A vision statement is a critical component of any successful business. Ironically, it is also the most overlooked and undervalued business component. In most companies, vision statements spend more time decorating walls then they spend actually guiding the organization. Sometimes they hang there so long, there is nobody left in the organization who knows what they mean, who wrote them or why they should care.
Can you recite your company’s vision statement from memory? If you don’t have it memorized, do you happen to know the gist of your company’s vision statement? If you don’t, you’re in good company. About 70% of employees in most organizations cannot recite the vision statement, and it’s probably not their fault. When that many employees don’t know the company’s vision, the company either doesn’t have one, it has a bad one or it doesn’t use its vision statement for its intended purpose.
A vision statement is the company’s internal GPS. It defines purpose, provides direction and communicates what is important to the organization. A good vision statement inspires employees to give their best and provides direction on how they are expected to behave. It stretches the organization beyond its four walls and sets priorities. An effective mission statement challenges the organization to grow and provides a mental picture of what long-term goals the organization plans to accomplish. The best vision statements are clear, memorable, inspirational and concise.
Here are some reasons why so many vision statements never reach their full potential.
They Lack Clarity
How many times have you read an entire document produced by your company, yet had no idea what the point was? That happens a lot with vision statements. Businesses use far too many words to say nothing important. Many fall into the trap of using a lot of corporate jargon to make themselves appear more intelligent. The result is a statement which looks like it was run through spell check with all recommended changes accepted. The true meaning gets distorted.
They Offer No Destination
A vision statement is a company’s roadmap. It has an endpoint and a clear path to get there. A good vision statement is simple. It describes what your company does, it tells employees and customers where the company is headed and it is easy to recite or explain. A vision statement does not define how the vision is accomplished. That is the mission statement’s job.
Read the March issue of my monthly newsletter for more information on why vision statements fall short. The article includes examples of good and bad vision statements and also shares the story of a credit union that is using its vision statement as the catalyst to transform an entire community.
We live in an age in which consumers are bombarded all day and night by a ridiculously expansive array of marketing messages. Far from the “good old days” of advertising mainly in direct mail, newspapers, radio and television, marketing ads now come from every corner of our existence including the Internet, social media, bathroom stalls and even outer space.
With so many marketing messages flying at the average consumer every day, it’s no wonder marketplace trust and peace of mind are increasingly hard to reach. To build deep and lasting relationships with consumers, today’s business world requires an atmosphere of two-way trust.
Consider the following tips and ideas when building consumer trust at your credit union or bank.
Make every day a job well done. Instead of fixating so much on trust, just make sure your bank or credit union is doing the best possible job for its consumers every day. When you’re doing good work, trust from those you serve flows naturally. This is especially important with your front-line staff, those who touch consumers every day. You are not just in banking—you are in retail.
Admit when you make a mistake. No one is perfect. This includes financial institutions. When the inevitable mistake occurs, respond directly and openly about it. Own up to what happened and over-communicate with the affected consumers about what you are doing to correct it. Sometimes just the empowerment of knowing is what consumers need to help retain a feeling of trust.
Convey genuineness in your marketing. Most modern savvy consumers can spot cheesy, over the top advertising in a heartbeat. Ensure all your marketing materials, from the signs out front to your printed materials and Internet presence, work together to enhance your overall bank or credit union brand and trust factor. Don’t market what you are not. Use real people in your marketing.
Dialogue with your consumers. Take it a step beyond the outdated suggestion box and really work to become an active listener for your customers or members. People are much more likely to favorably respond to a conversation than something they perceive as a sales pitch. Hear their thoughts (even the complaints) and make sure consumers know you will respond.
Just like the stereotypical snake oil salesman in so many Old West movies and television shows, consumers don’t often buy from people they do not trust. It’s the same in today’s financial services world. Working now to build a critical bridge of trust to your customers or members can help ensure your bank or credit union enjoys the benefits of a mutually trusting relationship for years to come.
“What’s the ROI of social media?” Do you ever get that question? It’s probably raised at every management team and board meeting. While it’s certainly a fair question (and there’s plenty written about the subject), sometimes social media’s ROI goes beyond numbers.
There are times when social media simply makes an impact—a human impact.
Consider the case of Southwest Airlines Federal Credit Union ($300 million, Dallas, TX). For two weeks during December, the credit union conducted a “12 Days of Christmas” promotion on their Facebook page. Only they weren’t really promoting the credit union. They were making an impact.
During the two weeks, members entered a contest for daily prizes through an app on the credit union’s Facebook page. Prizes included Visa gift cards, iTunes gift cards or tickets to a show. With each entry form, however, members also nominated someone else to win the “final prize” on the contest’s last day. The “final prize” was $500 cash for someone who could use a little help during the holidays.
“The response was incredible,” said Crosby Butler, member development representative for Southwest Airlines FCU. Over 300 entries were made, nominating a friend, co-worker or family member.
The entry that received the $500 was a member who nominated her brother’s family. The family had four kids of their own plus three adopted children from another family whose parents were struggling with addiction.
“There were so many days I wish I could do more for them,” the Southwest Airlines FCU member said. “When I saw the contest, I thought what a surprise it would be go give them $500 and make Christmas a little less stressful.”
How do you put the ROI on that? You don’t. You use social media to make an impact (one member and family at a time).
There is home banking. There is mobile banking. There is digital banking. And then there is “me” banking. The brainchild of Donna Kimes, vice president of marketing for Farmers & Merchants Bank in Arkansas, “me” banking is an example of a successful financial institution’s brand. Below is a brief Q&A with Kimes and how Farmers & Merchants brand works.
(1) Can you please explain Famers & Merchants brand “me banking?”
We came up with the idea of giving our level of service a name in about 1998 or 1999. There was a of lot talk about branding back then and through a series of long discussions with our ad agency, they suggested Me Banking. It literally came from discussions with employees. I asked our staff to be sure to wear their nametags when they were outside the bank for about a month and tell me about their interactions. The break through was when employees said how proud it made them feel when someone in the public would say “Oh, that’s MY bank!”
(2) What does “me banking” mean?
During this development phase a catch phrase was “It’s all about You!”We’ve since ditched that because it became so overused. Me Banking means giving the customer MORE than expected.
(3) You even have the “me banking” concept down to your URL and your e-mail address. Why is that?
Our url was fmbarkansas. Quite literally all I could see was Barkansas, which I hated. Fortunately our customers knew the Me Banking brand so well, it was an easy transition. Plus, it fits perfectly with putting banking right in the hands of our customer….My Bank=Me Bank.
(4) What results and feedback have you received from “me banking?”
When we launched the brand to the employees in 2000, they stood up and cheered. Gives me goose bumps remembering that. It’s so entrenches in our culture that often when customers need/want something a little extraordinary, they will say “Hey, I need a little Me Banking…” I just love that!
(5) Cynics will say that banks are never about “me” but always about themselves. How do you communicate your brand to your customers?
It’s really about actions, isn’t it? No matter what you say, it’s what you DO that counts. We could never have pulled off Me Banking if our people weren’t already doing it.
(6) How do you get your staff to live the “me banking” brand?