Thursday, August 25, 2011

Project Blueprints Work

By Margie Church, copywriter/editor

One of our best practices is to gain understanding and agreement from the client before the project begins. A project blueprint is a simple tool we consistently use to achieve that. 

After a project launch call, everything we've heard in that conversation gets sorted out and written into the blueprint template. Then it's sent to the client. I've sometimes been accused of being too thorough. I've had managers squint at my project blueprints and ask for the Reader's Digest version. And I've had some tell me I was making the reports they wrote look bad. The latter group always makes me laugh.

Gotta-have-it Information
Your blueprint doesn't have to be complicated, but it must have the salient points to get your project on track and keep it there. Here's a short list of basics:
  •  Objective
  • Audience
  • Budget
  • Offer and/or primary message
  • Customer benefit
  • Call to action. I can't stress enough the importance of telling people what to do. It's often forgotten, along with adequate contact information. 
  •  Due date
Pinpoint is a creative resource, so we also ask our credit union clients questions such as these:
  • What is the overall tone of the piece? A phrase such as cutting-edge will have an explanation of what the client describes as cutting-edge.
  •  What are the supporting copy points?
  • There will be several questions about design, including color and graphical preferences.
We add and subtract questions depending on the situation. The first time we speak with a new client, we'll spend all the time necessary learning about their credit union. We want to understand its membership demographics, and branding strategies. 

We seek the client's opinions on all kinds of subjects, including what's going to work and what  will get panned by management. We're interested in helping them be successful every time and in-depth questions help us achieve that goal. By the end of the conversation, our client knows their business is important to us.

If you're an internal marketing or communications manager, you can use a project blueprint to get agreement from your staff before you start working with your creative resources, aka spend money. You're much likelier to deliver on time and on budget by using a document such as this. It's also an excellent place to look for answers if things go awry. 

Creative blueprints work smoothly for Pinpoint Direct Marketing's clients. Do you use creative blueprints at your CU? How have they been received? Are they a crucial element in your planning or an after-thought? Share your experiences so we can learn from each other.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Leads Left for Dead?

by Margie Church, copywriter/editor

Does your member services department have what it needs to handle responses from your marketing activities? Best practices will have these issues identified during the campaign's project planning stages, and puts the response team in a proactive mode.

Start on a Positive Note

Make someone from member services part of your marketing team. Once the campaign is fleshed out, take them through the components so they're aware of everything involved. Provide copies of printed communications and links to electronic items for them to see before the campaign launches.

Don't rely on member services to read everything and determine what the action items are. Provide the salient points, including the campaign's goals and offers, launch and end dates, and any potential sticky points that may disqualify someone from taking advantage of the offer.  If you need to, write a script. 

Provide a specific guideline on how quickly respondents will be contacted so the lead doesn't go cold. Plus doing so cultivates the relationship you have or hope to build with any member. Armed with the right information, your member services department is prepared to handle questions correctly and close the deal.

Whether your credit union's tellers are the member services department or you have a dedicated team established for handling responses and inquiries, set them up for success. Your staff will be happier and it will be easier to determine your campaign's success.

At Pinpoint, we use a tool called Staff Notes to identify and address member services responses. At the project launch call, we'll talk about them and put your responses in writing. You'll also receive a creative blueprint of the project to use as a guide. This helps ensure we'll all be on the same page from concept through fulfillment. Does your agency do these things? 

Maybe it's time for a better process. Give Pinpoint a call.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Targeting Gen Y?

By Margie Church, copywriter/editor

I read recently that Gen Y is set to inherit $30 trillion dollars in the next two decades. Baby Boomers have done very well, indeed.  I also continue reading about credit unions looking for ways to reach out to Gen Y members. 

The tricky question is, how?

A credit union must understand the behaviors of its Gen Y population and cater to them. Also known as the Millennial Generation or Millennials, they have birthdates from roughly the mid-1970s to 2000. Read about their social and professional behaviors on the Internet and research them in your service area. 

As a whole, they are a tech-dependent group that scours websites like bloodhounds on a scent trail. Creating web pages that appeal to their special interests and tastes is a good place to start. Mobile banking, Internet banking, email, QR Codes, Tag, podcasts, specially created videos, etc., are tools this group isn't afraid of. They talk to each other about finances. Could holding Gen Y chats on your website be a good idea? Having a blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages? Possibly, if you give them relevant reasons to interact with you. An app could be a very good thing since mobile banking use is skyrocketing. Use age-appealing graphics, copy, and offers. (If you're not doing this across the board, you need to start. Doing so makes you more personal and relevant with any member or prospect.)

While you're looking for ways to appeal to the Gen Y lifestyle, remember some of this is an investment in their future, but possibly not yours.

What, you say?

When you think of Gen Y, are you really imagining the older end of the spectrum (around 35 years-old) or are you thinking early 20s? Breaking things down in this manner might help you realize you're already marketing to portions of Gen Y.

The younger portion of this age group is likely years away from being a profitable member. They're in school or moving around, not settled in their careers or their lives. Do these people need financial services and education? Yes. Can your CU be a great source for those things? Again, yes. However, it's no surprise the majority of these people aren't in a financial position to qualify for credit cards and other loan products. Their lack of roots in your service area has obvious implications. You can retain some of these members over time. Others will move out of your service area. Ultimately, the greatest service you might provide is the knowledge that wherever they land, a credit union is the best place to bank.

The mid to upper end of this age group is likely to be settling down. Their income is stable enough to be better loan risks and they're buying cars and homes. In other words, they are moving into the most profitable years of membership. Your credit union needs to make them aware of the benefits of membership. That's not new news. 

The market is ripe for a change in banking attitudes. Credit unions' lower interest rates and fees, coupled with outstanding services, make them an excellent choice over banks in many cases. Creating awareness among the younger portion of this group puts you in contention for their business when the opportunity arises. 

Roll with the marketing challenges and opportunities to help you bring the next group of members to your credit union. Pinpoint Direct Marketing can help you do it successfully. Put us on your creative team and get started.

We're interested to learn whether you're marketing differently to Gen Y and how. What have you learned?