Note: The following post is provided courtesy of Paul Jaramillo, president/CEO of Documatix.
In a study done last year by The Financial Brand, cross-selling and deepening relationships was the number one marketing priority for the year—making the onboarding period more relevant than ever. Onboarding refers to the brief period of time after a new account is opened at a financial institution.
However, marketers know that onboarding goes much deeper than that. It’s a chance to create a relationship with new account holders while you’re still fresh in their minds. During those first three to six months you anticipate future needs, establish open communication and provide information for navigating your financial institution.
As the 2014 trend of reaching new account holders continues its importance, Documatix examined how you can couple your email marketing efforts with an onboarding program to make it as effective as possible. As the year comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to re-evaluate your strategy and see if it’s working or if you would like greater results.
We’re releasing a new marketing tool that is specifically designed to automate onboarding campaigns.
According to a creditunions.com study, just a few years ago only 40% of credit unions had an onboarding program. As that number continually climbs, Documatix wanted to give financial institutions an innovative way to take digital onboarding programs an additional step. Here are three reasons to focus on automated onboarding:
Member retention is key for marketers in the financial world. Since word-of-mouth is an extremely influential factor driving people who are looking to switch financial institutions, you can develop a personal relationship with account holders during the onboarding period that inspires them to spread the word. Retention is also an extremely important factor for cross-selling, which leads us to our next point.
Do you know what percentage of your account holders use more than one service? If it’s less than you’d like, onboarding can help you bump up that number. Informing existing members/customers about the other products or services you offer is most effective during the initial onboarding period. They’re focused on the new relationship and how it relates to their money. In fact, if you’re able to meet additional financial needs within this time members are much less likely to leave your financial institution.
When preparing an onboarding campaign for new members and customers, it’s crucial to make sure that you’re tailoring it to what they want to see. This ensures that they’ll open your marketing emails in the future and take advantage of your promotions. That’s why our onboarding tool will allow you to set a campaign rule to be as granular as you want. For example, if a homeowner age 50-60 opens a new checking account you can choose to send them specific email information about mortgages and retirement planning.
For more onboarding tips check out our blog here. Do you currently have an onboarding system at your financial institution? What are some tricks you’ve learned?
Marketers are wordy people. After all, that’s why we’re in marketing. There are many times marketers say too much. Yet all too often, marketers don’t say enough.
But quantity is not the issue when it comes to marketing verbiage. It’s the quality of our words that speaks volumes. If you’re a financial marketer, you are faced with a unique set of challenges (grow, grow and grow your bank or credit union while also living with budget cuts). So what should financial marketers say more often?
Consider these phrases:
- “Our brand is not our logo”—At every possible moment you need to explain to staff, executives and board members what exactly branding is. And what your brand is.
- “Of course I can have this done yesterday”—We all work with deadlines. When you ask when a project is due, just assume it should already be complete.
- “You pay me to provide my opinion”—Say this one carefully or you risk getting labeled a troublemaker. But when possible, gently remind others that you know more about marketing than anyone else in the organization.
- “Help!”—You can’t do all the marketing tasks on your own. It’s okay to seek help and spread the marketing love. If you don't get help you’ll be running around doing so much work and projects eventually you’ll need psychological help.
- “Marketing touches everything”—From the bathroom to the boardroom, marketing is all encompassing. Whether it’s your branches, brochures or break rooms there is nothing that marketing does not impact.
- “Yes we can”—Always assume it can be done. Marketers are “can do” people. Be known as the person in your organization that accomplishes tasks in a timely manner.
- “No”—While this seems to contradict the quote above, the reality is you can’t promote everything at once. Stop adding extra items and messages in your marketing pieces. Keep your marketing materials focused.
- “Not everyone is a marketing expert”—From board members to tellers everyone has an opinion about what makes good marketing. Just because an 80-year old board member didn’t hear or see your ad doesn’t mean it wasn't effective.
- “Everyone is in marketing”—Your front-line staff. Your CEO. Your executives. Your board members. Your accounting personnel. No matter the position, we are all in marketing. They may not know it yet, but they all are marketers (not experts; see point above).
- “Please don’t raise goals and cut the marketing budget at the same time”—Marketing has a budgeting target on its back. That’s fine and to be expected. Just make sure growth goals are also reduced if the marketing budget is reduced.
Those are just ten suggestions. What are other things you think marketers should say?
As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the best branding books I’ve read recently is What Great Bands Do by Denise Yohn. An amazing quote in the book that hit me was:
“The challenge then becomes what I often call the ‘head + heart + hands and feet’ problem. For your employees to understand, embrace and deliver your brand they need to know its values in their heads, feel inspired by them in their hearts and then put them into action with their hands and feet.”
When leading brand workshops for clients (both executives and employees) we let them know there are “Three Cs to a Strong Brand”: clarity, consistency and constancy. While those principles certainly hold true, Yohn’s quote helped me realize there are also “Three Hs to a Strong Brand.”
So here are the three “Hs” of a strong brand:
- Head—You brand starts with your strategy (head). You must determine your vision and your values. If your brand doesn’t stand for something it stands for nothing. Do you know what your brand is about? You must also determine target audiences. Your bank or credit union cannot be all things to all people. Is your brand all over the place?
- Action step: Develop a comprehensive strategic brand plan that differentiates you from your competitors.
- Heart—Your brand must connect with something emotional. Harley-Davidson does not sell motorcycles: they sell a lifestyle. Your credit union or bank is not selling checking accounts or loans. You are making dreams (vacations, new cars, etc.) possible.
