The worst word in marketing is…

By: Amanda Thomas McMeans

Imagine you are in a new relationship.  It’s been a great few weeks.  You’ve spent many evenings talking until the wee hours learning about each others’ families, friends, careers, childhood, and dreams for the future.  Then comes the first time you celebrate your birthday with this special someone and you get…a grocery store gift card.

Don’t get me wrong – grocery store gift cards are awesome.  Free groceries – yeah!  Grocery gift cards are something most everyone would find useful because we all eat and need things like toiletries and cleaning products.  However, in a more intimate relationship, a grocery store gift card might cause your significant other to think that you don’t know them or don’t care enough to think about something that would be special to them specifically.

Marketing is another word for relationship communication.  And relationships mean an active effort by both parties to get to know the other – things they love, things they want, things that are important to them.  While having a solid and enticing offer is vital for marketing to be successful, knowing your audience is the other essential part of the process.

You wouldn’t buy the exact same birthday gift for all of your friends, so why do so many credit unions try to attract everyone at the same time?  If your credit union is not having success with its marketing, get your team together and ask this important question: whom should this credit union serve?

“Everyone” is an answer that will set your marketing up to fail.

“Our job is to connect to people, to interact with them in a way that leaves them better than we found them, more able to get where they’d like to go.”  – Seth Godin

Connecting with everyone is impossible because everyone has different needs and things that are important to them.  Based on what your credit union offers, your job is to determine whom it would help the most and how you can best connect with them.  Here are some steps to help you to determine the best target market(s) for your credit union.

Look at your employees.  Who are they?  What are they like?  You want to make sure that the target market(s) you choose see similar people when they come into the branches so they feel welcome and not out of place.

Look at your branches.  What does your office location(s) look like?  What kind of atmosphere does the credit union have when you walk in?

Look at your product lineup.  Which type of person(s) would find this most attractive as a banking option?  Who needs those products the most?

Look at your members.  Who are your best members?  What are their lives like?  Looking for commonalities among your best members are a great way to help determine whom your target audience(s) should be.  It is also likely that the credit union would be attractive to other people like those members.

Look at your community.  Who are the underbanked/underserved in your area?  It doesn’t necessarily mean the people with the lowest income or specific demographic groups.  Look for groups that may be being overlooked by other financial institutions in the area.

When someone chooses to bank with your credit union, they are choosing you.  The same goes for your marketing – you are choosing the people you are best suited to serve so you can have a great relationship with them for what is hopefully a very long time.  Just as you tell everyone you know about a new great person in your life, knowing your members and serving them well will ultimately result in them telling everyone they know about their awesome credit union.

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