Hey credit union marketer: Do you want the diet pill or are you willing to pump iron?

I am always tempted by the get-skinny, get-buff-with-little-effort promises offered up by the infomercial-obsessed, buh-zillion-dollar diet and exercise industry. I want to believe the hype, but that logical subconscious voice deep in my head always tells me that if I really want to get fit, I need to eat healthier and exercise regularly. Now my business-owner, two-kids-under-five, I-love-chocolate reality seems to keep me from doing the hard work, but that's another story.

The lure of the marketing diet pill

Taking diet pills is obviously easier than dragging yourself to the gym everyday for another grueling workout. We wish it were this simple, but we know that hard work yields better results. The same can be said about marketing. With time and budget constraints, it is so tempting to take the easy route. For example:

  • Being the same is easier than being different
  • Being comfortable is easier than taking risks
  • Repeating what you did last year is easier than rethinking everything
  • Being nice is easier than being edgy
  • Following trends is easier than setting trends
  • Copying is easier than creating
  • Talking in a monologue is easier than engaging in a dialogue
  • Blanketing everyone is easier than targeting multiple niches
  • Relying on best practices is easier than experimenting on your own

This type of diet-pill thinking rears its head in all kinds of ways in our marketing, including:

  • Using stock photography rather than shooting custom photography
  • Relying on generic demographic information rather than getting to know your members and potential members
  • Printing in black and white rather than full colour
  • Sending a mass mailing rather than than writing personalized letters
  • Sending generic direct mailers rather than than sending variable-printed direct mailers
  • Not having a website rather than having a website
  • Doing nothing with a static website rather than maintaining a blog
  • Updating your blog once a month rather than creating fresh daily content
  • Writing text rather than producing video
  • Sending generic newsletters and magazines to your members rather than creating your own localized content
  • Having an automated phone attendant rather than having a real person answer the phone
  • Offering standard products and services rather than creating your own unique offerings
  • Leaning on the global credit union brand rather than defining and living your own differentiated brand

Easier is cheaper, but easier is not better

Are you breaking a sweat with your credit union's branding and marketing work? You should be. Are you questioning the status quo? You should be. Are you being creative and innovative when time and budget allow? You should be.

Depending on your situation, it's not likely that everything you produce can be 100% unique to your credit union, but you need to find the right mix for your credit union's budget and your marketing department's capacity and capabilities. I challenge you to find the balance between generic and easy and differentiated and hard.

I would love to hear what other diet-pill marketing lures you struggle with.

Tim

P.S. Son, can you pass me the remote please?