remember as simple isn’t quite so anymore. But you’re committed! You train hard and help regain your previous skills, perhaps even with a deeper understanding. Good for you!

Sure, these are the seeds of a longer discussion, but today I want to focus on what I call the moving benchmark.

As You Improve, So Do Others

The benchmark challenge emerges for individuals both new and long-term.

One recent karateka, as students of martial arts are referred, asked a great question a few months into their training:

“Sensei, how can I become as skilled as the high ranking instructors here? Every time I gain a new insight, they show me another way in which I’m just a beginner.”

Sound familiar? Hint: This isn’t solely about karate.

As you get better, at anything, and you are (really!), those with more experience are as well. You are working towards a moving benchmark. While you train and learn, your teachers get better, too.

Avid readers know what happens now. It’s time to relate to credit unions!

Improvements & Your Credit Union

Paper Notebook with Graph and ChartThat’s a mighty fine marketing strategy you’ve got there. As is your website; the team should be proud. And your member referral program is stellar!

Of course, yours is not the only credit union working on making each area better. Another looks to the same improvements, yet has an additional 25 years upon which to build.

As we tell our students at our dojo:

“It’s not about how long it took to finally start training. You started. And you’re here now. That’s what matters.”

Emulate the Experts

Even Olympic champions look up to someone. It’s how we all work together to improve.

Don’t be discouraged if the expert looks like an expert. That’s literally the point!

Continuous Growth

Embrace our karate school ideals of continuous growth and replicate what works.

We also encourage learning from those both junior and senior to you. Just because they’re a white belt doesn’t mean a Black Belt can’t learn from them!

Finance Flowchart with Laptop on DeskFor you, that means looking to your competition, whether that’s a fellow credit union or regional/national banks. Then remember you’re not competing with credit unions! You can all learn together!

In the martial arts, we use the opponent’s strength to our own advantage.

While sweeping your competition onto the mat may be an untenable act, observe their “movements” (actions, strategies, etc.) and discuss internally how a similar approach might work within your own institution.

The road to Black Belt is a long and challenging one. Also, it never ends. Who says it’s any different for credit union success?

Serving Credit Union Members Best – Auto Loans (Part 3)

Welcome to Part 3 of what became the Unseen Credit Union Competition series. The first part highlighted what members receive in the mail from not-to-your-standards protection services. Did they know you could help them more effectively, at a lower cost?

Then we saw “A Credit Union Member Walks Into a Car Dealership…” This revealed the necessity of positive, mutually-beneficial relationships with car dealers. It also raised the question of what your CU offers alongside that loan. You may know. Do your members?

This post continues right from where we left off, finishing the buying process. We’ll look at how your credit union compares on the “easy scale” for loan closing, protection offerings, funding, and more. Remember, it’s always about getting the member what they really need…easily!

Be Confident! Credit Unions Can Compete.

Women at Table Laughing
What do you mean that’s not you and your dealer partners?

What’s your loan team’s relationship with auto dealers? In the previous post, we saw the range from best buddies to mortal enemies, with everything in-between.

Unless you are able to meet all your lending goals through tent sales, you’re going to need to work with dealers. That doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover!

Explain to your dealer partners how members sent there may receive information about your ancillary services and financing. If the member wants to learn about dealer offerings, that’s their choice.

Some members will just do everything at the dealer. Perfect for your indirect program, if you have one.

Others will want to do it all on their phone before ever visiting the dealer. And stopping at a branch? Fat chance! Thus, how can you help accommodate this scenario? Does your technology allow it?

Credit Unions Can Sell. Really!

It shouldn’t matter how members choose to conduct their car search, financing research, and buying process. You simply need to provide the tools to make it easy.

Talking Through Can and String
An unlikely, though fun, communication medium.

Which leads us right into talking about your products! Ok, maybe not talking, but some form of member interaction, whether chat, clean website/app, or something else. It’s for them as much as for you!

This is where you guide members through what you can offer. Explain why each matters to them (Big Data comes in handy here) and how you are helping reduce their risk, expenses, while preserving peace of mind.

It sounds like selling. Maybe you’re not about selling to members. Then let’s change the word: Helping. Would you be willing to help your members choose what services make the most sense for their situation?

Since you’re not always doing it in-person, yes, that means some pretty awesome site and mobile app design. You can do it!

I was “sold” GAP by my credit union like this:

“Ok, so your loan is approved. Do you want GAP? It can pay the difference between your loan and insurance payout in the event of your vehicle being totaled. It’ll be $$ more per month.”

I declined. Shocked?

I’m Just Browsing

If you’re at a store and someone asks if you need help, what do you say? “No thanks. I’m just browsing.”

In this case, I’m just browsing the ancillary services. If you present them as I expect, ie. selling, I won’t be interested. Yet maybe it’s actually perfect for me!

Ask on Iron Swinging Sign

Presenting your services with a product description and cost isn’t appealing to anyone. It’s about asking the right questions, then offering what makes sense in the right way for that member.

I’m not going into selling here (we’ve talked about that many times in the past). Ok, maybe I am. Again, because it’s so important! Let me repeat: Selling is helping. And you are helping, right?

  • Your car buying service helps save members time and money. Explaining its benefits and how to best take advantage isn’t selling.
  • GAP helps a member avoid thousands in unexpected costs after an insurance settlement. Sharing the exact “GAP curve” that member experiences isn’t selling.
  • VSCs are expensive up-front, but how might a surprise $2000 repair affect your member, their job, family, and financial stability? VSC helps your members keep their car on the road (and reduces repossessions, which are often caused by unaffordable vehicle repairs). HIghlighting this isn’t selling.

Your Member Walked Into A Dealership…

Menu with Food and Dealer Offering
That looks appetizing…

The dealer your member visits will present all of these services. You know they’ll be more expensive, and who knows if they are even the best fit?

But if it’s the first time your member hears about them, that’s a huge opportunity missed for your credit union.

And it’s a disservice to your member.

On the other end, it’s important the credit union recognize the partner status of the dealers. They have the “cool” part of auto loans. Just because you need them doesn’t mean they have to hold all the cards.

Shaking Hands Partners Chalk

Creating a beneficial relationship for all parties means the experience is better for your members (and the credit union, too!).

Then there’s the question of “selling”. There are two extremes. We covered one in the first part: Companies trying to sell your members questionable products they may or may not even need.

The other extreme is not mentioning anything to a member. You probably fall somewhere in the middle, and that’s a great place to start.

Now, it’s up to you to make sure you provide the best everything for a member. And ensure it’s clear and easy for them!

Because isn’t “serving members the best” what your credit union is all about?

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