Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: engagement (Page 1 of 2)

Blog Management Tools Your Credit Union Can Use [2020]

Originally published on CUInsight.com

It takes more than just some ideas to keep a blog running. (If only!) On this system, there are a series of platforms and services which work together. Let’s discuss each and how they contribute to the overall success.

Then, we’ll look at how you can use these strategies to improve your own blogging and social media efforts.

What? You don’t have a blog or other learning portal for members to access? For the sake of your social and search presence, get started today!

Since that’s part of what my company educates on, I’m here to help!

With so much being done remotely, it’s essential to provide the relationship members expect through your digital channels. And telling stories, sharing updates, or educating on relevant topics all falls into this guidance.

Scheduled Posts

Every so often, typically on Tuesdays, a new post appears (Updated for 2020!). You get a notification, e-mail, tweet, or some other thing, which directs you here. And I am super appreciative that you visit.

Even if it’s just to see if your name is mentioned. Sarah, Steve, Phil, Mohammad, Lorraine, Shanice, Ashley, Qui-Gon…are you a winner? There’s always next time.

No matter what moved you to action, you are here now. Yet what made this post appear? Was I sitting on a device debating when to press Post? Well, yes, I do that, but not in this case.

Airport Flights Screen
Ha, remember when we looked at flight charts and went to airports?

I use the post scheduler to keep a consistent flow of content, even if I happen to be busy at that time. I’m sure you never find yourself suddenly occupied when other obligations are waiting…

Whatever platform you use, it supports scheduled posts. At one point, I had over a year of content scheduled on this blog. That’s back when I was really good at writing and prioritizing. It was also a bit crazy.

The Guts of the System

What’s it like behind the curtains, down the rabbit’s hole, outside the Matrix? To be honest, it’s pretty similar to the world you inhabit.

I just have mad hatters, agents with equally mad martial arts skills, and a reasonably unhappy (did you think I’d say “mad”?) wizard who is not a wizard at all.

Whew, how many references did I even make there? No time to count, we’ve got to talk about the blog platform!

WordPress

To start, Credit Union geek is built using WordPress. More than half the internet uses this platform, and to no big surprise. It’s easy to craft to your needs, quickly, easily, and without a lot of technical knowledge.

Security Concerns

Because WordPress is so widespread, security fixes are released within hours. With a strong password (Also updated for 2020!), a WordPress site is as safe as one could expect online.

I used to use an extension called WordFence, which blocks suspicious activity and also visitors who are likely up to no good. That’s just the surface of its functionality, and I’d at least look at it and similar products before launching.

Wait, used to?

Yes, I no longer keep this plugin going, as I tightened up the security of my site through other means. The reason for the change? Performance impacts.

For maximum performance, go with a platform that does scanning off-server. What that means is your own system doesn’t do the work; it’s passed off. This won’t be free. But it could be reasonably priced.

The other sideswipe here was at slow hosting providers (you know who you are). You can load up a site with all sorts of capabilities, but if the hosting is under par, it’s going to drag. On fast hosting, even a poorly-optimized site flies.

Sharing Content, or, Ensuring You Know It Exists

For sharing, I take a few paths. My goal is to be where you are. If that’s this site, great. Only I cannot expect all of you to come here daily! No one’s stopping you. 🙂 However, to get proper reach, I’ve got to go social!

Twitter

Twitter

The most common is Twitter. When on my computer, I use the Tweetdeck web-app. On my iPad and iPhone, I use Twitterrific. I can follow trending topics (Yes, updated for 2020!), schedule posts, and see all my interactions on one screen.

But what if you’re not on Twitter? Or, even if you are, it’s easy to miss a few posts. In case you didn’t notice, a lot of people use it. And some of them post far too much (often while saying far too little).

Thus, Twitter isn’t my only outreach medium.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn

I also share all my posts on LinkedIn using their Article platform. To inform people of their existence, I sometimes post on a variety of credit union-focused LinkedIn groups.

Unfortunately, activity on those groups fell over the years. After watching posts get 0 engagements over the course of months, I pulled away as well. The groups were great, so if you’re ready to come back, I am, too!

Shameless plug: Our company maintains a LinkedIn Group called Credit Unions: Post-COVID-19. Sure, we’re not “post” anything yet, but it’s about looking ahead to plan for what the near and medium-term future will hold.