- Action step: Tell stories about consumers who use your financial products and services and love you. A huge part of brand building is story building.
- Hands—No matter what brand strategy you develop in the “head” phase, ultimately it’s your employees who must put that brand in action. This what Yohn is addressing in her quote. Your brand will live or die based on how your employees execute it.
- Action step: Conduct brand training for your employees. Not something generic but a program that is customized to who you are as an organization.
Ultimately, your executive team must lead your brand, your employees must live your brand and your targets must love your brand. If you focus on the “Three Hs” of branding your brand is going in the right direction.
In a recent post, I offered Five Ways to Avoid Becoming A Mediocre financial institution. The tips and suggestions offered stemmed from a Credit Union Insight piece regarding Five Signs Your Credit Union is Heading Into Mediocrity. While it’s great to know what the signs of mediocrity are, it is even more important to understand how to avoid getting there in the first place.
As Jim Collins says in Good to Great, “good is the enemy of great.” Good is an easy trap in which banks and credit unions can fall. We do one thing well and then we have a misstep. One strategy works and another one fails. Before we realize it, we’re just a mediocre financial institution: just average and just like every other bank or credit union.
There are 10 ways to avoid that slide to mediocre. Below are five of the 10:
(1) Kill a product or project—There are many strategic initiatives you can take at your credit union or bank. But the bigger question is should you take them? As I wrote a few years ago, there are several things you should stop doing. There are probably products you’re offering or services you’re providing that you are doing just out of routine. Stop adding and start cutting.
(2) Examine your staff’s passions—Displaying passion is critical at all levels of the organization. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, get out. If your employees are not passionate about what they’re doing, get them out. A lack of passion breeds mediocrity. Remember to hire for passion and train for skills.
(3) Dialogue with consumers—While surveys and focus groups can yield empirical data, some of the best research you can do is to simply have an informal chat with consumers about what they like/dislike about banking or your particular financial institution. Discover their pain points. A simple cup of coffee with a consumer can yield powerful data.
(4) Develop and maintain a strong culture—Spend time examining your values. Don’t think values are all that important? Then check out Zappos and how they’ve grown their business at a phenomenal rate primarily with an insanely contagious culture. Review your DNA. What you stand for should never change while how you do things should always change. A strong culture avoids mediocrity.
(5) Focus your staff on learning—The more your learn, the more you earn. And the more your employees learn, the more your bank or credit union earns. As the late John Wooden once said, “A leader who is through learning is through. You must never become satisfied with your ability or level of knowledge.” Make an investment in your employees’ training. If you are satisfied with your staff’s knowledge, then you’re done: you’re already mediocre.
Those are just five of 10 suggestions for ways to avoid that slippery slope slide into mediocrity. Too often we just “settle” for things at our banks or credit unions. We accept mediocrity. Stop being okay with just being average. Avoid mediocrity by taking these proactive steps.
Mediocrity. The very word is detestable. No one wants it. And if you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan like I am you are faced with it every football season. 8-8. Not good enough to make the playoffs. Not bad enough to have a high draft pick. Just “blah.”
Does that also describe your bank or credit union? In a Credit Union Insight piece, I wrote about Five Signs Your Credit Union Is Heading Into Mediocrity. While recognizing what those signs are, it’s also equally important to know how to avoid becoming a mediocre financial institution.
There are 10 ways to avoid that slide to mediocre. Below are five of the 10 (I’ll share the remaining five in an upcoming post):
(1) Conduct strategic planning on a regular basis—If the last time your credit union or bank conducted a strategic planning session was Y2K, then you are probably behind with your planning. One of the keys with strategic planning is consistency. For example, I asked one of my most successful clients why they did strategic planning every single year (their growth was strong, their key ratios were solid, etc.—did they really need to do planning this particular year). One of their board members said the reason for their success was that they committed many years ago to always do a strategic planning session (during good times and bad times).
(2) Make sure you are focused on moving sales up—Sales is the lifeblood of any organization (and any financial institution). If your front-line people are not focused on building relationships with consumers then your bank or credit union will slide into mediocrity. Don’t run away from sales or treat sales like a dirty word. Selling the right way (with more of a service and consumer first approach) works. If you’re not selling you’re not growing. And a lack of growth fosters mediocrity.
(3) Protect your brand at all cost—With every major initiative (new products, additional branches, budget cuts, etc.), you must ask “how will this affect our brand?” Protecting your brand means executives having a brand plan in place and employees living your brand every day. If the brand is not at the forefront of both your long-term strategy and day-to-day activities prepare yourself to suffer through an 8-8 football season.
(4) Determine how your credit union is different—You and your staff must answer the question “what makes our bank/credit union different?” And you can’t use words like community, people or service. That is cliché differentiation. Rather peel that onion layer back and go deep. If you are only dealing with differentiation on a surface level, that’s all you’ll get. Avoid mediocrity by going deep.
(5) Offer at least one consumer-facing product this year—You don’t have to offer one new product a month to stay current. But you do need to offer new products on a regular basis. Maybe it’s mobile banking, investment services, a PFM solution, or a new twist on some type of checking product. The key is that your new offerings must be consumer facing and something that improves the lives of your target audience.
Those are just five suggestions for ways to avoid that slippery slope slide into mediocrity. We’ll give you five more in the next post. In the meantime, what else can credit unions and banks do to avoid mediocrity?