We need to be talking!

Author: Debra  //  Category: Marketing

I brought this topic up back in November of 2011. Since then, more about I keep hearing from so many sources that if we don’t get get people talking about us, anaemia we are missing out on the strongest marketing resource we have at our disposal.

“Conversation is the new SEO–the brands that people talk about most will rise to the top of search engines” WeAreSocial.net

We have a gorgeous events blog that sits on our front page. We can use this as a huge billboard to tell our members and the community who we are and what we are doing. There are so many amazing things we are involved in currently.  I need to find a way to get the people involved in the events excited and writing about their experiences and sharing photos. First person accounts are far more engaging than passing it off to a copy editor.

As we get better at sharing our involvement, the amount of conversations will increase. When people share our stories, we will rise on the search engines faster than any paid advertising.

Imagine the following scenario:

You are in a meeting and one of the people makes an off-handed funny statement. Everyone at the table pauses a moment, shocked (because it’s a little edgy), then the ideas flow. This isn’t just an ordinary ideal, it’s polarizing!

and that’s where it sits for months. Why? Because it’s a play on words and makes people a little uneasy. Is it dirty? No! Is it offensive? No! Is it politically incorrect? No! Is it a great idea that will get people talking? YES!

And that’s the point. We need to get people talking about us. We need to make ourselves stand out in the crowd. We need to take chances and broadcast all the wonderful things we do in the community. We need to proudly boast and get folks excited to share our stories.

The safer we stay, the more we fade into obscurity.

Because, after all, if we don’t give a shirt, who will?

Moving Target

Author: Debra  //  Category: Marketing

It was about four years ago when we started talking about Gen Y as a demographic to market to. We’ve created a program to appeal to the age ranges between…wait, click was that 16 to 29. No, more about 14 to 32. *thinks* 18 to 28?

There are three large problems I am witnessing when it comes to addressing our Gen Y members, try and until we clear these hurdles, our results are going to be muddy at best.

  1. We need a clear, specific standard by which we define Gen Y.
  2. Gen Y is a demographic of people born between a date range, not just a range of ages.
  3. Those at the mid to upper range of ages cannot and should absolutely not be marketed to the same way as the younger members of that group.

1. If we are constantly changing what we call Gen Y, we can’t nail down the right marketing. This should not be nebulous and moving. Truth is…we need to stop calling it “marketing to Gen Y” and start calling it “Marketing to young adults who are getting into college and the job market, all the way to getting married and having a family.”  There is nothing wrong with that. It would probably be a lot easier to manage the program if it always dealt with members between the ages of 18 and 28. Then let’s make that decision and run with it.

2. The alternative is to evolve the plan so that we are going after a market that is growing up and changing. Now there’s a concept to sink your teeth into. There’s been so much studied about Gen Y and their habits, but how are we changing how we address their needs as they age? When we started, we had the idea of introducing the program to kids as young as 14.  Today, those same members are now 18. Those that are 14…they are a new generation.

3. What appeals to a member who is looking at graduating high school is not the same things that will appeal to them in 4 or 5 years when they graduate college.  If they even get to or through college. Not everyone gets that opportunity. How can we market to a high school graduate and still make the person buying their first house and planning a family feel like we understand them too?

So can we have a canned program that will appeal to everyone at the same time?  I think we need to segment the program and start looking at a whole lifestyle approach to serving our member’s needs. As marketers, we need to juggle marketing to specific age groups -and- understanding the generational differences as they move from one group to the next.

 

On Fire and Inspired

Author: Debra  //  Category: Marketing

I can’t even begin to explain how deeply I was inspired by the Colloquium. The best I can do is to share the big things that happened. There were three specific ideas that I am bringing back as projects that I feel incredibly, viagra sale deeply passionate about.

