Over the past few days, I had the pleasure of attending the Credit Union National Association Government Affairs Conference in Washington, DC. With over 4,200 attendees, the GAC is the largest credit union conference in the world with the largest exhibitor hall of any financial services conference in the world.Read More
I steered Currency away from credit union naming and branding about four years ago, moving instead into offering our managed marketing programs. This move allowed us to get out of our own geography and to have a deeper impact.Read More
What do you get when you combine the talents of eight young credit union advocates from all over North America? An original rap, a wild Lady Gaga tribute and an epic Journey classic all created to promote all that’s good and right about credit unions.Read More
Have you heard of The Disclosures? The Disclosures are an acoustic "thrift-rock" duo from credit union land (that's Wisconsin!) comprised of Chad Helminak and one of my fellow CU Water Cooler editors Christopher Morris.Read More
Every company has had an infuriated customer phone in and complain. I'm sure your credit union has had plenty. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas received this gem of a voicemail and rather than cowtow and apologize, they posted it to YouTube last week and have racked up more than a million views.Read More
In January, six of our Young & Free Spokesters gathered in Jackson, Mississippi for the first-annual Spokester Summit. Cheryl from our office facilitated the two-day workshop.Read More
I attended the 1 Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas last week. The venue struck me as an odd choice. I wondered what kind of first impression Vegas would give the visitors from 60 countries. This tweet from Shari Storm summed up my initial thoughts, "Listening to the regal women of Zimbabwe marvel at how little clothing the young women in Las Vegas wear." Was Las Vegas the best way to show off the western world?
Then it struck me: Vegas is the perfect example of the power of cooperation. Don't believe me? Let's run Vegas past the seven cooperative principles.
Principle #1: Inclusiveness
Everyone is welcome regardless of how much cash they are carrying. From the penny slots to $5,000 minimum bets, Vegas has something for everyone. It does not discriminate. Vegas will take money from anyone!
Principle #2: Voice
Vegas is a democratically run ecosystem, entirely controlled by consumers' wants and desires.
Principle #3: Benefit
Consumers directly participate in the financial success of Vegas by emptying their pockets on gambling, dining, entertainment and taxis. Surpluses are returned to consumers in the form of an occasional jackpot to make everyone believe it's possible to beat the odds!
Principle #4: Independence
As your plane descends, you are struck with how isolated (and illuminated) Las Vegas is.
Principle #5: Education
Financial literacy in Vegas? Heck yes. There are gambling hotline posters displayed in every casino. This service is free and available to all.
Principle #6: Cooperation
Cooperation among casinos is vital. If there was only one casino or one show in Vegas, it wouldn't work. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Principle #7: Community
Every visitor to Vegas shares a common bond and shares the famous motto, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!"
All joking aside, Vegas is a great example of people and organizations working together to make something much bigger than would be possible in isolation. All of the stakeholders in Vegas pool their money and market Vegas as a whole. There is real power in this co-op marketing model that credit unions could learn from.
I find myself pondering the question "What's next in financial services marketing?" a lot lately. There has been this two- to three-year rush to embrace social media and now everyone seems to be here! Great, now what?
I am not sure what's next, but I have observed that it is getting increasingly tough for financial institutions (and any company for that matter) to stand out amongst the increasingly crowded social media space. It is no longer the wild social media west, it's starting to feel like Manhattan in rush hour!
With new media evangelists (Denise Wymore, you know who you are) giving traditional media its last rights, and companies tweeting til the cows come home and clamoring for Facebook fandom, it's bringing to light the absolute need for high-quality break-out content in both written and video form. Enter branded content—a modern spin on the age-old, serialized soap opera. From Wikipedia:
Advertainment is a relatively new form of advertising medium that blurs conventional distinctions between what constitutes advertising and what constitutes entertainment. Branded content is essentially a fusion of the two into one product intended to be distributed as entertainment content, albeit with a highly branded quality. Advertainment, unlike conventional forms of entertainment content, is generally funded entirely by a brand or corporation rather than, for example, a Movie studio or a group of producers. However, it can be argued that this is just a new name for the same type of marketing that was pioneered by soap manufacturers in the early days of radio and television with the soap opera.
With 24 hours of video content being uploaded to YouTube every minute, there is something to be said for producing entertaining content that rises above a guy trying to set a record for the most kicks to the crotch (click at your own risk) and dogs riding skateboards. Producing quality content that people want to watch and spread to others is becoming increasingly important to get noticed.
In our own little way, this is what we have been attempting to do with our Living Young & Free Show.
Now ponder this new example of financial services marketing: In Gayle We Trust brought to you by American Family Insurance and produced by NBC Universal Digital Studios. Here is a press release for more info.