Anyway, I see LinkedIn as my main area for interaction. Despite not liking their mobile app, I’ve put it back in my phone so I can check notifications and comment on related industry posts.

Do you use LinkedIn, and, if so, for what purposes? (If it’s for finding another job, just say, “Waffle recipes” in the comments. It’ll be our little secret. Also, please share waffle recipes.)

Facebook

Occasionally, I’ll share on Facebook to friends and family. Since this is business-related content, most don’t care. So it’s less common than all other mediums.

If you’re looking to engage with members, you’ll want to use this platform. Why? Because they’re on it. Instagram, too, which Facebook owns and anyone under 35 uses.

E-mail

Of course, readers can easily subscribe and receive new posts by e-mail. Do you? Because it’s the best way to get your dose of Geek.

Software Platforms

I’ve tried a lot of software over the years. Some don’t exist anymore. Others evolved to a point of being more frustration than productive. A few are new entrants I consider carefully.

ActiveCampaign – E-mail & Tracking

For e-mail campaign efforts, I use our company’s CRM platform: ActiveCampaign. These managed messages inform readers of my speaking availability (I’m way cooler in person, once it’s safe to do so again) or new posts.

Hey, there’s always web events!

It’s also a great way to let people know about full rewrite updates like those you see mentioned in this post. Plus, chances are, you weren’t reading back in 2014. Yet I’ve got some good stuff to surface from then!

ActiveCampaign gives me the flexibility to set up automations based on recipient activity, track open rates, and much more. It’s an ongoing process of learning what it can do, then discovering features just added.

Buffer – Social Media Management

Social Media Icons

With my priorities leaning towards our company’s Learning Library, I’ve been lax on use of this system. What is Buffer?

In a few words, it’s a single service to manage all your social media activity. Schedule posts, watch engagement, and much more. It works on desktop and mobile just as easily.

I really like how it lets you set up a bunch of posts, then have it automatically post them on a schedule you define ahead of time. They’ll even suggest best times for engagement on each service.

To explain: I can have Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn connected to Buffer. Each has their own posts ready, abiding to individual schedules. It’s all your social activity, on one screen. Pretty cool, right?

Audio Posts

Microphone

When the mood strikes me, I’ll make an audio post. Why not video, you ask? Because the lighting and layout of my office isn’t ideal. I’ve tried. The audio is the better solution right now.

Update: I wrote this section pre-COVID-19. So, I had not given video a chance (without a tripod, that is). Now, I can make standing videos in my living room. You may have seen some of them over the past few months.

Whether video or audio, making recorded content isn’t a huge challenge. I used to use my AirPods as the microphones, but my new Mac has even better microphones. I just open Quicktime or Voice Memos and start talking.

It exports from both as a high-quality m4a file. That’s it!

Web Apps – Everything Else

To be honest, for most activities, I just use the website. Twitter posts? Tweetdeck, since it’s Twitter as it should be (without all the extra garbage).

LinkedIn? The website. It’s not great, but there’s no easier way to browse my feed to find relatable content.

Content creation? I used to use Evernote, but transitioned to Google Drive/Docs in the last year. When copying from the latter, it retains formatting in WordPress best. Plus, I can get to it/edit on any device with the same formatting controls.

At the end of the day, my goal is to not be tied to any one device. If I need to do something and all that’s available is my phone, it should work. It’s not ideal, but doable.

What’s Your Process?

I speak to a lot of credit union marketing and social media folks (Cleaned up for 2020!). They each have their own process for engaging members. I hope this post can help you decide on the best tools for your task.

Light Bulb Chalkboard

On your system, you may want things like chatbots to help serve members. Internally, different data analytics (Updated for 2020!) can assist in better engaging opportunities.

Just remember, tools are only as good as their user. I await the AI platform which writes, formats, hosts, and publicizes creative insights into the credit union industry.

Of course, then I won’t be the Credit Union Geek anymore. Unless that has already happened…

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

Creating CUs of Tomorrow…Today

The inaugural CU Tomorrow conference technically ran for three days. Unlike most, it started with the cocktail hour! Now that’s already different! (And, a great way to stimulate initial conversations) That went just so well, you wouldn’t believe how well it went. Ok, you got me. My flight was delayed and I missed it.

So let’s start this roundup when I can offer real insights. That’s on the 2nd day, the first of two, loaded with presentations, conversations, and inspirations. This post will be longer than normal, as I want to ensure you get insights from everything I attended. However, you can navigate it yourself by clicking each topic to expand one at a time.