  • We -must– do a superior job at sharing our stories. Only 11% of the Filene associated credit unions are sharing their stories to the membership. We are being encourged to not let this opportunity fly past us.  We have a leading edge format (our blogs and social media presense), but we are not populating it with info. I still don’t know what the branches are doing in their communities. It frustrates me that we are doing so much, but not talking about it. No one is writing for the community blog, or sending me regular info both pre and post events so that I can get the word out. Our blog and facebook and linked in and twitter should be full of these stories.  We need to invite our members to these events on a grander scale, not only just telling them about what we did.
    • I need guidance on how to make this happen. I can only report on what I know. But I will do whatever it is going to take to see that we stand out in our communities for all that we do.
  • Frank mentioned at our budget meeting that he would like me trained to write apps. At the time, I had no impetus other than ‘oh cool talent to have.’ I had a moment of inspiration where I came up with a fantastic app that I don’t see available. I would like to develop and write an app for mobile devices that enables a person to see what kind of events are going on that they could volunteer at. It would be searchable by organization or date. Imagine grabbing your phone and looking up what’s going on locally on a particular weekend. We could start this out by just doing ELGA events, then branching out to Genesee County events…and from there, get people to use our model for building this for their communities. I still have a lot to learn, but this is something I want to work on.
    • I can learn this skillset on Lynda.com. This would be a side project.
    • I would love to work with Cheryl and the Business Development Team on this as a project. We need to brainstorm how to make this happen.

Still more goodies from the trip

Author: Debra  //  Category: Marketing

More things to remember:

  • Meeting and talking to Kristen Christian about Bank Transfer Day. What an amazingly and charming young woman.
  • Breakfast at Google. Best part was one of their managers saying “wait…you do both the design AND the coding? Do you realize how RARE you are!!”

Our organization still stands out as a leader for our on-line experience. We are doing more than 95% of the credit unions represented at the colloquium and are equal to the other 5%. We impressed the Google and Facebook reps.

I met some fabulous people, medic including the amazing young woman behind the Bank Transfer Day, who spoke to us on Tuesday about how it happened and what’s next. She literally moved me to tears with her passion and intelligence,  I got to talk to her one-on-one afterwards. She’s positioned to be a spokesperson for GenY and I learned a lot from our short conversation.

There was a recurring theme in all the talks. That theme was “Now is Our Time” Bank Transfer Day was ‘the beginning’ of getting the public to know who credit unions are. Now is our time to ride the wave that has been created.

I wanted to take some time to write out all the major points of what I got from the colloquium, both to share with you, and to ingrain in my mind what got me so inspired.

Highlights:

  • We need to tell our “really compelling” stories.
  • Advertising that people “TRUST”
    • 90% trust Recommendations (we need to get these through our on line resources)
    • 75% trust Branded websites (we’ve got this)
    • 65% trust Email that they signed up for
  • “Consumption is often collective” The point here is that marketing to a ‘person’ is not as effective as marketing to the family or social unit our members are a part of. My take-away here is that we need to tailor our 2012 marketing to families  to really bring home the relationship concept.
  • Families are now being described as diconnected by distance, but more strongly connected through social media and the internet. Families are playing games via Xbox and similar things even when they aren’t in the same state, or country. Skype and FaceTime are bringing families closer.
  • As CU’s, we are being implored to “tell us your story”
  • People like to be rewarded for playing along. We need to find a way to create virtual badges when our members join us for different things on line.
  • The amount of personal interaction content is doubling each year. The internet is the new way people are connecting with family, friends and community, and it’s only getting better/easier/stronger.
  • We need to maximize our impact by
    • Developing emotionally rewarding concepts/marketing
    • Understand what it is our members actually believe about us
    • Make our messages highly unique to drive word of mouth
  • We need to get ourselves out of safe and rational messages and do something more edgy. This does -not– mean objectionable images or topics, but unusual or unexpected. Things that will stick in our members minds.
    • The Sunnydale Credit Union did a “Sunnydale is Love” campaign with shiny happy people. It flopped. When they did a big % off Loans promo, people flocked. Folks are innundated with shiny happy people ads. They are no longer making an impact.
  • It takes a lot of time and money to change someone’s mind.
  • Gen Y believes in local living. They value optimism and a ‘can do’ attitude. They want to be informed about how Credit Unions are a part of that. They also require of us “hassle free deals”
  • We need strong visual ‘cues’ that show we are about collaboration and relationships. Not just words.
  • Creative people become more creative when their work areas are covered with visual stimuli. Target the outcome.
  • We need to bring our brand persona to life.
  • We were told repeatedly that our story is unique, but our brand isn’t. This is for credit unions as a whole.
  • We need to know who our best cross-sellers are and learn all we can from them, and then share that information.
  • “Sneaking in fees” “learning about fees after the fact” and “punishing those that can afford it least with fees” are the main reasons why Bank Transfer Day worked.

