Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: marketing (page 1 of 12)

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?

LOL, Emoji, Checking Promotion: Texting As Credit Union Member Engagement?

Originally published on CUInsight.com

How do you connect with members? Phone? E-mail? In-person? Carrier pigeon? Owl?

White Owl
This is not Hedwig.

Each have their drawbacks, especially the pigeons, since they’re extinct. Who answers their phone anymore, and we all get so much e-mail, standing out is challenging. Not every member visits your branches, and without a letter from Hogwarts, they wouldn’t even know about the owls!

Through my work with credit unions, the medium most favored tends to be e-mail. It’s cheap, relatively easy, and can reach a wide swath of the membership. There are pretty large downsides, though. Many people receive hundreds of messages a day, then there’s the spam. Getting noticed, read, and clicked is a major victory. Despite these challenges, e-mail still makes sense. Just not as the only thing. Here’s where we listen to your marketing team and diversify engagement.

Let Me Just Check This Alert

iMessage Logo
Image source: Wikimedia

What communication medium does nearly everyone read promptly, then act upon? Ding ding. You can go check that message…I’ll wait. Yes, text messages. Be they iMessage, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or good-old SMS (that’s the green bubble for iPhone readers), they get read. How can your credit union take advantage for member communication without “spamming”?

As you may know, there are some regulations governing phone number usage (TCPA). You can send a single service notification, but future messages require additional opt-in. There’s more to it, yet with that as a starting point, it sure doesn’t sound like a useful engagement strategy. Or is it? I know where I’m going…to get some opt-ins!

Why Text Members?

Let me back up for just a moment. Why bother texting members? Case studies found recipients of SMS reminders or calls to action acted at a much higher rate than those sent paper notices, phone calls, and e-mails. So if you want to spur members to action, there’s no more effective way than through text. But it has to be relevant. Otherwise, you’re the spam. How do we set the member expectation of hearing from their credit union?

  • Display your SMS number prominently in branches and online.
  • Encourage members in all interactions that if they, “Want more from their CU to add xxx-xxx-xxxx to their contacts!”
    • Are you more likely to read a message from a random phone number or one which has a contact name linked?
  • Place a widget on your website for members to opt-in their mobile number.
  • Upon mobile banking sign-in, ask if members have their phone number in their profile.
  • Provide a vCard download on website (mobile and desktop) so members can add the CU contact information in one click or tap.

If members:

  1. Recognize it’s their credit union
  2. Opt-in to receive specific messaging (which has a pre-defined maximum number of texts sent per week/month)
  3. Find value in the messaging,

then it can become a valuable outreach strategy.

Of course, this is only for non-secure marketing and service messages. If only there were some way to continue the conversation on that phone…

Two-Way Texting & More

Turns out, that marketing text isn’t the only thing you can do. A company called Shastic developed Elle, a two-way texting platform for credit unions. What does this enable? Well, for one, your member can answer that text. And your team can respond. It’s like a chat. In a text. Ok, it is a chat. This means your marketing out is now using the same channel as support in. With the ability to easily share documents and other information with your members. And you’re now a 24/7 operation beyond online banking.

Not all your members use that channel (though a huge portion do). And it’s about being ubiquitously available. So, keep your Twitter account active for answering public and DM (direct message) requests. Then, there’s the newest player on the block (for iOS users): Business Chat for iMessage. A few small companies are starting with it now…you know, like Wells Fargo. This platform already supports the exchange of money (ie. buying stuff) using your Apple Pay(or Apple Pay Cash) account (which, if you’re promoting, can absolutely be your cards!).

So with all these options, let’s get texting!

This ICU Day, Let’s Aim for Engagement!

I’m a huge fan of the credit union mission and all it contributes to our communities. You’d know that if you’ve read more than a few lines of any previous post. Of course, you’d also know that I’m not afraid to call out things when they could be improved.

On that note, I have just a few suggestions for this year’s International Credit Union Day campaign. In case you weren’t aware, the theme is, “Find Your Platinum Lining” (at a credit union). Because it’s the 70th anniversary of the event. And 70 means platinum. You knew that, right? I didn’t. Honestly, I thought it was for 75. Turns out that’s diamond (jewelry, to be precise). In fact, all I could find about the 70th anniversary linked it to UK tradition. Thus, Americans will have limited exposure to this “platinum year”. I’d be curious how many people under the age of 70 even make the connection. I asked some people of a variety of ages; none knew that Platinum and 70 went together.

Which raises another point: If our goal is to attract younger members, why use a terminology which they are unlikely to understand or relate? Of course, we’re not only looking to attract younger people, but, let’s be honest, they’re who you want. More Boomers are great, but a member with 50 years of major purchases and life changes ahead of them is substantially more valuable.

Slogan aside, let’s take a look at the unified messaging of the credit union movement (at least here in America). Their newest endeavor is “Open Your Eyes” (to a credit union). It’s a major investment with substantial marketing targeting, ahem, eyesnationwide, from TV to streaming services and even subway banners. Yet it isn’t connected to this ICU Day effort at all. Perhaps it’s not quite ready, because this seems like a missed opportunity.

Another point relating to the Open Your Eyes campaign; a major part was to study what people’s actual reasons for not joining a credit union really were. Turns out, it was two main points:

  1. Thinking you had to be part of a certain company or group.
  2. Concern that you had to leave if you moved, or risk not being able to access your money.

Those are valid concerns which we need to address as an industry. So does the ICU Day campaign do that? Not quite. It reiterates the tired, “we’re different and unique” platform. Great, you give back to your members. You have low rates. Some of the larger banks are already playing the same game. And, frankly, they’re better at it. Capital One just launched a new effort featuring their friendlier branches (“Cafés”), free checking, and other customer-centric offerings, while separating themselves from the “Big Banks”. Never mind they are one; their marketing presents them otherwise. And it is reallygood. Ally takes a similar approach, setting themselves apart from the “Big Bankers” who don’t care about you while making billions off your money.

More than a third of Americans are members of credit unions. Yet they have only 7% market share. That’s an enormous gap. And it won’t be solved by saying how low your rates are or that you give back. It’s providing reassurance that people can join, money can be accessed anywhere, and then empowering each CU to go deep on mission.

The big banks are better at differentiating themselves from “The Big Banks” than credit unions. This ICU Day, let’s open peoples’ eyes to credit unions by showing how they make each community better. And how, if you join (because you can!), you can both reap the benefits and help inspire growth as well.

That’s a platinum lining everyone can enjoy!

Happy International Credit Union Day!

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