Let’s face it — most consumers think going to the bank or credit union real pain in the you-know-where. Although financial products and services are important to consumers and definitely have emotional impact, they are not typically seen as “sexy” items which people wish to purchase.
Your bank or credit union should take an honest look at the way in which consumers perceive it and answer the question, honestly – “is visiting us a pain?” If consumers, already halfway dreading going to the bank or credit union actually do have a negative experience there, it’s bad for your brand and your bottom line.
Examine the consumer visit from their point of view. Start with the basics. Is your facility easy to see from the road? Is it attractive (for example, landscaping, paint, etc.)? Once inside, how quickly are your consumers greeted? Do you have a queue system and, if so, does it ask consumers to take it upon themselves to sign in or does your staff take the initiative and handle that for them?
Digging deeper, you should next examine subsequent steps in a typical consumer interaction. How long is the average wait time? Do you provide some type of beverage (water, coffee, etc.)? Once a consumer is seated with a representative, is that person skilled and trained to ask questions or are they simply an order-taker with no real drive?
After examining some of these basics (and the above examples are just a few of the many things you should examine), apply the question again — “is visiting us a pain?” If some of the answers to the questions above included responses like “our landscaping is dead,” “the average wait time is 30 minutes,” and “our staff are poorly trained in asking questions,” it’s likely visiting you is a pain for consumers. Now it’s up to you to fix that.
Ways to address this challenge include taking a look at your brand, training, employee culture and accessible member data. It is critical that your bank or credit union examine the consumer interaction experience from the consumer perspective to ensure visiting you isn’t a pain. Because if it is, consumers are more than happy to take their business someplace more pleasant.
A deep-dive marketing audit is also a terrific way to ascertain how easy it is to do business with your financial institution. For more information on marketing audits, please follow this link.
The Credit Union National Association recently released the 2017-2018 Environmental Scan. The E-Scan offers insights in 10 primary areas affecting credit unions, including lending, economics, technology and of course marketing. The E-Scan is a must-read for any credit union executive and is also an outstanding planning tool to use.
The marketing section is entitled “The Big Deal Behind Social Media.” It also mentions many of the other top marketing trends for credit unions, including disruptors, regulations, Generation Z, the evolution of marketing, highly personalized marketing, consumer preferences and the humanization of digital. But the bulk of the section centers around social media and engagement.
According to the E-Scan, there are five factors that come into play when brining engagement into your social media efforts:
(1) Bring value first
As the E-Scan notes, “social media isn’t always about direct response…..once you’re identified as a serial promoter, people will shut you off and tune you out.” Look for ways to engage—not sell—on your social media platforms.
(2) It’s pay to play
“Organic reach is a thing of the past,” the authors say. “Without putting money behind a post, very few people will see it.” The E-Scan suggests credit unions’ posts focus on how your products and services benefit your members, how they are educational and how their brands are making a difference. One of the stats quoted in the E-Scan is that mobile will account for 72% of digital advertising spending by 2019.
(3) It’s a marathon
Social media is not a one-time promotion or once a quarter tactic. Rather, it is strategic in nature. That means a long-term approach is necessary. It will take several years and use multiple mediums.
(4) Assist people
What do you do about negative comments or posts when it comes to your social media efforts? The E-Scan actually goes into great detail in answering that important question by categorizing comments into “positive, neutral, negative, troll and abusive.” Each type of comment requires a different type of response. But when it comes to social, a response is needed.
(5) This is a full-time job
“Put someone on your credit union staff in charge of social media and develop policies for after-hours support,” the E-Scan writes. As we’ve noted multiple times on this blog, there are two S’s of social media: strategy and staff. You can’t have one without the other.
One of the best parts of this year’s E-Scan is the “big questions” it asks after every single section. These questions are strategic in nature and serve as a great starting point for your planning discussions.
These were just a few snippets about social media—there is obviously much more detail about this marketing issue and other relevant areas in the E-Scan itself. To get the full context of the marketing section and to read the other insights, be sure to purchase your copy of the E-Scan. In addition to the report itself, you can also order the full E-Scan package, which includes the E-Scan report, the E-Scan Newsletter, the E-Scan DVD, the Strategic Planning Guide and the E-Scan Research & Advice Portal. When it comes to strategic planning, there is no better resource or tool your credit union can use than CUNA’s Environmental Scan.
