Every bank or credit union wants to grow their brand. In fact, brand growth is probably a major strategic initiative at almost every financial institution. But what is the best way to grow that brand? Is it a media awareness campaign, public relations efforts, or community events? No. The best way to add new consumers, increase checking accounts and grow loans and deposits is through word of mouth marketing.

While seasoned marketers know the importance of word of mouth marketing, how do you actually do it? One place to start is by reading Fizz, a new book by Ted Wright. The book’s subtitle summarizes the theme pretty well: “harness the power of word of mouth marketing to drive brand growth.” Wright has years of experience leading Fizz, a word of mouth marketing agency. So he shares tons of power-packed insights learned over many successes (and failures).

Below are some of the key points Wright emphasizes in Fizz, along with how banks and credit unions can apply them.

(1) Ask what matters

“Nobody cares about any of the following: your anniversary, the fact that your company is family owned….too many companies want to talk about stuff that matters greatly within their four walls but isn’t likely to inspire a single conversation outside of them,” Wright notes. In other words, just because it matters to you doesn’t mean it matters to them.

  • Application: Wright encourages companies to ask what is something about your brand that inspires a conversation. So the next time you are talking about how to grow your bank or credit union’s brand ask “what do we do or offer that would compel people to talk about us?” Get serious. Do some soul searching. Remember, no one talks about a boring business.

(2) Use a talkable story

Once you determine what matters to your target consumers, you need to make sure your storing is compelling. Wright calls this a “talkable story.” He elaborates by saying, “For a story to be talkable, it has to be three things: relevant, interesting, and authentic. Fail on any one of these points, and your story probably won’t be shared.”

  • Application: Make sure your bank or credit union’s products are relevant to consumers, that your employees are interesting and that your story is real. Stop pushing ad slogans and words that are cliché. Ask yourself, if you didn’t work at your financial institution, would you talk about it? If the answer is no, then change your story.

(3) Encourage face-to-face over social

While social media marketing is certainly a hot topic and buzzword today, Wright argues that face-to-face conversations trump the digital world. He notes that “only 7% of word of mouth is online.” He emphasizes that offline conversations tend to be more positive and memorable.

  • Application: Don’t put all your eggs into the digital basket. I’ll be honest: this part of the book surprised and challenged me. My guess is James Robert Lay and CU Grow would argue you should leverage a digital strategy WITH word of mouth marketing and story telling. So when it comes to talking, just make sure you are talking directly with your target audiences. No talking means no word of mouth.

Those are a few of the key insights from the book. To learn the rest of Wright’s word of mouth principles, you’ll want to read Fizz, which I highly encourage you to do. The best aspect about the book is that it combines two key principles to grow your credit union or bank: word of mouth marketing and brand building.

If you want to get people talking about your credit union or bank’s brand, then read Fizz.

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