Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: credit union engagement

The Importance of CU Staff in New Program Launches

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Hooray! Your credit union finalized another service partnership! It’s been a long road of due diligence, contracts, negotiations, board meetings, and conference calls, but you’re done.

The time has arrived for implementation!

“I get the feeling Joe is going to say the hard part is just starting.” How do you always know what I’m thinking?

While it doesn’t have to be the “hard part”, making a strategy work is always more than set-and-forget.

Marketing

Let’s start with building a marketing plan. Unless you don’t want anyone to know about it. Which is…odd, but your choice.

For everyone else, it’s time to decide the target audience for your new service. Is it every member? Possibly, but more likely, there’s something that makes some better prospects. Figure that out, and tailor your messaging and outreach to them.

We call it a “buyer persona” and it will help you focus your efforts most efficiently.

Staff

What about staff? Do they have any role in the success of this new service? Maybe just a tiny bit. Or a lot. Even staff who don’t regularly meet with members can play a massive part in making or breaking a launch.

So how do you educate them while building buy-in, excitement, and support? Great question.

Staff Need To Love It

There are a lot of systems that keep your credit union operating. From your core to the LOS to cash counters, it’s a lot of tech. But you and I know what really keeps the credit union running: Your dedicated staff.

Which means that new service needs them to love it, too, if you want it to succeed. What is your strategy to build this relationship?

Seems simple enough: Distribute a staff FAQ to ensure they’re aware. Then hold branch manager trainings. It’s a golden recipe for success, right? I mean, who doesn’t love training sessions?

Your Staff Are Members

Let’s back up a bit. When your credit union first approached this program, there was a clear member benefit, right? Of course. And your staff? Many of them are members, too.

What does that mean? Well, treat them as extra-lucky members! How cool they get to use this awesome new program before anyone else!

Soft-launch your new service with them. Not only is this an engaging way to educate them about the service and its benefits, but it also connects them to it. (Plus, it lets you work out any kinks without the risk of customer service crises.)

Now, when your members have questions, they’ll feel comfortable talking about it (and possibly even excitedly recommending).

Remember, staff are members.

Let Them Play

I run training sessions for our own services, and always conclude with this statement:

“We encourage you to use this system on your own; in test mode, you can play all you want. Get comfortable, because what’s comfortable for you becomes easy to recommend to your members. You’re helping, not selling, and isn’t that why you’re at a credit union in the first place?”

Your staff is the front line to your members. As trusted advisors, they can make or break any initiative. Understanding that unique relationship, we bring them into our launch and ongoing promotion efforts.

Rewards

For example, over the holidays, we run campaigns which raise money for their foundation. It may not directly educate about the service, but it definitely helps associate it positively with your team.

Through the year, we encourage our clients to give staff ownership in the programs. If it fits your culture, staff incentives, giveaways, and other rewards are fun ways to ensure the service stays top of mind.

In Sight. In Mind.

Over the long-term, we aim for in-sight, in mind. This can mean different things at your institution, and also depending on what the new service is.

One option is having a physical marketing piece of functional value. That way, each staff member can refer to it when speaking with members.

Involve Staff

Marketing is an essential way to reach your members. But it’s evolving. Inbound marketing strategies let you address their challenges without intrusive pieces. Staff also play an important role.

Their engagement and training is crucial to build trust and ensure consistent growth. Together, you have a solid plan for success.

Disclosure: My company works with credit unions and their staff for promoting services to their membership. When our partners use these strategies, they improve their results, thereby causing me to benefit financially. Looking back, this seems like the most obvious disclosure I’ve ever written.

CUNA Asked So You Can Grow

Isn’t it great when someone else does the hard work?

You may not have heard of them, but there is a small organization helping support the credit union mission.  I think their name is an acronym, CU…CUNA, I believe?  Yes, that’s it.  CUNA.  Oh, they’re not small?  In any form?  No wonder they do so much for credit unions nationwide!

As part of their myriad efforts, CUNA conducted the 2015-2016 National Member & Nonmember Survey, polling individuals of all ages on a range of topics.  Since this is a CUbit short-form post, I want to keep it focused on the key points.  However, I advise you to review all the findings and incorporate them into your operations at every level.

Essential Take-Aways:

  • 43% of members prefer e-mail as primary contact (18-24 prefer it by a two-to-one margin)
  • 29% of 18-30 year old members never visit the branch (35% visit once per month)
  • 2% of members prefer newsletters as primary contact medium (Translation: 98% don’t)
  • Younger members look to electronic solutions, older, to paper and in-person

Read through the full results from CUNA.

(N)Ever Admit You’re Wrong?

Originally published in November issue of American International Karate Institute’s monthly newsletter.

Here at the Credit Union Geek, I never make mistakes.

Yeah, right.

We live in a society which looks down upon those who make mistakes, as if it is something to be shamed. Why? Every great discovery was done after many attempts, all failing in some fashion. Medical treatments, sports achievements, technical breakthroughs, and any other “first” was done following, well, can you guess? A mistake, that’s what. And probably many of them. Let’s talk Thomas Edison. He’s the guy who discovered a workable method of producing electric light.  In other words: flip a light switch and thank Edison. That brilliant fellow came up with the right idea one day and, bam, light! Well, that’s only partially true. He came up with 3,000 ideas. Two of them proved noteworthy, meaning, he was wrong 2,998 times.

When was the last time you got something wrong 2,998 times? Did you keep trying? Famously, Edison claimed, “You only fail when you quit.”

If being wrong is so shameful, would you risk it? What would people say?

Over the years, great films have highlighted the journey from amateur to champion. Call it the Rocky montage. Or the Karate Kid segment (the 80s excelled at this piece of film history). In the movie, we spend 5 minutes documenting the grueling training and challenges our protagonist encounters. Then, just as they collapse in exhaustion, we see a spark of understanding. Their kick lands. Their punches flow. The light bulb works. Now, it’s off to defeat the Huns!

As a cinematic element, they’re awesome. Tell me your run doesn’t get a boost from hearing Rocky Balboa get ready for his fight against Apollo. But they create an unrealistic perception of progress. It’s hard to grasp the sheer time and effort compressed into those scenes. Olympic athletes train for hours a day, every day, for decades, to even be in the running for competition. As a long-term martial artist, I can say that Daniel-san did not stand a chance at the tournament. He didn’t fail enough to succeed.

It’s not only in competition or inventing where this applies. Apple released iOS 8 in September. It wasn’t perfect. So they released iOS 8.0.1 a few days later. It was even less perfect. The next day, they released 8.0.2. Much better. For some reason, with iOS 8, they also removed the beloved Camera Roll feature, replacing it with a Recently Added folder. It was a nightmare trying to explain how that worked to my parents…”Yes, those are still your phone’s pictures. No, just because they disappeared doesn’t mean they are deleted or gone. It just doesn’t show them there anymore. Yes, you can find them in the big list on the Photos tab.” So, with iOS 8.1, they admitted their mistake and restored Camera Roll. Thank you!

Acknowledging your imperfections and addressing them is a great way to move forward. Never being wrong means you 1) don’t take risks of any kind and 2) won’t achieve anything of significance. My favorite TED talk (On Being Wrong, Kathryn Schulz) delves into this very issue. How sure are you of being right? What about once you’re shown you are wrong? That’s the craziness of being wrong. When we are wrong, we think we are right until shown otherwise. Go watch the TED talk.

In your personal and professional life, aim for getting it wrong. Then accept it, address the issues, and try to get it wrong again. You may just invent the phonograph or telephone, discover penicillin, or grow your member engagement!

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