We’re closing in quickly on the final quarter of the year, which tends to be a time for reflection. This has been anything but the typical year, so we’re going to need a bit more than some tweaks to the old goals and rules – we need a rewrite.
It’s a big list of big things we’re responding to and grappling with: a pandemic, an energized movement for social justice, natural disasters, a presidential election… And all of these have an impact on our business and members.
These major moments should push us to become better. In fact, to thrive in these changing times, we will need to be better. Here are a few nudges and thoughts for consideration while you’re reflecting on this year and planning for next.
Ethical and Inclusive Marketing
We are expected, and required, to provide the truth in our marketing. As our starting point, we should be clear and transparent in details of our products and services, fees and terms. Beyond those basics, there is more we can do to make sure that our marketing and design is fair.
Do you know what barriers exist for your member groups? This information can help you understand if the pricing of your products, the way you describe them, and the channels you’re using to make them available, are appropriate and fair. It doesn’t help to have a great product that is hard to access, or a convenient product that doesn’t really solve the right problem.
Additionally, whether you’re lucky enough to have pictures of actual members or you need to rely on stock photos, be inclusive and sensitive in the portrayal of member groups. To help you find issues with how you use imagery, check to see what assumptions you’re making and if your opinion is colored by biases. When you make an assumption, is it because of a stereotype, or because you’ve done the research and talked to your audience about a problem they have to solve?
Understand Your Members’ New Needs
When revisiting what you know about your member segments, check in on their major pain points. How have they changed this year and has anything gone from a relatively minor inconvenience to a major crisis? The way we care for children or elderly family members, the way we shop, and the way we work may look incredibly different for the foreseeable future. This means a change to members’ challenges, but also an opportunity in new priorities or preferences.
To fill in the new picture, look at your data and survey your members. Transactional data, like the types of accounts or services that members are using, can help you provide support while using something new or suggestions for adding complementary services. Behavioral data, like topics being searched, can help you determine what’s top-of-mind and what information you should be providing.
Really look at your products, services, and competencies. Where can you offer unique value? By looking at your membership’s specific needs, you may be able to identify solutions that are not currently being offered.
Make Your Shift to Digital
If you haven’t done this yet, it’s time. Make sure your plan incorporates social marketing, SEO and content, and email messaging. You can also add influencer-led campaigns, particularly if you have strong connections in the community or with a subject-matter-expert.
Start with an audit of your website and social pages to make sure they are accurate and working correctly. Next, look at all the places where your major member groups are spending their time online, what they are reading or where they are interacting. This will help you identify what kinds of content you should create, where to place messaging and what keywords to use.
Like many credit unions, if you’ve always prided yourself on your in-person interactions, this shift can be a challenge. But technology is making it easier and easier to develop very personalized digital interactions. Use the data you have, paired with what you know about each of your members, to help guide your conversations. Many tools allow you to create dynamic content or insert a relevant piece of your contact’s information. Work on making each digital interaction personalized and packed with value for that individual, just like you would do if they were standing in front of you.
Stay Nimble & Engaged
Think back to where you were in March; things have changed so much in the last six months. And there’s almost certainly more to come. It’s incredibly important to find flexibility when the world around us is in this constant state of change.
For marketers, engaging our teams and finding creativity looks a bit different these days. Find tools that work for you, that get your brains working and allow for collaboration. It could be as simple as starting your zoom meetings with a quick innovation activity or sharing a digital inspiration board.
As you’re planning out your next moves, think a little more like a futurist. What are some different routes the next 6/12/18 months could take? You may choose to create a few plans that incorporate things like a COVID-19 vaccine, changes to small business needs due to the holidays or seasons, impacts from the upcoming election, etc. What would make a big impact on your community and how could you position yourself to respond in the way you’d like?
Credit unions have always had their members’ best interest at heart, and that is incredibly important right now. Push yourself and encourage your team to rise to the new challenges so you can continue to provide meaningful value to your members.