Four things we can learn about credit union marketing from a bag of chips

Spoiler: No one likes a stale chip.

Working at a credit union is not without its perks. To celebrate the opening of The Summit Federal Credit Union’s Virtual Branch, our marketing department was presented with a thank-you basket of individually wrapped chips. As I selected and started munching, I realized that there is a lot we can learn about marketing from this small bag of salty goodness. 

  1. Deliver what you promise

If what’s in the bag is anything less than what you say on the outside, there’s a problem. Imagine a photo of beautiful, golden-colored potato chips on the bag, but the contents are shriveled bits, crumbs and all kinds of green. Would you purchase that same type of chip again? Would you even purchase another product from the same brand?

Being consistently true to your promises—whatever the method of delivery–encourages brand loyalty. The flip side of this is not to promise what can’t be delivered. If a credit union can’t promise members a worry-free life, then a “sit back and let us take care of your future” message wouldn’t be a sound brand promise. Not to mention, it would be unethical. 

  1. Let the Air Out of the Bag

Open that full bag of chips and pffft, suddenly you’ve got half the chips you expected. 

In truth, those bags aren’t filled with air; it’s nitrogen gas, which helps keep the chips from spoiling. But this fact doesn’t keep the lack of chips in that space from being… deflating.

Likewise, marketing messaging crowded with nothing are disappointing. Plus, they run the risk of obliterating what might be important. We’ve all seen television ads that left us wondering what the product was. Remember a popular cable company’s “Enjoy Better” slogan? It sounds like someone pulled random words out of a hat. We may have used empty phrases ourselves, like “banking your way.” And how many times can you read “we’re all in this together” before it all blends together–right into the wallpaper? 

Powerful messages are the ones that are clear and speak to the intended audience directly. The best ones tell a story. These messages are not just about something, they’re about someone: your intended audience. Communicate in a way that neither puts them to sleep nor leaves them scratching their heads. 

  1. Highlight Your Unique Flavor

There’s nothing wrong with barbeque or sour cream & onion. But to stand out from all the other chips on that rack, you need a special flavor—nothing gross, just one that people like, recognize and want. If it doesn’t satisfy or is a poorly executed version of something ubiquitous, well, there are plenty of other chips at the convenience store.

What differentiates your credit union from others is your flavor. Make it unique. Let people know why they should make you their financial institution.  Is it the expertise your employees have? Are you accessible to people where they want you to be? Are you supportive of the community? Talk about what makes you different and how that’s good for members and would-be members.

  1. Keep it Fresh

No one wants a stale, floppy chip. Stale social media or web content is scarcely better. 

Make sure people interacting with your brand are regularly presented with “crunchy” content that’s fresh and worthy of sharing. To make it easy, keep a content calendar and use an automatic posting app. These apps let you create and schedule posts long in advance, but it’s a good idea to regularly check what’s coming up soon in the pipeline, so you know that it is still relevant.

But note that fresh doesn’t mean inconsistent! Everything should be on brand and positioned to address the target audience. No half-baked shards. Deliver full, beautiful content chips every time.

Cynthia Kolko

Cynthia Kolko

Cynthia Kolko manages community involvement and public relations activities for The Summit Federal Credit Union, which serves members across Western and Central New York. She is also The Summit's copywriter, ... Web: Details