Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: training (Page 1 of 2)

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.

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?

“I am Groot. I am Groot…I AM GROOT!”

Originally published on CUInsight.com

By now, every tree, raccoon, and 80s-mixtape loving space traveler has seen the newest Guardians of the Galaxy. And, if by some chance, you missed that ship as it soared past, explosions trailing in its wake, then I’ll lay off the spoilers. They’re fun movies. Go watch.

One character became everyone’s favorite: Groot. But that might be our human weakness for puppy trees. Or baby stalks? Saplings? Yeah, that’s it.

So Groot is interesting. What does he say? And what else? That’s all? Yes, here is a character which has now gotten through three films (and years of comic books) with a three word vocabulary: “I. Am. Groot.” But you can always tell what he means.

There’s a science to his communication. You might have heard of a study which showed 93% of communication is non-verbal. Wax washing Dumbledore patio furniture sounds pen computer! Yeah, that’s ridiculous. Dumbledore would never use a computer. So words still matter. Like most science, it was more complex than reported, unless, apparently, you’re Groot. It’s possible they excluded talking trees from their research.

Here’s the reality: What you say is important. But how you say it means the difference between ending the conversation right there or continuing onward.

It’s the difference between someone who cares about talking and one who can’t wait to get away. You see it at networking events, in stores, and on some phone customer service lines. The person who is expressing with animation garners more interest. Seems pretty obvious. If you don’t care about what you’re saying, why should I? Likewise, if you cannot contain your excitement about a new CU initiative, the smile becomes contagious.

Staff who express themselves in this manner create excited members. Excited members are engaged members. Staff who feel obligated to mention products or services do so…in…a…monotonous…and…disinterested…style. The member thinks, “if they don’t care about it, why should I?”

Don’t be teenage angst Groot. Be saving the galaxy for the second (third?) time GROOT!

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