Credit Union Digital Branding Colloquium

Digitalbranding_logo_image

Thank you for attending the Credit Union Digital Branding Colloquium hosted by the Filene Research Institute. Due to your generous ongoing support of Filene, you were invited to this colloquium to learn and strategize around your own digital brand and how credit unions are affected by online communities, and digital discussions.

Below are the presentations from the event:

Author: Debra  //  Category: Marketing

I love the work that I do. I am not ashamed to admit it. I am a marketer, hospital and I work in the financial sector. And I am not a villain.

In this time of the #Occupy Movement, about it it seems that people want to vilify everything that deals with both of those things.

Only, what I do is nothing to be ashamed of, and it makes me very frustrated when people make grand sweeping statements condemning marketers and/or bankers. The problems with corrupt practices that are out there are very specific and simply don’t apply to what I am involved with.

My eldest works as a graphic designer for a marketing firm. The company she works for only works for non-profit organizations. I love seeing the things she creates for women’s organizations, they Olympics, and animal protection collectives. I’m proud that her work helps fund some amazing efforts.

As a marketer, my job is to keep our name in front of the customers we serve and show them all of the products they can use to meet their financial goals and obligations.

We recently held a focus group where our customers told us that we aren’t doing a good enough job of telling them about all the things we offer. This came as such a surprise to me, because it feels to me like we are obnoxiously sharing information. But that’s not true. No matter how many places we put our message, some of our members will not get the information they want and need.

So it’s up to my team to learn how they want and need to hear our information. This is really a very cool thing…learning how people want to get their advertising.

We don’t try to sell customers a list of things we want them to have. We have a variety of products designed to help solve their financial needs and we need them to know we have these things.

Some people are hard to get through to because they work on misconceptions. Like something is too hard, to complicated, too time consuming, too unobtainable…and they aren’t, but in order to help them make the best decision, we need them to understand our products.

Something as simple as “your bank is charging you more on your credit card than we will. Transferring your credit card to a credit union will get you a better rate that you can pay off faster” seems so straight forward, but people feel it will be too hard to transfer, too time consuming, or that they have credit issues that would make us deny them. We would love to break those barriers down.

And that’s why I am constantly learning how to communicate with people in every medium. This is a very fulfilling part of work for me, getting to understand the minds of people.

So I make no excuses for what I do to make a living. I am proud to be doing what I am doing. And I get to earn a better than decent living doing it.

No excuses.

Digital Branding Colloquium

Author: Debra  //  Category: Marketing

I can’t even begin to explain how deeply I was inspired by the Colloquium. The best I can do is to share the big things that happened. There were three specific ideas that I am bringing back as projects that I feel incredibly, information pills deeply passionate about.

  • We -must– do a superior job at sharing our stories. Only 11% of the Filene associated credit unions are sharing their stories to the membership. We are being encourged to not let this opportunity fly past us.  We have a leading edge format (our blogs and social media presense), but we are not populating it with info. I still don’t know what the branches are doing in their communities. It frustrates me that we are doing so much, but not talking about it. No one is writing for the community blog, or sending me regular info both pre and post events so that I can get the word out. Our blog and facebook and linked in and twitter should be full of these stories.  We need to invite our members to these events on a grander scale, not only just telling them about what we did.
    • I need guidance on how to make this happen. I can only report on what I know. But I will do whatever it is going to take to see that we stand out in our communities for all that we do.
  • Frank mentioned at our budget meeting that he would like me trained to write apps. At the time, I had no impetus other than ‘oh cool talent to have.’ I had a moment of inspiration where I came up with a fantastic app that I don’t see available. I would like to develop and write an app for mobile devices that enables a person to see what kind of events are going on that they could volunteer at. It would be searchable by organization or date. Imagine grabbing your phone and looking up what’s going on locally on a particular weekend. We could start this out by just doing ELGA events, then branching out to Genesee County events…and from there, get people to use our model for building this for their communities. I still have a lot to learn, but this is something I want to work on.
    • I can learn this skillset on Lynda.com. This would be a side project.
    • I would love to work with Cheryl and the Business Development Team on this as a project. We need to brainstorm how to make this happen.

