Impact Equation - 1In today’s overly competitive financial services industry, most credit unions and banks are “just making noise rather than making things happen.” That clever play on words is actually the subtitle to Chris Brogan’s and Julien Smith’s latest book, The Impact Equation.

Like their previous book—Trust Agents—this new one is a must read. Trust Agents made my Business Book Hall of Fame, and The Impact Equation is a great companion piece. As the authors noted, this is not a book about social media. Rather it’s about “getting a larger audience to see and act upon your ideas and learning how to build a community around that experience to take it all to an even higher level.”

Below are some of the key points Brogan and Smith make and how we can apply them.

(1) Impact = C x (R + E + A + T + E)

As the title implies, the book’s premise involves the above equation. “C” stands for “Contrast,” “R” stands for “Reach,” “E” stands for “Exposure,” “A” stands for “Articulation,” “T” stands for “Trust” and “E” stands for “Echo.”

  • Application: Review your marketing to see how you are doing in each of those six key areas. They spend a chapter on each equation part and provide examples and ways for you to measure your “impact” in all sections.

(2) Romance thirty

The authors suggest that as a business goal you “romance your 30 best customers.” They suggest giving them concierge-class attention and service to them almost on a daily basis. Rather than marketing or selling to them, romance them.

  • Application: Find your most profitable credit union members or bank customers. It doesn't necessarily have to be 30 (pick a number you can manage effectively). Keep in mind your “best” customers may not be your largest depositors—they probably are the ones with the most loans. Create ways to treat them special and stay in constant contact with them (without bugging them).

(3)    Think of yourself as a TV station

The authors ask this poignant question, “What if your business were a TV station? You have a channel.” Just as you wouldn’t turn into a TV station to only watch ads, your marketing should not just be a continuous steam of information (ads) about your credit union or bank.

  • Application: Make sure you are employing “content marketing” as a strategy. Your marketing plan should not just include ad runs, billboards and commercials. Rather your credit union or bank should send a continuous stream of financial content that truly interests consumers.

(4)    “Tell it to me like I’m six years old.”

We overly complicate marketing. And we certainly say way too much in our marketing. As the authors eloquently say, “Use small words. Use many if you have to (although fewer is better).

  • Application: Conduct a marketing audit for your credit union or bank. Review all your pieces (everything from your annual report to your website) and look for ways to reduce copy. More than likely, you are saying WAY too much in your communication pieces.

(5)    Brevity and mobile rules

Brogan and Smith note this rising trend, “smart phones and tablet computers are outpacing laptops and desktops as the information-consumption product of choice.” People are consuming more information on smaller screens.

  • Application: Make sure your website is configured for mobile (if it’s not, you are already behind). Beyond your mobile site, make sure your marketing pieces are also mobile friendly (shorter messages, e-mails, mobile messages, etc.).

Those are five points Brogan and Smith touch on that help financial institutions—there are many more that will help you learn how to increase your marketing’s impact. I’ve admired Brogan’s work for years—his blog and other content are consistently on my “must-read” list.

If you want to make sure your marketing is truly having an impact—and not just making noise—then read The Impact Equation