Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Social Media's Messing with Business Attitudes

By John Blom and Margie Church

It's well-known that one of the planks of social media is authenticity.  To be effective, social media interactions require us to reveal the person or the people behind the brick and mortar. While we're minding our social Ps and Qs on the Internet, ask yourself whether the same good manners you're using on social media started in the office first. From the vendors you use, to every single person who comes in or calls, do you offer the same high level of courtesy and service you do on social media?

Before you get all flustered and think poorly of me for even asking, think of this: if you have no witnesses, do you act the same as if you had a room full? 

Social media interactions can be seen and read by thousands of people at the click of a button. But if someone walks in your office, perhaps no one will overhear the conversation. Before the advent of social communications tools, a member had fewer ways to share their experiences – good and bad—with the world. But today, the information highway is never closed. Fearing that reality doesn't change it either. If you shut down access to social media at work, that doesn't mean employees and customers won't discuss their experiences afterhours. The underlying message is your electronic and your human personas need to mesh.

What to do?
Support for social media in a commercial application has to come from the top down. I suggest it has to come from the inside out, as well. Drive that authenticity through your entire organization. Make every interaction with your credit union hit a high standard of sincerity and excellence. Reward employees for their good attitude and effort toward making your credit union live up to the credit union motto: "Not for profit, not for charity, but for service."

What have been your successes and struggles with social media? We all learn when we share.

Pinpoint Direct Marketing creates data-driven, electronic and print marketing campaigns for the financial industry. Its customized campaigns achieve excellent results without premium costs. Learn more about Pinpoint Direct Marketing at or call Kerry Blom, owner, 866-784-7555.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fabulous FABs: Features, Advantages, Benefits

By John Blom and Margie Church

Every product or service has these three components. Sometimes we have trouble figuring out the differences among them. When you identify the FABs of your product or service, you'll know how to best position it in the market so it stands out, not blends in with the competition.

Occasionally, we see only the feature stated in an ad. Consumers are have to figure out the advantages and benefits themselves. Will they guess the answers you wanted them to? Want to bet those products sell poorly? Like leaving off a strong call to action, not stating the clear advantages or benefits of whatever you're selling is like giving someone a flashlight without batteries. It totally defeats the purpose of advertising. 

Show me how!

I'm a fan of the blank sheet of paper. Start with the product name and brainstorm the answers. Bring member services in for the activity. They have front-line information you can use. Your answers are likely to be different, from mine because of your individual situation. That's terrific. Don't censor yourself. You can erase later.

Product: Credit Union Credit Card
(Unique Value)
(How Product/Service Makes Life Better/Positive)
(Quantifiable Results)
9% APR
Cheaper than many bank and store credit cards.

Save money in interest payments and fees.

More financially responsible, smart.
Pay off debt faster.

Feel better when using the card.

Fixed rate

Cost of credit more predictable than variable rate.
Debt-free faster. Saves money.

Easier to manage budget. Payment is more predictable than variable-rate cards.
Less stress.

Easier to determine cost of credit if balance is carried.
Better budget management.

Not an introductory rate, no unhappy surprises
Save money, predictable payment, easier to budget, pay off debt faster.
No fee for purchases, cash, transfers
No financial penalties.
Save money.

Don't have to remember rates or carry multiple cards.
Convenience, less stress.

More financially responsible, smart.


Feel-good prizes and incentives given to use the card. Competitor's cards don't.
Enjoyment, fun.

Status/prestige elevated to carry this card compared to other cards.
Consumer loyalty acknowledged.
Automatic payments
One less check to write/payment to manage.

Protects credit rating when payment is never late.

Easy to manage account.
Local Credit Decision
Personal decision based on an individual, not a number or corporate sales goal.
A less-than-ideal credit score could still qualify for a great, money-saving card.

I see some buzz words on the chart – SAVE, CONVENIENCE, EASY, SMART. One or two of them could be used in an attention-grabbing headline. You might illustrate one or two of the strongest advantages in your copy – perhaps in a rate comparison or payment example. End with the most important benefits. You don't need to use all these FABs in your advertising. Doing so would be cumbersome and clutter your ad.

