by: Bo McDonald, President, Your Marketing Co
Remember that television ad from the 80’s and 90’s that showed an egg in a hot frying pan? First they showed an egg and you heard: “This is your brain.” Then they threw the egg in a frying pan followed by the words: “This is your brain on drugs.” Lately I’ve seen a lot of credit unions (and some banks) with marketing plans and messages that look a lot like that egg in frying pan. I call that “cocaine advertising.”
What exactly is cocaine advertising? It’s when a marketer gets the evil eye from management after the month end financials come out and they’re just not where they need to be. Many marketers seem to abandon ship at that point, scrambling to spend some extra media dollars or put together a low rate promotion. Many times, it works… For that month. You spend a little extra, and get some new loans in. Then there’s a boost in member growth and you get high on the milk of marketing success when the management team praises you for a job well done. The problem is, how can you beat that next month? You toss the marketing plan away indefinitely. Every month you spend a little more or get a little more crazy with the promotional message or rate offers. You’re now in the vicious cycle of cocaine advertising, trying to get that extra high every month.
Here are three tips to get your credit union off the vicious cycle of needing that high every month and really start serving your members:
- Analyze your credit unions strengths and weaknesses. Understand what you don’t do well. Either try to fix it or stay away from talking about it. Know what you do well and focus in on that particular thing. (Note: “service” is not something you do well. As our good friend Troy Hall from SC Federal says “your tellers don’t have whiter teeth or smile better.” Do your homework and dig for some strengths that have meat to them.)
- Once you know your credit union’s strengths, outline what a member looks like who fits those strengths. For example: if you identify that your credit union started serving the teachers and school employees in your community, go back to your roots. Package some products and services tailored to their needs. Have your business development person focus on the schools. Have them attend school functions open to the community and sponsor weekday brunches for the teachers. The BofA up the street can’t do that. The community banks usually don’t even have the flexibility to do that!
- Lastly, don’t lose focus of this. You may not see an instant impact in your marketing like a good snort of cocaine advertising would, but this is good long-term strategy and relationship building. Pain is the price of progress, it won’t be easy but keep your eye on the goal. You’re offering products and services your competitors can’t or won’t. It has a lot more selling points than your low rate campaign that is great for a month. That rate campaign works until that community bank up the street puts a billboard next to yours advertising loans a quarter percent lower than yours.
It’s uncomfortable to do something different than you have been doing it, but think about it. Your credit union was founded by a group of employees from a certain factory or business. Your credit union grew from its inception by serving them like no one else could, with products and services tailored to that group.
We started off by talking about an old TV ad. Old is new. Just like the retro clothing coming back in style, bring back some retro ideas to your credit union. Watch the numbers start to head in the right direction while your members fall in love with their credit union all over again.
Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co, A veteran of major market media sales and programming, Bo got his start in radio working for a variety of large radio conglomerates including Clear Channel Radio and Citadel Broadcasting. After several years and requests from clients Bo went out on his own to form his own marketing firm. Today, that marketing firm has evolved into a boutique firm serving only the needs of credit unions in the form of marketing, business development, and product development. Why credit unions? Thanks to his parents who are avid credit union supporters, Bo has been a member of credit unions from a young age. www.yourmarketingco.com