As marketers, we’re constantly faced with the challenge of getting the right message in front of the right people at the right time. Of course, in a saturated market like financial institutions, there’s the added challenge of breaking through everyone else’s clutter with a message that differentiates us as the financial institution of choice.
We’ve all heard the “rule.” The number is always changing, but the bottom line is that it takes so many exposures to our message before someone will even consider acting on our promotional material. That makes our job even harder, especially when people are bombarded with so much information. Instead of fighting what some are calling a losing battle, perhaps it’s time to change our approach.
What if, instead of sending an auto loan postcard touting the our low interest rates and other great things about our credit unions, we provided them with information about how to shop around for an auto loan (even if it’s not ours they choose)?
That’s content marketing—the practice of sharing information with and educating consumers instead of focusing on the quick sale. Content marketing provides consumers the information they need to make an informed decision. It helps them solve a problem. And, yes, it’s a completely different way of thinking for traditional marketers. Instead of focusing on a sales goal (i.e. so many dollars in auto loans over two months), it focuses on building trust and relationships. You want to be the source your members come to whenever they have financial problems they need help solving. This helps build their confidence, because you’re focusing on what information they want from you instead of what product you want to sell them.
This is a fascinating topic for me, because it challenges traditional thinking and forces us as marketers to consider new ideas. You can learn more about content marketing by reading my monthly e-zine On The Mark. (click here for a free subscription to the e-zine). This month, I introduce the content marketing concept and give examples of major brands who have been executing content marketing successfully for several years. You’ll also find an example of a credit union in California that that lets members review its products and overall service on its website—a great example of content marketing that lets the members do the actual work.
In next month’s On The Mark e-zine, we’ll continue with the pros and cons of content marketing, as well as tips to help you craft your own marketing strategy.
What are your thoughts about content marketing? Does your credit union do anything like this? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment on this blog.
A colleague of mine has had an ongoing feud with a very large bank for several months now. She paid off a credit card and accidentally paid $60 too much. Instead of the bank issuing her a check, she requested that they apply that money to another loan she has with the same bank. When the bank agreed, she paid $60 less on her other loan. Unfortunately, the bank did not follow through on its end of the deal, which has resulted in some rather heated phone calls initiated by the bank for the $60 she owes on her loan.
During the last phone call, the bank representative told her he couldn’t fulfill that request because his department doesn’t handle credit cards. He told her she’d have to call a different number to settle her credit card. She asked him why she was doing all the work when she’s the one paying them via interest on her loan.
My conversation with her got me to thinking about all the things credit unions don’t say when we’re telling people that credit unions are better than banks. We tell them we are not for profit. We tell them our board of directors are paid volunteers. We tell them we don’t pay stockholders. In the grand scheme of things, is that what they really care about?
What if we told them what we can do that banks cannot without actually saying banks can’t do it? For example, has your credit union ever sent a piece insisting credit unions are better because:
- When you call us, you’re calling someone who works in this country.
- Your deposit posts to your account the same day, as long as it’s made during business hours.
- Your online loan payments posts immediately, even on weekends.
- A credit union employee can handle all of your requests. You don’t have to make several phone calls to different parts of the country to get your answer.
- When you deposit money at one of our ATMs, it posts to your account immediately—not in three business days.
- If we make a mistake, we fix it immediately. If we owe you money, we pay it immediately. It won’t take three business days for the money to hit your account.
You get the point. There are so many objections that our members have with banks. We can overcome those objections by simply telling them how we operate. They’ll get the message loud and clear, especially if they’ve had issues with their big bank.
Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t educate our members about the fundamental differences between a credit union and a bank. But I do think our efforts would go a long way if the issues of fundamental importance to our members were listed first. Put yourself in your members’ shoes.