From the about page:
Nestled somewhere in the middle of America, Maple Grove is populated with a host of colorful characters, and they all turn to one person for insurance needs, counseling and much much more. Though an insurance agent by trade, Gayle Evans has become the default cure-all for the small town, as her pleasant disposition and sound advice has made her a go-to resource in the lives of her clients. From a newlywed couple seeking weekly marital advice, to a over-confident plumber trying to protect his coveted identity, to a traveling hypnotist needing liability coverage, Gayle's clientele range from sympathetic to pathetic to outright bizarre. In Gayle We Trust, a 10-part comedy series from NBCU Digital Studio is written and directed by multiple Emmy-winner Brent Forrester (The Office, The Simpsons, King of the Hill).
It immersive, it's entertaining, it must cost millions. What can we learn from this? Is branded content the equivalent of Web 3.0? Is it the next big thing?
The discussion of a national brand campaign for the US credit union industry was rekindled yet again. First on Mary Arnold's blog post on the CUES Skybox, then on Ron Shevlin's Marketing Tea Party blog and the conversation continues on Morriss' Partee blog posts about a whether a third-party vendor should be given free reign to fill the bill.
Then I learned about this edgy new national brand campaign from the pistachio industry. There must be a full moon.
This is from an article from Megan Angelo on the Wallet Pop blog.
"The pistachio industry wants to get nut lovers' minds off salmonella and onto sex. Pistachios took a big publicity hit last year when 2 million pounds of the greenish nut had to be recalled due to salmonella contamination.
Now, as USA Today reports, the industry is striking back with a grabby campaign that casts the pistachio alongside winking innuendos ("Mobsters do it with muscle") and C-list celebrities like Adrienne Curry, Chris Knight and the curiously ubiquitous Levi Johnston. (One slightly creepy short stars the five-year-old Denny quintuplets hopping around on bouncy balls as the voice over proclaims that "Quintuplets do it with balance."
Here is the microsite:
The Get Crackin' campaign is extensive and extremely well funded—apparently to the tune of $15 million. It has a user-generated video contest and multiple provoking TV spots. For example:
Jeffry Pilcher has this to say on Ron's blog about a national credit union brand campaign:
"One thing is for certain, and that is the credit union industry has a huge problem. Research has proven over and over that people don’t know what credit unions are, therefore people don’t consider credit unions as viable financial alternatives. A solution should be found for this problem, whatever name you want to give it. It seems as if a lot of people summarily dismiss the problem because they don’t like the proposed solution (brand campaign)."
Morriss Partee offered this counterpoint:
"I think a common misconception that many credit union professionals and board members hold is that the “Got Milk” campaign was successful. Yes, there was a lot of awareness for the CAMPAIGN; celebrities lined up to be in it…. but the deep dark secret is that it didn’t actually increase SALES of MILK. In fact, it worked brilliantly to commoditize milk, driving many smaller dairy farmers to either go out of business or figure out a way to differentiate themselves DESPITE THE NATIONAL BRANDING CAMPAIGN. Anyone want an additional battle to fight right now? No? No takers?"
CUNA ran an under-the-radar contest last year to see what the crowd could come up with. Speaking of Jeffry Pilcher, his entry won.
It's a good ad and I'm sure there are plenty more out there that would help promote the credit union difference.
Begs the question: If a nut that nobody thinks about can pull an industry together, shouldn't credit unions? I'm just a credit union fan from Canada. What the heck do I know?
September is 30 things I would implement or consider implementing at my credit union if I was a credit union leader.
Thing 16: Be positive and shy away from bank bashing in our branding and marketing
I like positivity versus negativity in life and in branding and marketing. That's why some credit union campaigns that focus solely on bank bashing rub me the wrong way. Jeffry Pilcher recently wrote a good opinion piece entitled, The ugly downside of bank bashing about this practice and I wholeheartedly agree with his take on the subject. The key questions that Jeffry asks are worth careful consideration:
- How can financial institutions rebuild consumer trust when so many of the industry’s own marketing messages say bankers are untrustworthy scum?
- Do consumers really see a difference between banks and credit unions?
- At what point can the financial industry no longer withstand the mockery, self-loathing and shame it heaps on itself?
Matt Davis, the Credit Union Warrior, recently wrote a great post entitled Bringing back optimism. Matt concludes with this, "Swallow your pride. Spend some money. Take some chances on your members. Be optimistic that in doing this, you are being exactly what you promised your members you would be: a financial institution that they can count on, no matter what."
At my fictitious credit union, I would portray a positive and optimistic image and stay away from heavy-handed bank bashing. I would concentrate on the differentiated traits that make our credit union special rather than constantly pointing out what's wrong with banking.
Unless you can toe the line with an entertainment and educational poke at the differences between the banks and credit unions, bank bashing can leave your potential members depressed versus inspired.
Caveat: if you choose to bash banks, do it exceptionally well
After exploring the microsite and watching all of the videos, I had an ear-to-ear smile. It's humorous, exceptionally well executed, the video-script writing is brilliant and the casting of the actors is top-notch. It combines terrific product offers, fun quizzes plus a smart Twitter tie-in. It is bank bashing done right. It works because it is highly entertaining.