One of my favorite things to do when I attend a conference is to spend some time talking with credit union marketers. I love to hear what’s going well, but I also enjoy helping them troubleshoot the problems that are keeping them from success. In talking with those credit unions that have a marketing department of one (sometimes it’s just the CEO!), I’ve discovered that they all encounter a few common obstacles on a regular basis. As we head into the time of year when marketing plans are traditionally drafted and approved, here are three tips to help you avoid those same hurdles:
- Don’t schedule a meeting with every skilled ad rep that sends you an email or walks into your branch. They know exactly which buttons to push to get that meeting—and eventually your signature. Before you agree to meet with them, ask them some specific questions to determine whether they’re offering a product or service that lines up with your goals or simply trying to sell you the marketing package-of-the-week.
- Don’t become a “Cocaine Advertiser.” Cocaine advertising is the phrase I use to describe the desperate tactics you might be tempted to employ when loans are down or membership growth isn’t as robust as you’d like. You settle for the quick high that comes from doing lines of whatever marketing gimmick is being pushed at the moment. The rush of activity might make you feel like you’re accomplishing something, but in the end, all you get is a temporary fix. Instead of taking this short-sighted approach, look in the mirror and identify the internal issues might be keeping your credit union from success. Then, adjust your marketing accordingly.
- Craft the right message by speaking to your ideal member. What struggles are they having? What media are they consuming? What truly matters to them? Capture their interest by talking about them, not you. The headline is the primary source of your success. Rather than pushing your credit union’s name, use this simple, powerful marketing tool to communicate how you can make your ideal member’s life better. Remember, people only care about who you are AFTER they discover what you can do for them.
There’s a fourth tip, but it only matters if you’ve followed the first three. The tip? Be consistently patient. You can earn people’s trust, but they tend to grant it slowly and carefully. Marketing is not a silver bullet or lipstick to dress up a pig. It takes consistent effort to learn where you can reach your ideal member and persistent focus to figure out how to meet them there on a regular basis.