When you make it about them, you get their attention
I had the opportunity to attend the Texas Credit Union League Annual Meeting last week. One of the most intriguing sessions I went to was conducted by Amanda Vega, president of Amanda Vega Consulting, a firm of over 120 people in 15 countries in four languages that handle interactive strategy and implementation for companies such as Betty Crocker, General Mills, Banana Republic, and more. Her firm is technically the oldest social media management company with engagements in the industry dating 10 years.
So I wanted to hear what she had to say. Instead of recapping the session like a reporter (you can get that by reviewing coverage from the event), I thought I would share some of the bullet point notes I took from her session on “Comment Marketing.” Key points she made (in complete random order) include:
- Social media is all about the conversations
- Chime in on conversations taking place on the web
- Social media is important because it’s how you engage, it extends your brand reach, you chatter all day long and it makes you relevant
- Make weekly posts to your blog but don’t say something just to say something
- Participate in forums
- She tweets about 50 times per day
- Facebook ads are not working
- You can use LinkedIn as a sales tool
- Answer questions on Q&A sites
- Look for how you can turn your blog or site into a “niche” site, such as grandparents.com
- Comment on news stories on your local newspaper websites
Vega has tons of great stuff to say and the points above only crack the service of her good content. I highly recommend following her on Twitter and her reading her blog.
“Give me ownership in my work and involvement and I’ll give my all”
“It is frustrating when your boss tells you that you need to improve at this or that, but then doesn’t take any time to explain or teach you.”
“I hate it when a seasoned employee says, ‘You should have to go through this because we did’.”
—Gen Y Quotes from genbleding.com
The workplace is becoming more and more dynamic as Generation Y enters the working world. You may even be hiring more and more people from Generation Y (yes, even if you don’t want to!). Generation Y is defined by Strauss and Howe as those born between 1982 and 2003. So they are currently between the ages 7 and 28.
While you may not be hiring many seven year olds, here are some tips on how to recruit those twenty-something Generation Yers.
Before we proceed, full disclosure time: Although I’m an Xer, I tend to hire people from Generation Y to work for our organization (Neighborhood Credit Union).
(1) Include the phrase “we want you to have a life” at least three times during the interview
Yes, make yourself say that phrase if indeed you want to hire them. Generation Y loves time with their friends. After a hard day’s work they want to play video games, hit the bar, go on dates and hang out with their friends. Unless it’s a profession that demands long hours for entry level positions (lawyers, doctors, etc.) odds are these “kids” will want to have a life other than at work.
(2) Convince them that ideas matter, not age
They don’t have experience—so what. They still probably have some really good ideas. Not all good ideas come from the voice of experience; some good ideas come with a different perspective. If you want a more dynamic organization, then just hire a few “Dot Comers” and watch the change take place.
(3) Let them know the work environment is fun and relaxed
A father recently told a story about how his son who got a job with a prestigious insurance company. But shortly after taking the job, he quit. When the dad asked the son, “Why did you quit,” the son replied, “because the job wasn’t fun anymore.” Then the father said, “What I want to know is this: what does fun have to do with work?”
If you’re from Generation Y, then fun has everything to do with work. They’re looking for some fun—and they say it’s a priority for them on the job.
I even play Jenga during the job interview. I do that for multiple reasons: to see how they handle pressure situations, to watch their nerves, to review how they function with a team, etc. But I also play Jenga so they know going in that this place is different: this place is fun.
(4) Stress your credit union’s technology
Of course, Generation Y is into technology. They surf the Internet, text message, watch TV and talk on the phone—at the same time! So talk about technology in the interview. Let them know what technology products and services you offer.
If you aren’t technological advanced yet, maybe you should hire a Gen Y techie to get you there. Technology is important to them in their every day lives, including their work lives.
(5) Say the phrase “hands off supervision” at least three times in the interview
Stress that you’ll need them to manage a lot of projects at the same time; that you’re looking for a good juggler. While Generation Y wants and needs feedback on a regular basis most don’t want to be micromanaged. So don’t—and say you don’t in the interview.
What about you? What other suggestions for hiring Generation Y do you have?