Hidden Benefits

Leverage your concept and content in as many ways possible to save money, reinforce  message, and increase frequency. I call this giving a concept "legs."  Hand a chart like this to tellers and member services as a cross-selling aid. When staff members understand exactly what to say, the process is easier and more comfortable.

Take the time to identify your FABs and you'll be seeing FABulous results soon, too.

Do you take the time to identify FABs? How do you use it to support member services?  What's worked? Share! We learn from each other.

Pinpoint Direct Marketing creates data-driven, electronic and print marketing campaigns for the financial industry. Its customized campaigns achieve excellent results without premium costs. Learn more about Pinpoint Direct Marketing at or call Kerry Blom, owner, 866-784-7555.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Did you miss these?

By John Blom and Margie Church

We spend most of our time at our "home" blogging about credit union marketing techniques and philosophies. As always, our goal is to help you become better and more successful at your job. Recently, our peers have published some of our work. If you haven't read these articles, please do. You're bound to gain some new insights.

At The Financial Brand:
Harnessing the Power of Email: 3 Strategies for Financial Marketers
Learn ways to build success and confidence using email marketing.

Targeting Gen Y: Rich Opportunities with Direct Marketing
This diverse audience has lots of needs and issues. Learn how to engage the group with age-appropriate messages that aren't expensive or complicated to create.

At CUinsight:
Stop the Slow Leak in Your Credit Union's Auto Loan Portfolio
Building a solid loan retention program today can help you from losing millions in future auto loans.

We'd like to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment, and if you like what you see, please subscribe to our blog.

Pinpoint Direct Marketing creates data-driven, electronic and print marketing campaigns for the financial industry. Its customized campaigns achieve excellent results without premium costs. Learn more about Pinpoint Direct Marketing at or call Kerry Blom, owner, 866-784-7555.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wires crossed on cross-channel marketing?

By John Blom and Margie Church

Lately, we and other marketing firms have been making a lot of noise about two very traditional marketing methods: direct mail and email. Time and again, it seems credit unions have misconceptions about how these different channels (print and electronic) work together. Some have the notion direct mail is too expensive or email is just plain worthless. After all, what good is the campaign if it ends up in the spam folder or Tuesday's trash bin? If you're still holding onto those fears, it's past time to learn more about how to use this combination effectively.
You might be wondering whether we have a vested interested in one over the other. The simple answer is no. Can we create an effective direct mail or email campaign? Absolutely. But we are stronger advocates of cross-channel marketing. Doing so doesn't have to add significant cost, but it can significantly increase ROI.
"I Need Advice."
When you look at your budget compared to your objectives, you might think you need to put all your eggs in one basket and do a bang-up job. You'd be right about the bang-up part. You might also be thinking you should create this fabulous, one-time campaign and lob it into the market. You'd have some success. Hail Mary marketing has a role, but it's a flash in the pan. You need frequency to make your brand memorable in the marketplace.
You've bumped into a brick wall. Before frustration takes over and you do the same thing you've always done or worse yet, do nothing, step back and ask yourself what really needs to be accomplished. Write that down. Now think about all the ways you could communicate that information to the market. Don't censor your ideas. That's the fun of brainstorming.
I bet when you look at the finished list, you'll see some crazy ideas and you'll also have listed things like send a letter, offer a free workshop, put a sign in the branches, etc. Those are perfect examples of cross-channel marketing. You already understand that doing a combination of these things puts your credit union's name and offer in front of members and non-members.
"Yeah, but doing all that stuff is really expensive, and I'm just one person here."
Simplify. Think about the times you've seen a car ad, for example, on television, heard it on the radio, and maybe saw it in the Saturday newspaper. They used the same graphics and message, just re-purposed for the different channel. And you remembered that, didn't you?
Here's how you can do it, too. Choose a strong headline and graphic. Start with direct mail. Use data systems or MCIF to identify the members and prospects most likely to qualify and/or respond to your offer. Compared to a mass mailing (prospecting only), the number of addresses could drop significantly by doing this. That's okay, because this group of people is most likely to say yes, and that increases your ROI.
Next, grab qualified member email addresses and send with the same offer the following week. Use the same attention-getting headline and offer. Use a PURL to make responding a no-brainer. (Do you realize that emails and PURLS can cost as little as $0.05 per address?)
Then, leverage this program further by turning your headline and graphic into a web banner. Create a statement insert and in-branch signage for prospecting to members and non-members. Tweet about the promotion, put it in the newsletter, and post it on your Facebook page. If you blog, figure out a clever way to turn the offer into a relevant blog subject. None of these activities has to be expensive, but each time they're seen, they make an impact.
Frequency and reach matter!

