Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Keep the Gears Engaged


It’s been much too long since I have posted here. I’ve been hard at work getting Maine State CU’s new web site ready to launch by the end of July (which is rapidly approaching and causing me much anxiety). So I just wanted to share a bit of the stuff I’m trying to work into our site as it launches or as we continue to improve it.

First, let me say that a little variety can go a long way with a site. Your site doesn’t need to have tons of flash animation or graphics to catch people’s eye. Sometimes its as simple as having a set of header images that rotate each time the page is refreshed. Make people feel like every time they load a page they see something new.

Second, I think its very important that there is a tie between the online channel and the in branch experience. Even though more and more members are using online banking every day, there will always be a need for that personal interaction. I think being personal is one of the single most important (though cliché) things a credit union can do to increase a member’s relationship with the credit union.

Your tellers are the face of your branch, so why not the online channel as well. Use images of the people and places your members recognize and interact with on a daily basis. This puts a face to what is typically a cold and impersonal experience filled with stock photography (stock photos make me cringe).

Third, coordinate your marketing across as many channels as you possible can. Visually and in the copy, try and keep things together. A fractured marketing campaign can only lead to fractured response. By keeping things consistent through copy, color, imagery, and message, you portray (even if the member only notices subconsciously) a professional and consistent brand. Also, something as simple as color coding between website sections and print materials can go a long way in making it easier for members to spot the information they are looking for.

It’s all about keeping your brand consistent through coordinating your marketing materials (whether in print or electronic), keeping the electronic channel personal, and providing the information members want to see in a convenient, logical, and easy to navigate format.

If you want to get your credit union moving, all the marketing gears have to engage each other, otherwise you're getting way less traction than you need.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Hitchhikers Guide to Marketing?


I've been rereading "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" recently. First off, love this book, it appeals to many of my sides. The geek side loves the weird, creative sci-fi and my intellectual side revels in all the satire sprinkled into the (very twisted) storyline.

At one point in the story, the main characters find themselves on a ship full of marketers, accountants, and other "middlemen". They had been told their planet was doomed and that the entire population was to get into 3 giant ships and colonize another planet. The great thinkers in one, the middle men in a second, and the people who did the actual work in a third. They gave the middlemen a "head start". Turns out they just wanted to get rid of the middlemen.

Once the ship lands on what later is revealed to be prehistoric earth (yeah I told you the plot was bazaar) they begin trying to establish a civilization. After 500+ committee meetings, nobody has so much as discovered fire. One of my favorite quotes, and perhaps this strikes me as so funny because I'm now in marketing, is when a marketer in the group says (regarding their failed attempts at discovering fire) " you know that before any new product can be developed it has to be properly researched. We’ve got to find out what people want from fire, how they relate to it, what sort of image it has for them."

This got me thinking. Is it possible that we, as marketers, get so caught up in analysis and research that we lose sight of what might be a simple, elegant, and easy solution?

I'm not saying that we should just wing it with every new idea and product. There is a reason for research, a good reason, but does that sometimes get in the way of true creativity or blind some of us to the simplest solutions?