My CEO sent me an invitation to a rather remarkable event:

How should credit unions think about their digital presence as marketing moves to an electronic format? What kinds of communities should credit unions build around their brands? What tools are most effective?

On November 15, clinic
2011, join the Filene Research Institute in San Francisco, along with speakers from Google, the University of Arizona, Facebook, and others at this invitation-only, limited-seat event. We will delve into the tools and strategies needed for credit unions to reach, strengthen, and sell to their desired communities in the new digital marketing environment.

I rushed right out and signed up for this event in San Francisco and I am jittery with excitement for what I can learn!

Keeping it in our Communities!

Author: Debra  //  Category: Marketing

About 2 years ago I went to a Diebold seminar on using ATMs for marketing. I learned that we had the ability to create coupons for our members. I presented this info to our Business Development Manager and she gave me a local racetrack to test this with. This was the first year’s results:

The program was started at 12:01 on August 1, website 2010. At 6:45 am, page August 5, we recorded 2,214 Transactions across 7 of our ATMs (except Clio & Consumers)

The coupons were printed (on request) 300 times.   That’s a 13.5% response.

On Monday, the owner stopped by to say that they got 12 coupons for Sunday’s event, which was 21% of those printed (57 by 7 pm). This was after the program was in place for approximately 19 hours.

Our results for the second year showed a 12.9% response rate.

We have found that the members respond to specific coupons with an offer that has immediate value. This is why the Buy One/Get One just described worked but the “get additional discount on your loan rate” did not.

I have always felt that the best venue for offering something amazing to our members is tap into our Member2Member businesses for additional special discounts.

We could create packages that M2M businesses can purchase, and generate additional income from the program.

  • A business would have to offer a value that they aren’t offering elsewhere, or isn’t easily gotten in another manner. This would be crucial for this to really have value for our members.
  • Length of Program
    • Option A: 2 Weeks
    • Option B: 4 Weeks
  • We have 14 ATMS.
    • Option 1: All ATMS
    • Option 2: A single branch
  • Program Limitations
    • Print coupon once per card, or unlimited.
    • Print only for ELGA members (this is not currently set up but can be), or for anyone using the ATM.
    • Only one coupon can run at a time.
    • First come, first serve for dates.
  • They need to report back how many coupons get used to help us verify program success
  • I would manage the scheduling

One of the hottest things out there right now is keeping money in local communities and we could be on the leading edge by instituting a monthly program for coupons from our Member 2 Member businesses.

 

Are we really listening?

Author: Debra  //  Category: Communicating, Marketing

We submitted one piece of marketing material for awards from last year.  I would have liked to see more, advice but I’m waiting until next year to submit our web site (which I think is very innovative and fresh) as well as the In Your Words program.   I am already bracing for a brisk discussion on whether our web page or just the Gen Y Blog will get submitted.  But that debate is for another day.

I found a blog for The Nexus Connection from CUES who do the Golden Mirror Awards.  This was one of the two organizations where we submitted our product brochure for judging.   The blog is written by one of the judges and he listed a lot of items that I think we really need to pay attention to; both for improving our efficacy, this and for creating award winning materials.

Sadly, abortion I found several areas where we were not the shining examples of innovation.

