White Elephant v. Secret Santa in credit union marketing

It’s gift-giving season! And there are a lot of ways people give gifts this time of year, from White Elephant to Secret Santa to Favorite Things to Snow Pals. But today, let’s focus on White Elephant and Secret Santa.

More specifically, let’s look at how these gift-giving philosophies apply to your credit union marketing.

What’s White Elephant?

First things first … what’s White Elephant?

White Elephant is celebrated among a group of people and every person buys a gift. All gifts are placed in the center of the group, and each participant receives a number. Going in order, each individual either chooses a new gift to unwrap from the center or they steal a previously opened gift.

The nature of White Elephant means gifts are less personally significant and someone might feel cheated out of something they wanted. Still, it can be a ton of fun with friends (without looking at it from a credit union marketing perspective).

White Elephant marketing

Put your credit union glasses on and the White Elephant philosophy is not how you want your marketing to run. Why?

It lacks the personalization members desire. Trying to please the broadest swath of people means you don’t please anyone at a deep level. You miss the opportunity to mine valuable niches.

Also, you lose authenticity. To appeal to everyone, you send messages inconsistent with your brand identity. Trying to be “trendy” makes you insincere.

Some examples of these White Elephant credit union marketing techniques include:

  • Making your brand voice too generic or bland
  • Choosing a cornucopia of graphic styles rather than one or two
  • Posting social media content not applicable to your institution or community (ex: National Leave Work Early Day but your staff can’t leave early that day)

Secret Santa marketing

Secret Santa is very different from White Elephant. As you know, it involves giving a present to one individual who doesn’t know you’re “Santa.” No competition. Less generic gifts.

You want your credit union marketing to share Secret Santa’s gift-giving inclinations. Grant your marketing a tight focus and concrete direction. Personalize your messaging to a smaller group of people.

OE FCU is great at crafting targeted messaging, with marketing clearly directed at union workers. Similarly, Frontwave CU niches itself with military members and blue-collar folks.

Some tips to help you have Secret Santa credit union marketing:

  • Know your niches’ pain points and target them
  • Advertise products and services tailored to specific groups (ex: teacher loan, firefighter loan, etc.)
  • Present images containing people similar to your target demographics

But your credit union can’t adopt the Secret Santa methodology wholesale. There’s one critical element missing … you!

Put your name after “From”

A central part of Secret Santa is the recipient not knowing the gift-giver’s identity. Your credit union marketing shouldn’t be so mysterious. Every member or potential member must know who you are.

Establish a recognizable brand identity. Start with strategy before moving to visuals. Who are your target groups? What are your brand values? What is your credit union’s personality?

Use your answers to these questions to drive creative decisions. Together, the strategic and creative aspects of your brand ensure members know who’s handing out the gifts.

Overall, pursue a Secret Santa credit union marketing strategy … with a little less “secret” involved. Build a strong brand and disseminate targeted marketing pieces. Help members feel like kids on Christmas morning!


Contact the author: On The Mark Strategies

Contact the author: On The Mark Strategies

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner helping businesses such as credit unions and banks achieve their goals with strategic marketing insights and energized training. Mark ... Web: www.markarnold.com Details