Everyone else sees things the same way we do, right?

A social media pessimist says, “No one uses Facebook anymore.” A Swiftie says, “Who doesn’t love Taylor Swift?” In the credit union movement, we ask, “Why would ANYONE do business with Wells Fargo?” In other words, why aren’t people beating down our door to join our credit union? Why wouldn’t they?

Our thoughts and ideas are the way the world works. They are blindingly obvious to even a casual observer. When we have the opportunity to explain our position, others will agree with us. Right?

Wrong! This is hardly ever true.

A young couple is standing shoulder to shoulder, observing New York City from the top of the Empire State Building. Beth sees pain, injustice, and despair. Bob sees opportunity, purpose, and adventure. Beth sees Bob as an impractical dreamer; he sees her as a negative pessimist.

Each person has a schema of how the world works. A schema—another name for a belief system—is a mental structure we use to simplify and organize our knowledge of the world around us. We each have schemas about people, politics, music, food, ourselves … and our own brand.

Not everyone will move in the direction you hope for—even with a strong brand. When Coke had their powerful message, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” people sang along but still gravitated towards Pepsi. The same is true of consumers hearing or seeing your credit union’s marketing. It is just as true for your own team members. We seldom, if ever, take off our rose-colored glasses and say things like, “Well, we have all the same things a big bank has, but we’re a credit union. Why isn’t our membership growing?” Our schema tells us that, because we’re a credit union, we believe in what we do, and everyone knows it too.

Dr. Maria Konnikova, a strikingly powerful persuasion researcher, says the more a story transports us into its world, the more likely we are to believe it. The sweep of a story overcomes the facts of logic. When a story entertains or compels us, we are likely to agree with the beliefs the story implies. We read credit union trades, network with peers within our industry, and attend the same conferences that all inform our schema.

So, what is the general consumer’s schema? It’s actually a question: “What’s in it for me?” Until you can create a compelling vision, message, and schema that answers that question, you’ll continue missing goals and feeling stuck or frustrated at the lack of growth.

So, how can you change someone’s belief about your credit union? As a marketer, moving beyond generic messaging about your great services and great rates is vital. Being a not-for-profit with a volunteer board of directors is important to our DNA, but it still doesn’t answer the question your potential members are asking: “What’s in it for me?”

Before you become enamored with the idea of being a consumer’s knight in shining armor outfitted with the latest technology, stop. Ask yourself, “What core schemas are at play? How can I disrupt them? How can I change the narrative?” Understanding why a consumer wants to talk about your brand is an incredible breakthrough in marketing. Once you have that understanding, you can control the narrative. And when you control the narrative, then you can help your consumer live happily ever after.


Contact Your Marketing Co

Contact Your Marketing Co

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: yourmarketing.co Details