The hottest items on the docket dealt with the Green initiative.  These quotes came out of their observations:

“Small to mid-sized credit unions (assets under $700 million) are consistently doing better creative work than bigger shops.”
– Brent Dixon is the Founder and Principal of The Haberdashery

“The bigger you get the safer you get. Too many cooks have to put their seal of approval on everything which ultimately
waters it down”
– Tim McAlpine, Creative Director, Currency Marketing
“Who knows your business best? Your or an outsider? Others can give you a view from a broader perspective and give you a
shot of reality when you are delusional, but the lens you view your business from is a key component. Sometimes outsiders
discount that component and you end up with the cold porridge look.”
– Gene Blishen, General Manager, Mt. Lehman Credit Union

Brent went on to talk about an observation he made that I wish I could utilize for our efforts:

There was some really impressive brand design work and brand standards books. Again, a lot of this was by mid-sized CUs.
And two of my absolute favorites were done entirely in-house.

We really should encourage our in-house talent.  As Gene said, who knows our business better?

Another blog written by a Golden Mirror Awards judge, Denise Wymore, has a ton of excellent advice.  The first was about how we determine ROI and how sloppy many of the submissions were this year.

CUES gave us a guideline (or definition) of the point values. How ROI was calculated on the entries was all over the board. I like to call this marketing math – and I blame the CFO for making us do it. We are, after all, creative people, and man oh man did I see some creative math. I almost felt like some marketers were viciously complying with ROI.

I’ve always had a problem with the ROI marketing math. Unless you have a coupon or some way to really validate that your newspaper ad, direct mail piece, radio spot directly contributed to the increase in business, can we really say that effort is responsible for the increase? Or, is it because you convinced your CFO to give the best rate humanly possible on that IRA during peak IRA season?

This is not going to be a popular thing to say, but I think in these tough times we need to be more responsible with our members’ money.  We are, after all, a financial cooperative.

We need to submit pieces where we can actually get an excellent feel for the impact of the piece.  Are we really spending our member’s money wisely in the pieces we create for them?    Do we really know if the pieces are having an impact?  I can now create landing pages for our marketing pieces to help and try tracking that information.  We need to put more effort into making sure what we’re publishing is having the desired impact.  Have we become too reliant on what someone else tells us is “the right look, the right vehicle”?

Below are more of Denise’s observations of the submissions this year:

I was surprised at the number of entries that still used the “spray and pray” approach to marketing. With all the tools available to segment members, even with creative marketing math, I don’t see that this is a good idea these days. Some credit unions have confused their “territory” with their “target audience.”

Marketers love paper, don’t we? I think I rubbed off my fingerprints touching the gorgeous papers used in some of these pieces.

We don’t take advantage of this option at all.  When I first started, it was stressed that we use the better paper for certain things.  Now that I don’t do any of the printing myself, no one seems to care.  Saving money has become the rallying cry.  As it should with many things, but when we really need to get attention, then we need to do things that make our members  stop, look, feel, and read our material.

Photography–I was pleasantly surprised to see a distinct decline in the “shiny happy people” usage. Nicely done.

That one hurt the most because we’ve been using Shiny Happy People motif in nearly everything we’ve created for the last year.  We’re behind the times again and that frustrates me.  We need fresh ideas if we’re going to let our pieces compete with what everyone else is doing locally.  We aren’t producing innovative pieces.

The one category that gave me flashbacks to 1983, however, was the radio production. I know it’s fun to go into a recording studio and even more fun when you can hear your work as you drive to the office, BUT…..if your goal is to “young-it-up,” your radio ad is not going to do it. Period.

First–even though your media buyer will tell you that Z100 Morning Zoo is the spot to attract 18- to 24-year-olds, most of these folks are ignoring you with their iPods.

So what can we do, Denise? Well…….think business development. And not in the usual way of sign up a SEG, drop off brochures and pray. Think of it literally as creating buzz in the Gen Y world. I saw one entry that, in my opinion, did not have a category. It was a blog and it rocked. It had nothing to do with credit union products or services, and that confused many judges. It had everything to do with the counter culture that was growing in the credit union’s marketplace. You can’t measure ROI on it, you can’t control when people read it (with a media buy), direct mail won’t drive people to it and members contribute to it! WOW!

