Monday, January 5, 2009

The Dynamic Discussion

This was written as a guest post over at Check them out if you haven't already. Trust me, they rock.

Since the advent of advertising (whenever that was), marketers have gone about the task by creating products and accompanying ads that they hope resonate with their target audience and by pushing those ads out hoping people will see them. Sure, if you’re a good marketer and do your research you can create something that gets the attention of some of the people in your target, but in my opinion there is a better way.

No longer can you push out marketing. You have to have a dynamic connection to your membership. You have to have a relationship with your current membership and pull the ideas from them. No longer is marketing an internal, hierarchal process, but one that includes all levels of staff and direct input from membership.

So what am I saying?

You and your staff need to speak directly with the people in your target. Let them tell you what they want and how they want it. Then you can create something that is truly made for your target market from the bottom up.

How do you go about doing this?

Open up dialogue with your current members. If you are going for word of mouth marketing, they are the ones you want to please. Why try and target a group you don’t know/understand when you have a collection of people who you can ask what they want, please them, and have them pass on the good word to their friends and relatives?

You have to find out what the people you currently serve want and provide them with it in a way that gets them talking. Do something so uniquely tailored to that group that they tell others.

You might ask “well we’re trying to capture the youth demographic and Gen Y. We don’t have many of them, how are we going to attract them if we only do things for our current members?”

There is a big difference between “what” and “how”. In talking to your current membership you can find out the “what”. What are they like, what do they want, and what do they need? You can then take those things and deliver them in a way that is tailored to an age, or channel preference. You have to develop a recognizable culture, and then deliver it in a channel that reaches the people that match that culture.

This culture, or brand, should guide everything you do. Remember that you can’t possibly be all things to all people without becoming a faceless, commoditized institution. Keep in mind that you are looking to target a type of person. You are trying to attract people with similar interests, personalities, or common philosophical views. Only when you have established what type of people you are looking to attract should you break it down to something like age.

If you want real word of mouth growth you need to be the best at serving a specific type of person. It’s nearly impossible to compete on the level of “best rate” or “best service”, especially for smaller institutions. Why not compete on the level of “the best place for ______ type of person” and fill in that blank by knowing who you are serving right now.

Start the dialogue, know your members, know what they want, deliver it in the relevant channels, and get your current members talking.


Lisa Randolph said...

Hey Andy,

Just wanted to let you know again how much we appreciate your guest post for Banktastic. If you ever have anything else you want to share with us, just send it our way and we'll post it up. Have a great week!

Lisa Randolph, Community Manager at Banktastic

Andy said...

Thanks Lisa, it was my pleasure. You guys have built a great resource for the financial industry over at Banktastic.