The ability to tell your organization’s story from the inside-out is the secret to successful branding and marketing.
Allow me to divulge a few more secrets:
- Video did not kill the radio star
- Social media did not kill traditional advertising
- Credit unions have a treasure trove of marketing strategies that can be excavated cost-effectively
PR is not dead. Likewise, neither radio nor other legacy media are dead; some might be on life support because of poor decisions but two decades after the invasion of internet marketing, traditional media outlets are improving efforts to meld with new media. As a radio veteran, I’m partial to one-on-one communication. It is direct, intimate, and effective, not unlike social media. While tens of thousands may be listening or following simultaneously, both media are usually consumed privately, and both are great outlets for positioning, branding, and messaging.
Let’s focus on the third bullet. Every organization is sitting on a wealth of interesting, relatable, and edifying stories that are fodder for brilliant marketing campaigns, especially credit unions. The credit union difference is its advantage. For readers who may not be aware, credit unions are comprised of members, not customers. These financial institutions are formed by and for the members they serve. Because of this, members tend to have an affinity for their credit union, and most members have a credit union story. There is an emotional connection, as well as nostalgia and loyalty. Credit unions tend to have as members multiple generations of families, employees, and community members, or the FI is the common denominator among groups of people, including its employees. Credit unions have a tremendous reservoir of stories to tell.
There is no better place from which to originate branding, promotions, and all marketing than from within. It is a matter of seeing the forest for the trees, a concept illustrated well in Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist.” Santiago, the protagonist, is a shepherd boy with great ambition. He travels from Spain through the Egyptian desert in search of exquisite treasures. Through Santiago’s journey, the reader is engaged with a wealth of life lessons. Despite learning much along the way, Santiago arrives home forlorn, initially, because he did not find the treasure he sought. Spoiler alert: in the final pages, Santiago realizes the treasure was in his hometown all along.
The point is you do not need to look in the desert for great marketing ideas. Identifying and integrating into your marketing strategy the stories of those who constitute your organization—employees, members, customers, vendors, the community—is highly effective and cost-efficient.
I have the honor of helping to plan and emcee The Dakota Credit Union Association’s 2021 New Ideas Conference, which will focus on Storytelling. My presentation PR Lives! Telling Your Story from the Inside Out, is an expansion of this article. While the October conference is limited to DakCu members, attendees will be encouraged to share with their respective networks information as it unfolds; therefore, takeaways will be widely available. I will also share on this platform a synopsis of event presentations, including details of the workshop I will lead, where attendees will be broken into teams to create a communication campaign strategy.
The who’s who of keynote presenters and topics include:
- Lee Wojnar, VP of Marketing, O Bee Financial – eMotion: Storytelling from Guerrilla Marketing to the Digital Divide
- Ashish Garg, CEO and co-founder of Eltropy – The Value of Reputation Management
- Eric Steinhoff, Credit Risk Leader, Scienaptic AI – Unlocking growth in the post-vaccine world using AI
- Larry Pruss, Senior Vice President, SRM – Decrypting Crypto | What Credit Unions Can’t Afford to Ignore about Blockchain in 2021
- Chris Lorence, CUNA, Chief Credit Union Awareness Officer
- Jeff Olson, DakCU President and CEO
It is imperative to tell your brand’s story from the inside out because the line between external and internal communication has become increasingly narrow. Organizational culture is no longer an internal affair; it is right there for all to see. Culture is part of an organization’s brand, and its most valuable asset, people, have an enormous influence on the perception of that brand. They are brand ambassadors and conduits for messaging.
Sure, the art of storytelling within marketing is not new but the technology for identifying, engaging, and responding to audiences is always evolving.