Credit Union Warning: Bigger is Not Better

James Robert Lay, Grower of Relationships, PTP NEW MEDIA & CU*SWAGby: James Robert Lay, Grower of Relationships, PTP NEW MEDIA & CU*SWAG

Why is it that we think bigger is always better?  Maybe it’s because that’s what society teaches us to believe growing up.  It’s all about the bigger house. The bigger car.  The bigger diamond.  The bigger title at work.  We tend to believe bigger will help us stand out and get us noticed more in the world around us.

Recently, I have been experiencing this more and more in the credit union world too.  Specifically when it comes to credit unions talking about the mass marketing channels they are using.  Take a moment and analyze what you are doing at your credit union and then ask yourself why.

  • Are you running radio ads?
  • Are you airing TV ad spots?
  • Are you using billboards?
  • What about buying mailing lists for an auto recapture campaign?

Why?  Is it the allure of a bigger reach? A bigger audience?  Maybe it’s because we think mass media ad placement is the ‘normal’ thing to do.  Mass media is safe because it’s the way we have always done it.

But what if that’s not the case? What if bigger is not better. It’s time to go deeper.

According to Seth Godin and Dr. Seuss, “We are all weird.”

Seth explains more that, “During the age of mass (mass marketing, mass manufacturing, mass schooling, mass movements) the key was normal. Normal was important because you needed (were required) to fit into your slot.”

Don’t be normal. Be weird. Mass is dead.

So how are those mass marketing channels working out for your credit union?  Are you reaching the three million people your media buy sales rep said you would through TV or radio?  Are you getting those 500,000 eyeballs promised on the evening drive home down the major freeway on that billboard?  Is the list you bought for the auto recapture direct mail campaign going straight from the mailbox to the trash?

Maybe you can relate to one of the following credit union stories.

$20,000 for 150 Visits to a Landing Page
Several weeks ago, I received a call from a credit union whose online marketing creative and strategy is managed by the PTP team.  The marketing manager asked  if she could get a quick report for a landing page that was being used in an offline direct mail campaign. I said sure and asked her what was going on.

She replied they had sent out 22,000 pieces of direct mail to a list they bought targeting communities around their branches. I asked what the response had been and she noted they had not received any loans at all from the campaign.

More importantly, the landing page, referenced on the direct mail piece had only received 150 visits. Whoa.

Just the other day, I received a call from her that they are running another campaign this month targeting a different list they bought.  i had to ask why. She noted that management thought the results would be better this time. WTF? I asked her to check with her management team to see how much junk mail they receive everyday when they get home and if they even look at it or does it go directly in their trash cans.

$100,000 Media Buy Without a Strategic Plan in Place
I was recently chatted with a credit union marketing director that was super excited to start running radio spots in his local market.  He said he could not wait to hear their spots on the radio.  I then asked him what station he listens to and he said he only listens to satellite radio because he hates listening to commercials.

I also had a similar conversation with another credit union VP who said she just bought $120,000 of airtime to run TV ads in her local market.  We chatted further and I asked what were her favorite shows.  She said she DVRs everything because she skips the commercials.

Wait…I’m confused. Both examples shared with me that they bought into these mass media buys to reach a lot of people as promised by their sales reps.  My question is how many other people just like them are choosing when, where and how to listen to music as well as watch the latest shows.

I am not saying that you cannot run effective TV, radio or outdoor campaigns. You can and we have seen it done many times before.  But more often than not, I see credit unions fall in love with the illusion that they are reaching the “masses” through these channels.

But does mass have a bigger reach?  Is bigger really better?  Shout out and start a conversation below.

Seth states, “The epic battle of our generation is between the status quo of mass and the never-ceasing tide of weird.”

Be weird. Be bold. Be different. Because bigger really may not be better.

“That’s what she said,” Michael Scott – The Office

In February of 2002, during his sophomore year at San Jacinto College, James Robert founded PTP NEW MEDIA from his bedroom. Since then, PTP NEW MEDIA has helped credit unions build relationships with members with the help of offline, online, internal and external marketing channels.  Their work has won many state and national marketing awards. He is also behind the movement to help make credit unions fashionably cool with CU*SWAG and was named the first “CU Times Trailblazer 40 Below” of 2012.  James Robert completed his MBA in 2006 and has enjoyed speaking at many different credit union conferences and events.

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