Jim McCarthy, Trailhead CU, Oregon: Onboarding New Members

If it isn’t the most challenging topic imaginable. I’m sure your credit union has never had an issue onboarding your new members. After we’ve finished flattering each other with lies, let’s be honest about where our onboarding plan begins: Staff. The attitude you convey to them gets carried on to the members. From swag to dress code, it’s about making a welcoming environment, both for your staff and members. Importantly, ensure you have an open-door policy to all management. New hire? Each receives a staff partner to ask all their “dumb” questions, like, “what’s an ALCO?” or, “what’s a good lunch place nearby?” That’s supportive.

But has this casual dress code and informal employee mentorship helped? Well, they’ve grown while most in their asset size have declined. Average age of new members? 33. This success came about as they brought on an executive team and board, mostly under 35. A lifetime of experience brings enormous value, though it can also bring an unwillingness to adapt. Trailhead combined the best of both.

Bobby Michael, Army Aviation Center FCU, Alabama: Building Wallet Share at Small and Large CUs

“It’s always been that way.” The words which stopped 1,000 improvements. Add to that, “if you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re not relevant.” So said Bobby Michael of Army Aviation Center FCU. At his former CU, they turned around declines in all areas with a multi-pronged approach. First:

Then, they financed all sorts of purchases, from solar panels to hot tubs. (Put them under the unsecured rate category) Michael also helped instill a sales culture into their mission, explaining cross-selling as another way to serve the member’s needs.

And, finally, they had fun:

Since they’re a part of the community, they ensured charity support matched their own mission. Sound familiar?

Michael concluded with three points: Take risks. Look big. Don’t cheap out.

Your credit union will thrive if you have passion, energy, and drive.

Stacey Collins, BECU, Washington: Fine-Tuning Member Onboarding For Big Results

Member onboarding needs two things:

  1. Good timing.
  2. Good content.

Before we figure out what these mean for your credit union, it’s essential to figure out the target member. Turns out, it’s Carmen. She’s a 29 year-old mass affluent Millennial. Carmen’s in your market, trust me. Now, what are her challenges and motivations? That’s where your own data comes in handy. Create a journey map for “Carmen’s” new member experience. How did this work at BECU? They brought new member utilization down from 1-3 years to 90 days, on average. With plans to bring that down to 30 days. Let me repeat that: They endeavor to get new members into an active checking account within a month of joining.

What challenges did they identify during this process? The biggest was the debit card. It took too long to get. So, they launched instant issue. Another was the length of the onboarding timeframe. And the complexity. Solution: Gamify with an e-mailed dashboard, then ensure all communications are within 45 days. With regular tweaking and testing, it’s making a difference, leading more members to make BECU their PFI.

That was the packed lineup of Day 2! My apologies for missing Shari Storm, who discussed “The Mom Market”.  The few minutes I saw were exciting, enlightening, and just plain fun. If you were there and wanted to share your favorite moments, add them to the comments below!

Only one full day and lots to take home already. You’ll also be interested to know I had a fabulous veggie burger at Eureka!, a nearby restaurant. And their glazed Brussels sprouts were amazing. They also had what I consider to be the perfect IPA:

It’s called the Electric Jellyfish, brewed locally in Austin. For next time!

Day 3

Jane Dobbs, President/CEO, Canyon State CU, AZ: Lessons Learned In Turning Around Credit Unions

The third day began with Jane Dobbs, President/CEO of Canyon State CU, discussing how credit unions can find their “True North” focus. Her first day on the job began with a closed-door meeting of her executive team explaining, “we’ve got a problem. Our entire mortgage team just resigned.” Gulp. Dobbs understood this wasn’t the problem; it was a symptom of something else: The need to develop a “True North”. Here’s the roadmap: Assess, Plan, Act, and become Proficient. Then review, tweak, and repeat! Yet it’s about more than planning documents; the staff must be engaged. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast all day long,” she explained. Your credit union potential is linked to the potential of your staff. And if they are in the right positions for them. How to find out? Ask! Maintain an open-door policy. Listen. Even when it’s uncomfortable. A great leader engages their team so everyone performs at their best.