A combination of scheduling and the media you use, plays on the channel strengths, impacts your audience more effectively, and brings the highest response. You might achieve awareness of your message in five to seven exposures. People might take action after 11 exposures. Can you see now why a one-time blast into the market will have limited results? And the more time that lags between your marketing efforts, the harder it'll be for people to stop saying, "Who?" and start saying, "I'm going to the credit union to check this out."

By using a cost-efficient service-provider, and keeping a level head about where to sink your cash, you might be able to rerun the campaign a couple of times. You keep reaching out and making an impression on that member wherever they are. In the case of prospecting, even if the recipient isn't ready to bite on the current offer, you've made an impression. Keep it up, and when the time is right, they'll be at your door. You'll also save time and be smiling when you report your results to the Board. Cool.

That's the scent of cross-channel marketing success.
Pinpoint Direct Marketing creates data-driven, electronic and print marketing campaigns for the financial industry. Its customized campaigns achieve excellent results without premium costs. Learn more about Pinpoint Direct Marketing at or call Kerry Blom, owner, 866-784-7555.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Command Performance: Direct Mail

By John Blom and Margie Church
Many credit union marketing budgets were slashed or suspended during America's Great Recession. Now, these CUs are fighting to get back in the market, while others are taking advantage of loan opportunities that have been hard to find in the past few years.  
We often hear that direct mail is too expensive and while it certainly can be, as a rule it doesn't have to. Ask yourself, is your credit union's marketing viewed strictly as an expense or is it an investment? In these lean times, take a realistic approach to what you need to accomplish and we'll bet that winning a design award isn't going to be part of your annual objectives. Furthermore, if you're sitting smack-dab in the middle of strong competition, an annual squeak from the cheap seats isn't going to make you the credit union hero either.
So, how can direct mail help solve your problems? Direct mail is the only tool that is going to give you complete access to members and non-members.  Don't believe me? Do you have every member's email address? Have the ability to get the email address of every person within a two-mile radius of every branch? Can a newspaper ad speak personally to every reader who doesn't have an auto loan at your credit union? No, no, and no.
Direct mail can do all of that and much more. As a stand-alone technique, it has the broadest reach. Use it to retain, acquire, and prospect for business within your membership and the communities you serve. Segmenting your data will refine the list to those most likely to respond. In the end, you might produce fewer pieces, but you'll have minimal waste and a higher return on investment.
Electronic gadgets are all the rage, so many credit unions have abandoned tried and true direct mail for trendier tools. We wholeheartedly agree electronic channels are important, lightning-fast ways to reach out, but they aren't effective for prospecting. Direct mail, however, leverages your creative investment and budget, and increases frequency and reach. When combined with email and prospecting techniques such as in-branch materials, newspaper ads, and statement stuffers, you'll have a very powerful campaign that reaches far and wide to reinforce your brand and snaps up those loans.
You might be thinking direct mail is an old school technique, not worth pursuing regardless of cost. Consider this: as traditional mail volume decreases and electronic mail and social media increase, your chances of being noticed and read better than ever. An over-sized postcard is like a mini billboard in the mailbox. The open rates on letters from "your financial institution" are shockingly high.
If you still believe direct mail suffers under the stigma of junk mail, truthfully, you're not using current techniques and should switch marketing partners. Match-mail envelopes, as opposed to window envelopes, are only one way to let the recipient know they need to open this letter. Variable data fields personalize everything to a high level, too. That's only the beginning.
The market for loans has shifted to more solid footing. If you're looking for a way to capture this business, and reacquaint members and non-members with your credit union, direct mail should be your first choice.

Pinpoint Direct Marketing creates data-driven, electronic and print marketing campaigns for the financial industry. Its customized campaigns achieve excellent results without premium costs. Learn more about Pinpoint Direct Marketing at or call Kerry Blom, owner, 866-784-7555.