The shame of same: And why are you still using shiny happy people on your website?

Before dating sites became ubiquitous, most people found their partners at work or church, or through friends.  There was likely some kind of common bond already there but remember what it was like on a “first date?” It begins with trying to find something of interest. What kind of music, movies, food do you like?  Where did you grow up? Go to school. How many brothers and sisters do you have?

Remember going through your boyfriend or girlfriend’s record collection? That was a clear indicator of their personality and if you had anything in common. Why was this so important? Because at our core we like being with people that are like us. That’s why the original credit unions worked so well. Teachers helping teachers. Welders helping welders. Military helping military.

Targeting v. Excluding

Credit unions are similar in nature to a grocery store. We offer products that every human needs. We have tons of competition offering the exact same products and our margins are very thin. Consequently credit unions start to focus on the product rather than the people buying the product. When a credit union hangs a banner outside their office that announces “Car Loans” or “Free Checking” it’s akin to a grocery store with a banner that says “We Have Food!”

Everyone knows you have food. But so does the guy across the street and it’s the same food, so why should I buy yours?

“Trying to be all things to all people is a thing of the past.” – Michael Dell


One of the big fears among management in declaring a target audience is “exclusion.” If we target women, we may offend men.  If we target the youth we might put off the old people. And so the shame of same sets in.  This is why so many credit union marketers are using these horrifying “diverse” stock art photos in their advertising and on their websites. Let’s try and include absolutely everyone – so we “appeal” to no one.

Back to the grocery store analogy and a wonderful example of target audience not excluding but rather attracting.  According to a FORBES article, “Trader Joe’s is a perfect example of how to gain a competitive advantage in a crowded space by embracing the immigrant perspective. Their non-conventional culturally-tailored approach and attitude is one that is deeply embedded in the roots of their business model:  from their packaging, product selection, store layout and graphics, to their vendors, employees and management.  The Trader Joe’s brand is diversity on steroids.”

Trader Joe’s was founded by an immigrant. Their target audience is the fastest growing consumer groups in America (i.e. Asians, Indians, Hispanics, etc.) Trader Joe’s knows these consumer groups are loyal and incredibly viral within their communities. Does Trader Joe’s have a guard at the door asking their customers to declare their ethnic origin before they can grab a shopping cart? No! Anyone can shop there, but they have a “community” of loyalists that are marketing for them.

Do you?

Denise Wymore

Denise Wymore

Denise started her credit union career over 30 years ago as a Teller for Pacific NW Federal Credit Union in Portland, Oregon. She moved up and around the org. chart ... Web: www.nacuso.org Details

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