David Klavitter, SVP Marketing, DuPaco CU, Iowa: Member Rewards at your CU

When DuPaco CU asked themselves how to use their capital to create a deeper connection with members, they realized…rewards. With a core focus on active checking accounts; the entire program hinged on that product. Working in-house, they used “gamification” to build a system which made earning a journey. Every credit union interaction, from debit purchases to activating e-statements, earns the member rewards. A single portal tracks it all, with insights on current earnings and info on other ways to build “Thank Use” funds (and build the credit union relationship). Strong social tie-ins encourage sharing, and, when do the rewards redeem? On International Credit Union Day, of course! Klavitter understands there are two ways to grow membership:

1. Attract new members.

2. Keep members you have.

The Thank Use program has deepened the relationship (90% of rewards members consider DuPaco their PFI), maximizing the potential of both categories.

Brad Smith, Cornerstone Advisors, Texas: Best Practices in Vendor & Cost Management

Credit unions are empowered by their vendor partnerships. They can also become a burden. It’s about looking at their performance strategically, like any other internal program. “Technology is an enabler for strategy, but you don’t need to invest in every technology.” Smith explains how being aware of future-possible ideas is important, less so is adopting every one. Some, however, are pressing. Like mobile. What’s your ratio of mobile to branch deposits? And convenience. Does this platform require activating it through online banking, on a computer? Might be a problem for younger members, who are mobile first and last.

Smith then took attendees on a journey through assessing vendor performance. “Not getting written up by an examiner” is only the bare minimum. Here’s where to start:

As a vendor myself, I cringed at some of Smith’s words of vendor actions. Overcharging, underperforming, offering confusing messaging so comparisons are difficult, and putting CUs at risk in some economic climates? If any of your vendors engage in such actions, they’re not acting in your best interests, and maintaining that relationship isn’t acting in your members’ best interests. Clarity, agreement, and understanding is essential for all parties. If you don’t know what your vendor provides and you can’t get excited about it, why offer it?

Anne Legg, AvantEdge Analytics: Using Your Data To Grow

Your credit union has more data on your members than Amazon. Seriously. The challenge is in accessing, understanding, and using it to get ahead of your members’ needs, Legg began. Let’s start by addressing the big pitfall: Silos. They hurt progress, so avoid them by thinking of your credit union as an organic system with all talent complementing each other. Your members want streamlined, “swipe right”, simplicity. Silos ensure this will not occur. Because you can create complicated; members just won’t use it.

Start with the member. Determine the problem they want solved. Then identify how your data can solve it for them. Because data is driving the innovations of the future. Take Zero UI. I wrote about it nearly two years ago. I did another piece which is scheduled to post in the next few months. It’s the idea of no interfaces, just chatting with technology to get things done. Like a conversation with a friend. Legg excitedly animated a future scenario of Zero UI with Alexa, your bank account, your credit card, your activity monitor, and more. Want more details? Ask and we can dive deep together. For now, just understand this is all driven by analysis of data you already have.

So how do you build a data analytics culture in your credit union? And what’s going to go wrong? Legg invited John Sahagian, VP Marketing at Baxter CU to discuss. His first and most essential piece of advice? “Start with data governance so you have a base on which to build upon.” Why? Because you’ll otherwise adopt “shiny object syndrome”. That’s when you innovate for innovation’s sake. Technology is a means to an end. Without meaning, data is just data. And there’s a lot of it (with more on the way!); 90% of all data was created in the last two years alone. Your Excel spreadsheets won’t cut it anymore.

In review, it’s about finding the problem, then identifying the data which will solve it.

The CU Tomorrow conference concluded with an all-hands Q&A session. And this was after lunch, so you can believe all in attendance are committed credit union supporters!

Jim This guided all through identifying their Key Takeaways. Here are some shared:

  • Identify business case for any project.
  • Share strategic plan and budget with every employee.
  • Formalize new employee orientation process.
  • Revamp rewards program with focus on checking account.
  • (My personal favorite, despite being a specific task, rather than a “takeaway”) Make a “membership card” that gets handed out by any and all staff within your community to raise awareness and guide people to become members.
  • “Always let your conscience be your guide” – Jiminy Cricket (When you use a Disney quote, you’ve got my support!)

Thank you to CU Today and Jim This & Sue Girsch for organizing a fantastic inaugural conference. Additionally, thanks to all the sponsors for helping make it happen!

Hope to see you all next year to share new insights!

And Keep Austin Weird!

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