When you have nothing to say, be careful that you’re not paying money to say it

Have you ever paid for premium advertising thinking that you were targeting the right audience, only to find that your “perfect offer” failed to produce the desired results?

If so, what was your immediate assumption? Maybe you blamed the advertising or assumed you targeted incorrectly. But during your assessment, did you ever consider your message itself could be at fault?

The problem with most credit union ads is they aren’t written to persuade. They’re written not to offend. That’s why most of them include every worn-out cliché you can think of. “We can help with all of your lending needs.” “We have great rates and great service!” “We’re people helping people.” Sound familiar? Why not just add a stock photo of an attractive, smiling person dangling car keys out of their car window and get it over with? (Side note: Using that photo is a fireable offense at YMC!)

So, what’s the difference between “bad advertising” and “good advertising?” Bad advertising concentrates on you or your product. Good advertising focuses on your customer and their life. Did you realize your customer values the opinions of their circle of friends more than anything? They relate to those people. They identify with those people. They even forgive those people when they screw up.

Does it sound like I’m veering off track and talking about friendship instead of marketing? I can almost hear the objections now. “I want to spend my marketing budget making loans and growing new members! Are you telling me I should spend it trying to make friends?”

Yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying. You should focus on making friends first. When your customer appreciates you and finds value in the information you provide, they’re more likely to view you as a friend—even if they’ve never met you.

When crafting your marketing message, talk about things that matter to your customer. Don’t spend your time (or money) trying to convince them to care about something you wish they cared about. Encourage them to become your friend by relating to them. The initial connection is created by what you say and how you say it. But, believe it or not, your customers are more likely to fall in like with you because of what you don’t say. Resist the urge to drone on and on about your credit union and your product. When you do this, your ad sounds like an ad. And according to every study I’ve read over the last few years, roughly 90% of people report that they don’t trust paid advertising.

If you’re a connoisseur of classic country music, heed the legendary words of Keith Whitley, “You say it best when you say nothing at all.” If you’re not a fan of country music, well—it’s still good advice. Don’t try to sell yourself. Share knowledge. Solve problems. Give people a reason to pay attention to what you have to say. Over the years, this approach has proven to be effective in everything from old-school radio ads to PPC digital marketing.

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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