Credit union digital marketing is not about credit unions

Narcissism has become an epidemic in today’s modern culture and society.

It is defined as the excessive interest in oneself, physical appearance, or an extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration.

According to the book The Narcissism Epidemic, college students now display more narcissistic traits than college students from the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, narcissistic personality traits have risen as fast as obesity rates within the same period.

Social media has helped to fuel this disorder as these sites encourage the promotion of oneself.

Personally, as a part of the millennial generation, I have struggled with my narcissistic tendencies. And while it is a constant struggle, through the accountability of my wife and brother, they continue to help me become more aware of personal growth areas. This in turn has directly impacted my use of social media over the past couple of years in a positive way.

In addition to social media, selfie sticks have also added fuel to society’s narcissistic fire. Think about that term: selfie. After all, I don’t think “selfish sticks” would sell too well. Do you?

Psychology Today states, “Narcissism is bad not just for society as a whole, but also for the individual narcissist. People high on this trait are often unhappy, angry at the world because of the world’s failure to recognize their superiority. They are generally incapable of forming the kinds of deep, meaningful, lasting relationships with others that we all need to live happy, emotionally secure lives.”

With the rise of narcissism in a generation, there is also a decline of empathy, which is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Psychological studies have found empathy traits of students today are lower than the average student thirty years ago.

Your Credit Union’s Digital Marketing Messaging is Narcissistic

Just like in modern society, narcissism has become a digital marketing problem for all financial institutions.

Think about it.

Everyone promotes their superiority in the form of “great rates” and “amazing service.”

This is the primary reason financial marketing and advertising all sounds the same.

Perhaps financial digital marketing is nothing more than a cultural reflection, for when we promote “great rates” and “amazing service,” it is hard to show empathy to a potential member’s questions and concerns. Instead, the product positioning is all about us, our credit union, leaving no room for the more important character, the consumer.

To highlight this example, take a few minutes to review the messaging and product positioning on your website. You will most likely find a listing of commoditized product features that “promote” how great you are.

But after conducting hundreds of usability studies for financial institutions in search of a financial digital marketing plan, we find consumers are first looking for help to a problem they have. Your financial product is nothing more than a means to an end.

Change Your Organization, Then Change Your Digital Marketing

I understand how hard it might be for you to introduce philosophical change into your credit union. Others in marketing might be on board, but you may face resistance at the executive level.

It is at the executive level that you must understand how hard it might be for seasoned financial professionals to change their thinking about how you position your credit union. You must advocate that digital marketing is no longer about you, but consumers’ questions, concerns, hopes, and dreams.

It is simply human nature to fear change.

One way to help illustrate this change for other executives is to flip your organizational chart. If you recall from business school, the traditional organizational chart adds fuel to financial services digital marketing narcissism.

In the traditional organizational chart, the Board of Directors, CEO, and other executives sit at the top. However, there are always two important key stakeholders missing in an organizational structure like this: account holders and the community.

The solution to this problem is to flip your organizational chart and insert account holders and the community at the top. When this flip happens, your executive team and Board of Directors move to the bottom so their leadership will support the top.

And just equally as important as your executive team’s digital leadership is the purpose for which they lead. Your digital marketing purpose transcends your products and processes. It is your purpose, your reason for existence, that consumers buy from you in a highly commoditized marketplace.

When you change your organizational structure, you will change how you perceive the marketplace. When you change this perception, you enable your digital marketing messages to become more empathetic as you address the questions, concerns, hopes, and dreams of consumers and the community sitting at the top of your org chart.

In short, the focus shifts towards your consumers and community. And as a result, away from you.

And when your digital marketing messages become more empathetic, you have the ability to help first and sell second through consumer-centric narratives as you leap ahead of your competition and grow your credit union.


James Robert Lay

James Robert Lay

JAMES ROBERT LAY is one of the world’s leading digital marketing authors, speakers, and advisors for financial brands. As the founder and CEO of the Digital Growth Institute, he ... Web: Details