Marketing message falling flat? Here’s how to fix it

“Just fish where the fish are.” Sound marketing advice when trying to place your credit union marketing message where those members you’re seeking to attract are. It makes total sense. If you want to attract accordion players into your accordion store, you advertise on the polka music station.

But wait. What if I challenged this age-old advice and said it doesn’t go far enough, especially for credit unions?

Fishing where the fish are is just the first step. If you really want to see success and improved ROI from your credit union marketing dollars, dive a little deeper into strategy. Put yourself in the mind of your ideal member and take into account the context of your messaging, the feelings of the consumer, and their situation.

It’s not just fishing where the fish are, but also fishing the way they want to be caught.

In normal speak, you must connect with your members or potential members the way they want to connect and at a particular time, about a particular product, in a particular medium.

Understanding how those potential members want to connect and their expectations about the conversation are based on the media they are consuming at the point you are starting that conversation with them. Understanding their needs that they feel you can address. I’m always amazed in a credit union mission and vision session when I ask what consumers want, the first answers are always “loans, checking accounts, etc.” Instead of taking a moment to humanize the answers like “less stress, more time with family, etc.” we jump right into products.

Mint Valley Federal Credit Union ditched the “we have good rates” marketing messaging and acknowledged the box most people feel put into when applying for a loan. The messaging shifted to ‘there is no “box”’ at Mint Valley, and the credit union experienced 33% loan growth and much larger competitors raising their eyebrows when this boutique credit union started eating away at their market share.

When Maple Federal Credit Union started acknowledging it was the “perfect place for imperfect people,” it grew membership double digits within the last two quarters.

After Great Meadow Federal Credit Union moved beyond product and focused on how those products improved members’ lives (and just plain embraced the word improve), it grew membership nearly 10% for four quarters in a row.

I can show you the best fishing hole (or place to advertise), but if you tie a car battery to your fishing line instead of a worm, your chances for success are slim.

Before we work on that next piece of creative for credit union marketing, YMC will hit pause and ask the question: “What does the consumer want?” If the answer is the product or service you’re trying to sell, it’s time to dig deeper. What is the outcome of using that product or service? What happens if that consumer doesn’t accept our offer, or worse, what if they accept someone else’s offer? Map all of this out and pull out the important pieces to humanize your credit union marketing message. If you’re feeling stuck, the YMC team is always an email away.

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

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