While it’s always a good time to have an unbiased third party review your marketing materials, there is one particular period when the analysis can yield the highest impact. That would be the third and fourth quarters.
As John Wanamaker once famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” If you want to know what part of your marketing is working and what part is not, then a marketing audit is the perfect way to find that knowledge.
And doing the audit before next year starts is the perfect time for doing the analysis. Conducting a marketing audit by year-end will:
- Prepare you for budget season—One step of a marketing audit is a complete review of your budget. Are you spending too much, too little or just right? A thorough audit answers that question. But not just the total dollar amount: how are you allowcating those resources? For example, maybe you should spend more on digital and less on traditional. Credit unions and banks are about to start budgeting for 2018. A marketing audit is a great tool to help you prepare that upcoming budget.
- Give you fresh ideas for next year—Sometimes we can feel stagnant with our promotions. Like we are doing the same things each and every year. A complete marketing audit offers new perspectives. It brings in best practices for what growing and profitable financial institutiosn are doing with their marketing. As Lori Perkins, vice president of marketing for Rock Valley Credit Union said, “Business is way up since our marketing audit. We’ve had thirteen consecutive months of positive loan growth since the marketing audit. Our assets are up, new members are up and checking accounts are up.” A marketing audit is a great tool to use when you are stagnant or not experiencing desired growth.
- Jump start your strategic plan—Just like it’s budget season, it’s also strategic planning season. And one of the best outcomes from a marketing audit is the strategic suggestions it gives for improving your financial instition. It serves as a roadmap for your upcoming strategy. As Jay Curtis, president of First Credit Union said, “We were extremely pleased with the marketing audit conducted. I consider the marketing audit process key to our future success.” A marketing audit is a great tool to prepare for next year.
Successful financial institutions have third parties audit their marketing. It just makes them better. And there’s no better time to do a marketing audit than before year-end. If you would like information on how a marketing audit can lead to growth and success, contact Mark at 214-538-4147.
In the financial services industry, the mere mention of an audit makes some people nervous. Often, they start second guessing themselves. What if we made a mistake? What if we’re not as stable as we thought we were? What if they tell us we need help?
Here’s the question they should be asking. If you have the chance to be even better than you already are, don’t you want to take advantage of that opportunity?
Financial institutions conduct financial audits all the time, but how many conduct marketing audits? Unfortunately, far too few.
A marketing audit, as the name implies, is an examination of your financial institution’s marketing collateral, website, social media presence, marketing budget, marketing calendar and marketing strategies. Most of the time, a thorough marketing audit also includes mystery shops of not only your branches but of your competition’s branches, as well.
A marketing audit is a unique opportunity to have an objective third party identify the strengths and weaknesses in your marketing initiatives and observe whether or not what you advertise (i.e. convenience, friendly service, etc.) is actually being executed at your branches. If your financial institution has never been through a marketing audit, here are three reasons you should consider it.
A marketing audit helps your marketing budget
Every marketing budget has a limit, and most marketers say theirs is too small. A marketing audit identifies how much you should be spending and the most effective ways to spend it. If something isn’t working, why should you continue spending money doing it? On the flip side, you may have a campaign you’d like to do more often, but you don’t have the budget to do it. Stopping what isn’t effective clears up more money to do what is effective.
A marketing audit identifies brand gaps
Your job as a marketer is to promote your financial institution and generate interest in consumers. That all becomes pointless if consumers do not receive the service in your branches and call center that you promise in your marketing collateral. That’s a brand gap. You could have the most attractive, attention-getting marketing collateral in the industry, but have nobody to reinforce that in other parts of your financial institution. A marketing audit identifies those brand gaps and provides recommendations on how to close them so your entire organization is more efficient.
A marketing audit gives you permission to say no
It’s no secret that marketing and other parts of the organization don’t always agree. Have you ever had a CEO or other C-suite executive make you do a campaign that didn’t fit with your brand or your target audience? A marketing audit puts the tools in your arsenal to demonstrate why that person’s idea is not a wise marketing investment. Believe it or not, most executives are more willing to listen to your marketing department after they pay a third party to review your marketing efforts.
Marketing defines how consumers view your financial institution. A marketing audit will analyze the effectiveness of those efforts and help you maximize and grow your marketing results.