This could, should, and HAS to be us next year.   They are already considering adding social media to the award process next year.

It’s time we stop finding ourself lagging a year behind the innovators.

Cultivating the relationship…after Gen Y

Author: Debra  //  Category: General, Marketing

Resources have been allocated to throw at getting our Gen Y members more interested and involved.  This is a very good thing.

However, dosage I am curious about those that have been born in the 21st century.  I want to put together a place on our web that will make them want to come visit the site.  I am going to start looking for things to add to the web.  Our current ELGAsaurus page is as much of a dinasaur as it’s namesake and it’s not a section I’m particularly proud to show off.  I’m entertaining notions at this point.

I just recently found out about National Credit Union Youth Week with the 2009 slogan of  The Magic of Savings that runs April 19 – 25.  I would love to have some fun with this theme!  Getting a magician in the main branch for a day with some cool little give-aways and a nice piece on a savings account or CD would be so fun.

Also, ed just found out that instead of participating in Youth Week, gastritis we do something called Smart Money Week instead.  I just think that with our current push to focus on strengthening our relationships with our younger members that Youth Week should be an occasion we celebrate.

I will make sure to put something about it on the web if  I can’t get any further buy in to celebrate it in the branches.

Just because I see it doesn’t mean I can change it.

Author: Debra  //  Category: Communicating, Marketing, Technology

It’s frustrating to see walls that have been built between people and departments. I know how they get built. It takes time and strong personalities and a need to be ‘right’ or ‘best.’ When those things are strong in the mid to high levels of any company, vitamin it becomes increasing difficult to succeed at lower levels. Banging your head against those walls repeatedly gives you a headache, abortion and the walls feel nothing at all. The eventual outcome is that you stop even trying to make things better.

I’m not there yet. I have a remarkably strong head and the stamina of experience.

The wall I’m currently trying to chisel a pathway through is called Gen Y. Now, despite being told that I am not Gen Y (which is an ageist statement that infuriates me by implying that one can only communicate with Gen Y when one is a Gen Y) I have a very strong social sphere that is well populated with Gen Y. And amazingly, I can relate and understand their views and many of their needs and wants. Being that I am not typical for my generation, I find that a real benefit.

I also have my finger on the pulse of social networking as strongly, and often more technically deeper than, most of the Gen Y people I work with. My biggest frustration is that I cannot get management to recognize this and tap into it. I am not trying to take over anything. I just want to be a vital part of where we will be going with our efforts to tap into this market. I do not want to just be told what I am doing. I want to be a part of the decision making process.

If the people working on the Gen Y project were to write a description of the person they would most want as a resource, I qualify on so many levels…and yet, even though I have repeatedly asked to be on the task forces, no one is including me in on anything other than telling me what has already been decided and giving me tasks. I’m stumped. I don’t know what to do any more.

  • When I heard that the rock was established, I immediately went to the party responsible and asked to be included in the planning.
  • I have repeatedly told my management that I want to be included in these decisions.   I even had to insist that I not be -excluded- when told that I was too busy with other things.  This is important and I can and will adjust my schedule to fit it.
  • I’ve said often that I would make an excellent moderator (not the -only- moderator, but one of the team!) I keep several blogs and have a lot of experience in managing people.  I would be an asset, and yet whenever I say that, the response is tepid at best.  I keep being told that the blog project will be managed by Gen Y.
  • I am certain that not every person on successful Gen Y projects are actually in that generation.
  • I have asserted that the blog project needs to have Marketing involved even if the project isn’t one of our rocks.  I have met with strong resistance to have this happen.  There needs to be some tie into our current web page to be successful.  The blog IS a part of ELGA.  We need to coordinate how that happens and start some dialogue on a game plan.  Keeping me out of these talks would be a misuse of talent and makes no sense at all.

If it turns out that I am not an integral part of this project, it will come as a big blow to my morale.  My entire reason for what I do is to be valuable, not just a tool.