What is Your Marketing’s Personality Type?

What is Your Marketing’s Personality Type?

We all have one: a personality type. Some of us have Type A personalities: driven to high performance and constantly moving. Some of us have analytical personalities: preferring a more thoughtful approach to projects. Some of us are extroverts and some of us are introverts.

Your marketing also has a personality type. Just like your credit union or bank has a culture, it also has a personality.Personality - 1

Here are a few credit union and bank personality types:

  • Stuffy & stodgy—This is the traditional personality many financial institutions have. If you have lots of wood paneling, a traditional teller line, offices with giant desks, a website designed in the 90s and a CEO who is never seen then you are stiff. And really, who wants to do business with you?
  • Old school & old fashioned—There is no school like the old school. If you are using tons of multi-colored brochures, a glossy 10 page annual report with big pictures of the board chairman and CEO, and a direct mail newsletter then go back to the last century. Because that is exactly where you are.
  • People & service—“What makes your bank or credit union different?” I often ask clients. They typically respond with words like “people,” “community” and “service.” Really? Then you are just like everyone else. I’ve yet to drive down a highway and seen a billboard that says “Come To Our Bank: We Hate People,” or “Our Service Stinks.” The most memorable personalities are those that are unique. If your personality is about people and service, then you are boring.
  • Unique & Entertaining—Brands that stand out are brands that are different. Winning personalities are unique and entertaining. With this personality type, you have fun and you educate. You engage consumers rather than sell to them. Your branches have a retail look rather than a bank branch look. Your website is modern and an extension of your digital strategy. Examples of financial institutions with this winning personality include Umpqua Bank, Ally Bank, ING, Verity Credit Union and Fort Worth Community’s Gabby.

Over time people’s personalities can change. And so can your credit union or bank. If you are not happy with your marketing’s personality then take the steps to change it. Determine your brand and voice. Develop a true value proposition. Identify your target audience. Then design creative promotions that use new mediums (video, social media, digital channels, e-mail, mobile banking, etc.) to maximize your reach.

So, what is your marketing’s personality type?


Developing Strategies for Community Based Credit Unions

Developing Strategies for Community Based Credit Unions

Once upon a time, credit unions were built to serve select, small groups. Most were often chartered to provide a financial alternative to banks for employees of a certain company or industry. They thrived, for a time, fulfilling that role. However, as times changed credit unions changed as well.CUNA - 1

To keep new members coming in the doors, and to ensure their own future financial solvency, many credit unions turned to community charters. These new community charters, however came with their own unique marketing challenges. It certainly wasn’t the case of “if you get a get community charter, they will come.” After 30 years, it can be said the community charter movement has failed to meet its full potential.

A new white paper (Developing Strategies for Community Based Credit Unions) published by the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council addresses the challenges community-based credit unions are facing related to marketing and business development (note: I’m biased on this white paper because I’m the author).

Matt Purvis, Principle with Purvis Management in Eugene, OR, noted in the paper that credit unions transitioning from a SEG (Select Employee Group) focus to a community charter may find the new waters a little murky. “The transition from a SEG-based organization to a relevant and competitive community-wide organization with integrated marketing strategies has proven to be very complicated,” he said. “Many credit unions are still struggling with the implications of this shift.”

The paper explores multiple strategic issues relating to maximizing your community charter’s full potential, including:

  • The evolution of the community charter marketing
  • Determining your credit union’s market niche
  • Becoming an active community partner
  • Creating unique member experiences
  • Case studies

Noralynn Grindstaff, Marketing and Communications Manager with Champion Credit Union in Canton, NC ($185 million assets, 23,000 members), noted, “As a community chartered credit union, your competition is not only banks but other credit unions. You are having to market to members and potential members who can get the same products anywhere else. At that point,
your message sounds just like everyone else’s so you have to find new and innovative ways to reach your target markets.

“We have been established for 81 years so you would think that our niche market is set. We have seen over the years that as society and times change, our niche changes. We determine our niche by listening to our members and the community to see where their needs are.”

Some of the key insights from the paper include:

  • Be clear, be focused and be tailored with your marketing messages.
  • You can’t be all things to all people in your community; the most successful community charter credit unions find their niche and market heavily to it
  • Community-based credit unions must work to create opportunities for member interaction that are more experiential and less “let’s just hand out stuff at events
  • Credit unions must consider the return on investment of their community involvement
    time and funds and how to best leverage them to drive membership growth.

Marketing to the community is more than attending an event here and there or doing a mass
marketing awareness campaign. Community marketing takes a strategic approach. As you look for a growth strategy, read the “Developing Strategies for Community Based Credit Unions” white paper and make sure your efforts include some of these tactics.

Banks and Credit Unions: We’re All in the Retail Business

Banks and Credit Unions: We’re All in the Retail Business

The following post was written by Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director for On The Mark Strategies.Apple Storefront - 1

I recently finished up a great history book, Why We’re All Romans. The book offers amazing and thought-provoking examples on how much of what the Western world enjoys today (in law, architecture, engineering, etc.) is directly attributable to the accomplishments of the Romans thousands of years ago.