Note: This article originally ran on Deluxe.
I have the privilege of facilitating workshops for bank and credit union associations across the country. During a recent workshop I conducted on branding, participants took a valuable detour to discuss financial institution name changes.
I have worked in this industry a long time, and I’m still amazed at the stories my workshop participants tell me about how their financial institutions were renamed. Based on that recent workshop, I offer you four methods your financial institution should never use to change its name.
We like (fill in the blank)…let’s do that. Your name change efforts are doomed for failure if the name is selected based on the common interest of a few employees.
“We like butterflies, let’s name it after that.”
“Everybody likes patriotic themes. Let’s go in that direction.”
A name change requires research and strategy and should reflect your financial institution’s potential for growth. It’s not based on what random people like.
Let the CEO do it. Your CEO is taking a big gamble if he or she changes the name without anyone else knowing about it. This actually happened in at least one financial institution we know. The CEO didn’t just choose the name. He also worked with a vendor and had a logo created to match the new name. The result was not good. A name change using this method may work for a small business owned by one person, but your financial institution does not fit that description.
Choose it based on a cool logo. This makes about as much sense as choosing a house because the window treatments in the model home look good. You don’t choose a name based on a logo. In fact, you shouldn’t even have a logo until after your research and name change strategy are complete.
Do everything in-house. I may be biased on this, but trust me when I say the last thing your financial institution needs is a handful of executives and board members sitting around a table re-naming your financial institution. You need outside perspective and legal guidance, among other expertise.
Changing your financial institution’s name is a complex undertaking. It is a lengthy process that involves both internal and external perspective, incredible focus, proper guidance and an extremely open mind. If you expect your efforts to succeed, avoid the mistakes above, all of which are actual decisions made by financial institutions.
Words matter. They matter when you speak them, and they matter when you write them. That’s especially true when you write them down for consumers to read. As much as you would like to believe your customers or members are reading everything you write, they’re not. The truth is they may not be reading anything you write if you aren’t giving them anything relevant or meaningful. Here are some tips for writing copy consumers will actually read.
Get to the point
The phrase “less is more” is so true for marketing copy. Most consumers are browsing your website or skimming your brochures for a specific purpose. Give them the most important information first and continue on with the second most important thing, and so on. It’s called writing in pyramid style.
Have you ever looked for a recipe online and had to scroll past five pictures of the blogger preparing the recipe before you found what you needed? That’s how your customers or members feel when you bury the information they need. If you make them read or scroll too much before they find any information of value, you lose their attention.
Kiss (Keep It Short and Simple)
The most effective marketing pieces are the ones with just enough copy to tell consumers what they want to know. Most of the time, it doesn’t even require full paragraphs – just an introductory sentence or two followed by bullet points.
Years ago when digital marketing first became a thing, marketers took advantage of unlimited space, which allowed them to use as many words as possible to tout their products or services. At the time, consumers ate it up. Technology has evolved, however, and attention spans have become so short that people can’t even put down their phones long enough to drive. They don’t want paragraph upon paragraph of information and industry jargon. They want short and sweet in their own language.
Explain what’s in it for the reader
Marketing teams love their financial institutions, and they want to share everything they know about them with consumers. Is that what their customers and members want to hear, though? Your financial institution has made great strides since the day it opened in the closet of the local general store, but what does that have to do with consumers today? Is that story saving them time, earning them money or putting them in the car or house of their dreams? Consumers want to know what’s in it for them. If you don’t answer that, you’re wasting your marketing dollars on material they aren’t reading.
Focus on benefits over features
Financial institutions are notorious for marketing features over benefits – especially on loans. Terms as high as 60 months. 100% Financing. Quick approval. Those are all features. Turn those into benefits. For example, affordable monthly payments when you choose longer terms, pay no money out-of-pocket and apply, get approved and drive away on the same day. Your customers or members don’t want to pay more than they have to, and they want the process to go smoothly and quickly. That’s what you need to promote. If you have a really unique feature that nobody else has, definitely promote it, but also explain how it benefits the consumer.
When you give consumers relevant messages in the format they want to receive it, you increase your odds of getting a better return on your marketing collateral and marketing dollars.
Note: This article originally ran on Deluxe.