Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: confusing

Leave The Puzzles to Zelda

Originally published on

When I was growing up, I enjoyed video games. It didn’t hurt that I am part of a generation who experienced the “golden years” of console gaming. My first system was an Atari, then NES, Sega Genesis, and onward. But there was one game franchise which kept me on a certain company’s systems: The Legend of Zelda.

Where Puzzles Are Good

No game before (and few since) presented adventure, humor, and puzzle-solving within a single package. Plus, the storyline was always solid. If it said Legend of Zelda, you wanted to keep playing, and not just to the end, but to completion, where all side-adventures were done as well.

Puzzles for Link are good. Puzzles for your members are not.

Your credit union is not Hyrule, and the member benefits chart should not read as a set of clues to the Triforce.

Where Puzzles Are Not Good

One of our clients used a member reward structure based on their level of involvement. That’s fine; offer more to your most profitable/engaged members.

However, it was far too complicated, with 4 levels ranging from Bronze to Diamond. What changes can you expect from each level? 11 areas that change across levels, plus another 10 benefits which are available to all members.

Oh, and of these 10, 2 of them, despite being shown in a chart as available to all members, are actually an extra fee on certain account setups.

Confused yet?

Rethink Membership Levels

I get why credit unions want to offer membership levels. A lot of the benefits you offer cost money, and why pay to provide them to members who have hardly any relationship with the institution?

My concern is when you have so many variables, it’s hard for a member to keep track. And a member that’s confused will avoid the source of confusion. Which in this case, is your institution.

Oh, did I mention that this credit union offers unlimited ATM fee reimbursements for all new members, for the first 6 months?

Such a confusing structure lays the groundwork for member issues. “What do you mean I pay a fee? I never did before!” “Yes, but since you are now a member for more than 6 months, or your total balance fell below $5,000, or you’ve paid off your auto loan, you are now eligible for these new fees.”

You read that right. At some credit unions, paying off your loan might actually mean you pay more fees. They reward having a loan, which I get is an income-generator, but then essentially punishing a member for fulfilling their financial obligation rubs me the wrong way.

How to fix?

Aim For Simple

In all aspects of your institution. Your members and your staff will thank you.

Look at every internal and member-facing process. Create a spreadsheet, mind map, or your favorite organization system, for every service. Lay out the choices or steps within. Then share this with staff, family, or selected members. Is it intuitive to them?

If not, time for some changes. And by changes, I mean, “remove extra steps, requirements, terms, and more.”

Next: Gaming at your Credit Union

“So that’s it? All that buildup with Link, Zelda, and references to the game series, and now you’re done?” Ah ha! Your reward is in the next dungeon. Or, in this case, Part 2. There, we will learn to use the best ideas from gaming to excite your members and grow the relationship.

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Tech to Confuse

Have you ever found yourself so overwhelmed with new technologies that you simply gave up? “Look at the new iOSdroid 45.759 iPhone Max 16” Extra High Resolution 4K 3D Hologram Edition!” What? Forget it. My Motorola StarTAC works just fine for me. You can keep your, um, whatever that is.

Ok, I exaggerated. Slightly. Though for someone not keenly on the “bleeding edge”, it can feel that way. Lots of technology, no idea how it connects to your life.

This can happen to anyone, even a self-proclaimed geek like myself. Through a series of odd events, I wound up getting a new car. It has everything. Here’s a rundown of just some of its advanced technologies: Smart City Brake Support, Forward Obstruction Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Support, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Smart High Beams, Adaptive Headlights, Radar Cruise Control, Capacitor Regenerative Braking, and Rain-sensing Windshield Wipers…whew!

At first blush, the technologist in me went bonkers. “Gadgets, gizmos, sensors, radar, LASERS!” Then I asked the question you’ve doubtlessly posed before as well. “So, now what?”

I read the manual, all 500 pages of it, and endeavored to press every button and instigate every advanced thing on the car. I’ve managed about half thus far. But would the average person bother? The manufacturer possibly wondered the same, since a few of the features need to be manually activated. Given how many VCRs I’ve seen over the years flashing 12:00, well, you can guess.

It’s the same way at your credit union. Each day, I notice new articles in my Twitter feed about how credit unions must implement technologies to better engage with their members, beat the banks, and survive into the future. Sure, mobile deposit is a given today. So is a clean and functional mobile app. And, of course, your website should be presented as a virtual branch, mirroring the great experience members receive upon walking into your brick-and-mortar establishments.

But technology for technology’s sake? There are a few of us who enjoy such things, but we are not the majority, and you should not stake your future on us. Even the typical technology-laden Millenial has little care for unnecessary trimmings. If it makes your member uncomfortable, confuses them, or otherwise makes them feel like they’re “missing something”, it needs to be reconsidered.

If a member is ready to take action with your credit union, get out of the way! Help, don’t hinder, their efforts. If you’re implementing new technologies, make them seamless and invisible to the member. Otherwise, prepare to have a lot of explaining to do.

Write to Educate, Not Confuse

It is an altogether established fact, contrary to what logic may dictate, amongst the academic and corporate business worlds, both literary cognizant populaces, that composing documents with a willingness to dig deeply into the complexity of the language being composed enables widespread viewership and understanding.

So, did that make any sense to you? Don’t feel bad if you needed to read it a few times to get the gist; that’s not unusual. When you are trying to get a point across, do you want to muddy the waters of understanding with overly complex writing? To say something in many words that could be said in few?

I spent many years within the academic world, receiving a Master’s degree in my field. You won’t believe how many papers I read (and conversations I had) where the level of discussion was so high none of us understood what was going on! It’s as if to be seen as credible and intelligent, you must express your ideas at a level above that of the average person.

Well that’s convenient. Just talk above everyone’s head; hasn’t that always been the best way to explain yourself?

Unfortunately, it happens outside the world of Ph.Ds (even they need to re-read the tough sections!). You see it on the news and in industry publications…but where do you never see this? That’s right, marketing.

As a marketer, your goal is to catch the audience’s interest long enough to present your idea and motivate them to take action. That may mean visiting a website, going to a dealer, buying a product, etc. If your limited time is spent confusing a potential customer, you can imagine how it affects sales.

Ok, class. It’s research time!

When you’re presenting or writing in your preferred field, I’m sure you can discuss at a very high level. In fact, it’s probably when you get most excited. Details, complexity, rationale, and research! This is awesome! And your audience is lost. They’re not dumb, just in that area, they’re not as advanced as you. Which is ok. Talk to me about fashion or accounting at an advanced level, and I’ll give you a blank stare that truly has nothing behind it. But, bring up technology, world news, or other topics where I hold an understanding and interest (those usually go together), I’m engaged and following, no matter how in-depth you get. Understanding all depends on how easily read your material can be.

Imagine this: You’re offering a new accounting platform, I mean completely new to the industry, but it is wildly great. Cuts hours out of doing payroll, tax filing, and even finds more deductions than anything else on the market. You know your product totally, absolutely rocks. But I have no interest or understanding, remember? However, as a business owner, I’m the exact target of your marketing…I’m who would benefit the most from your solution. How do you present it to me? Do you dig into the complexities of how it works, using long, drawn-out sentences? Do you present me a 10-page research summary about how it achieves such great results?

Of course not! You simplify it down to its most basic level.

We’re here to change perceptions. We believe accounting should save you money and time, not consume it. That novices and experts alike can generate equal results. We believe your finances can be well-managed without needing a degree. To this end, we created our Accounting Plus platform. So you can do what you do best: running your business.

So go forth and be simple! The next (scheduled) post will connect this concept to reading levels. You won’t believe what grade level your writing should be.

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