Fun with history aside, the book title jarred me into thinking about something I discuss at length with credit unions and banks across the country. We’re all retailers, and financial institutions must evolve to think that way.

Many of the successful “big brands” people know and love have worked this angle for years.
Wal-Mart, Target, Toyota, Coca-Cola and Amazon come to mind. Whether you sell groceries, household wares, cars, soda or books, it all comes down to the retail mindset. Selling checking accounts and vehicle loans is no different. Some bank and credit union executives may chafe at this idea, but that doesn’t make it any less true. And if the financial services industry is a little
uncomfortable dealing with the reality that they are retailers, so much the better. Change rarely comes without discomfort and discomfort is a catalyst for growth.

Banks and credit unions that can successfully embrace the role of retailer will thrive. Those that don’t face extinction. It’s also time we stop prattling on and on about “sales and service culture” and proactively implement retail experience cultures in our banks and credit unions.

Rigidly defining our banks and credit unions as financial institutions (with all the white marble, stuffy tellers and inconvenient business hours that implies) limits who and what we can be to members and customers. Even stereotypical television banker Milburn Drysdale eventually learned there was more to Jed Clampett than his money on The Beverly Hillbillies. We’re not in the money business–we’re in the people business. Let’s start acting like it.

Points to ponder …

  • Does your branch look like a retail store? If not, it should. In fact, Umpqua Bank calls branches stores.
  • Go to your favorite retailer and take notes. What are they doing to enhance a
    retail appearance that your bank or credit union could emulate?
  • Review your favorite retail store websites. You are competing as an online retailer as
    well. Check out popular retail websites and note what you could learn from them.
Spending Over $2 Million on a Branch and Less Than $20,000 on Your Website is Stupid

Spending Over $2 Million on a Branch and Less Than $20,000 on Your Website is Stupid

Okay, the headline pretty much sums it up. So why are credit unions and banks spending millions and millions on brick and mortar and less and less on their websites? They may not be stupid, but perhaps they are crazy.Website - 1

There is a great deal wrong when we view branches as assets and websites as a marketing expense. The reality is more people are coming to your virtual branch (website) long before they come to your physical location.

Financial institutions talk a good game about the importance of technology. However, when it comes to budget cut times we reduce the marketing budget. Which means we often cut any improvements to our website.

When was the last time you updated your website (and changing the rate page doesn’t count)? When was the last time you looked at your website from the members’ viewpoint? When was the last time you had your website reviewed?

We spend tons and tons of money on our physical presence while ignoring the investment in our websites. Yet our websites get far more traffic. What’s up with that?

Improvements to your site could include rotating banners, highlighting key rates, capturing leads, interacting with your members, and improving functionality. What does your website do (besides home banking and bill payment)? New features could include live chat support, unique payment systems (P2P, popmoney, etc.), and personal financial management.

Budgets are not endless. Many decisions come down to resource allocation. If that the case, then maybe you should invest those precious dollars where consumers are going the most: your website.

Don’t Forget the Personal Touch When Working with Generations X and Y

Don’t Forget the Personal Touch When Working with Generations X and Y

The following post was written by Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director for On The Mark Strategies.

Generations Technology - 1

A recent article in American Banker led me to think about how banks and credit unions can better serve the needs of Generation X and Y customers and members. It’s also the first time I’ve ever read about “cultural anthropology,” but that’s a different story for a different time.

Many banks and credit unions fell into the “dazzle them with technology” approach, which, on the surface, isn’t so bad. Gen X and Y consumers grew up with computers, the internet and the advent of mobile devices, so it makes sense to court them where they are most drawn. However, according to the article, banks and credit unions might want to consider a bit of a 180 when it comes to reaching Gens X and Y.

“People between the ages of 35 and 50 put a high premium on personal relationships with their banks,” the study states. This makes sense but seems to go against the prevailing technology winds.

Yes, banks and credit unions must keep up-to-date with emerging trends in high-tech products and services, but this cannot come at the expense of losing the personal connection. Young consumers, it seems, are also drawn by the personal touch when it comes to the place they choose to keep their money. One study participant summed it up by saying “I'm fed up with the inability of the staff to answer questions or the many times I have to tell them my name and account information all over again. Privacy is important, but perhaps it can be combined with someone who knows your name and appreciates your business.”

Showing customers and members that you care about them and appreciate their trust and business is critical to reaching any consumer. Gens X and Y are no different. Ways banks and credit unions can do this include:

  • Becoming an active partner in the communities you serve (for example, sponsor and participate in local events and charities)
  • Become an educational resource for members and customers (consider offering materials or workshops on credit, savings, mortgages. etc.)
  • Customize branded marketing messages that appeal to Gens X and Y (visuals, wording, tone, etc.)
  • Look for ways to create unique consumer experiences (go beyond the expected and wow them)
  • Find ways to align your financial institution with the “green” movement (popular with these age groups)
  • Have an active and engaged website and social media policy  

While staying on top of the latest technology trends is important, banks and credit unions are advised not to forget the personal touch and care consumers desire.