In his classic best-seller, How to Win Friends And Influence People, Dale Carnegie's second chapter is entitled The Big Secret of Dealing With People. The secret is summed up in this principle: Give honest and sincere appreciation.
Carnegie said there is only one way to get anybody to do anything -- by making the person want to do it. How can you encourage members to say good things about you and give you referrals? By giving them what they and all human beings crave: honest and sincere appreciation.
The Two Magic Words
The big secret of dealing with people (or members) is often overlooked or forgotten. It's simply saying "thank you" consistently, personally and, above all, sincerely. These two words work marketing magic because members want to feel important.
Saying "thank you" is an act of kindness. But don't say "thank you" for the sake of flattery. It must be sincere. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "You can never say anything but what you are."
"Thank You" Promotes Word-of Mouth Referrals
The uncertainty of referrals and word-of-mouth marketing can be disconcerting. Can you control them? No. Can you influence them? Absolutely.
First you must provide a valuable product or service for members (You're already doing this, right?). But perhaps you can make an even bigger difference in their minds by your continued interest after you've delivered the product or service.
Each member has a different level of satisfaction with your products and services. However, all members to whom you say "thank you" are satisfied that they're important to you. This can determine whether your relationship will flourish and improve member word-of-mouth referrals.
"Thank You" as Direct Mail or E-mail
It’s likely that you’re already using (or over-using) direct mail at your credit union, right? But instead of using direct mail for promotional offers, try starting a thank you correspondence program. If you've used direct mail or e-mail but haven't sent thank you letters or e-mails, start now.
The thank you letter or e-mail to your members is targeted (you know them, they know you), personal and effective. It's guaranteed to receive a positive response.
Furthermore, it's a pleasant surprise if it's snail mail. They see your envelope. They think, this must be something for me to review, to sign, or worse a bill. Surprise! They're appreciated; they're important. And you're the one telling them so.
But don’t make all of your thank you correspondence automated. Have staff write out thank you notes, letters or e-mails at every opportunity. Don't send one with a notice or other correspondence, always send your thank you notes separately.
Writing the Thank You Letter or E-mail
The thought behind a thank you letter or e-mail may seem simple, but writing one can be tricky.
Here are 9 tips for writing winning thank you correspondence:
1. Keep it brief. Six lines (or fewer) are sufficient.
2. Make it sincere. This is crucial. If you aren't careful, it can sound awkward, even when you're trying to be sincere.
3. Start with "thank you." Dear Ms. Johnson (or first name, if appropriate): Thank you for ...
4. Make the tone warm, but professional. Be friendly, but keep it businesslike.
5. Reinforce positivity. Jog their memory of a positive aspect of the relationship.
6. Offer your continued support. If I can help, please call ...
7. End with "thank you." Thanks again for ...
8. Use an appropriate closing. Sincerely, Best regards.
9. No ulterior motive. Make it a pure "thank you," otherwise sincerity is jeopardized.
Remember: Saying "thank you" is part of building strong member relationships over time. Use these two magic words consistently and watch your member loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals grow.
Still trying to find the time to put together a beautifully written, well-researched, comprehensive marketing plan? You’re not alone. Believe it or not, most credit unions we speak to don’t have an in-depth marketing strategy or plan. Unfortunately all too often credit union marketing professionals are bogged down with compliance burden, social media, public relations, event planning, analytics, and all of the day-to-day tactical work that comes with running their departments.
Most credit unions start with a simple marketing calendar and end up using this approach for years, never truly diving deeper, developing marketing strategies for growth. That’s where the 30-minute marketing plan comes in.
Start somewhere. Before writing your 30-minute marketing plan, it’s important to know the difference between a marketing calendar and a marketing plan:
Marketing Calendar: A month-to-month listing of product promotions and events. A marketing calendar is tactical in nature, a “to-do” list of sorts.
Marketing Plan: A written document that outlines your marketing objectives, your current situation, target audience, strategies, and tactics for how you’re going to achieve aforementioned goals. In addition, marketing plans often include a budget breakdown.
The purpose of a 30-minute marketing plan isn’t to serve as your end-all strategic marketing plan every year, but more to provide a preliminary guide and get your wheels turning as a precursor to writing your complete marketing strategy. If you hire a consultant to prepare your strategic marketing plan, providing them with your 30-minute marketing plan may also take some of the research costs out of the equation.
STEP 1: SITUATION ANALYSIS
In order to make forward progress, you must first understand where you are now. Using simple tools such as the SWOT or PEST analysis can help you examine both your internal and external environment and give you a 360° view of where your organization stands in the marketplace.
STEP 2: OBJECTIVES & STRATEGY
You’ll want to spend the most time on this section, adding a clear picture of the direction your plan will take. It is best to start by reviewing the objectives from your credit union’s strategic plan and aligning your marketing objectives accordingly. By doing this, you’ll ensure that all marketing initiatives ultimately funnel back to the growth of your organization. Once the objectives have been determined, you’ll be able to outline the specific strategies you will take to achieve each objective.
Objective: Increase average number of products per household
Strategy: Implement & launch relationship-pricing structure
STEP 3: TARGET MARKET
Marketing is all about knowing your members and your target audience. Perhaps your credit union already has a target audience established, but if not you can determine this by taking a closer look at your objectives. Do your objectives include increasing deposits and loans? Perhaps your target audience for this plan will lean more toward the baby boomer demographic. Focusing on checking account penetration? Maybe developing relationships with millennials is the direction you want to go. Whatever direction you decide to go, having a target market will help get the best bang for your marketing buck, eliminating the guesswork and optimizing your marketing resources.
STEP 4: COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
A communications strategy can be complex, but for the purpose of the 30-minute marketing plan, you’ll want to identify your top 3 communication messages (based on your previously determined objectives and target audience) and use these messages as guiding principles in the formation of all communications going forward.
STEP 5: BUDGET
Developing your 30-minute marketing plan before the annual budget is determined may provide that extra push to help get that budget increase you’ve been waiting for. If your budget for the year has already been set, now is the time to allocate those funds to various objectives and strategies from the previous section. Don’t forget to leave room for the delivery channels you’ve outlined in your communications strategy.
Outlining the above steps should be a quick, 30-minute exercise that can help gain buy-in from senior management, keep your department focused, and can open the door to writing a more comprehensive strategic marketing plan.
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When marketing on a shoestring budget, there is much less room for error, which means that your approach needs to be focused, organized, well executed, and methodical. No one has room for loose, haphazard marketing attempts in such a saturated and competitive market. Here are a few tips for effective and inexpensive marketing…
1. Determine Your Goal(s)
Before you go to market, knowing your marketing goals and how to measure them is extremely important and will allow you to focus your marketing efforts. If you’re unsure of what the ultimate measure of success will be, you’re bound to spend more money on marketing just for the sake of marketing.
2. Focus on One Channel
A low cost way of reaching your target audience is to put most or all of your marketing dollars into one channel to start. Then track the results and determine the effectiveness of this particular channel before deciding whether or not to invest additional marketing dollars or to try a different channel.
3. Maintain a Consistent Online Presence
Maintaining an online presence is something that any institution can do, but being consistent is another story. For example, if social media marketing is part of your strategic plan, make sure you post regularly, develop custom content, and cross post between your blog, social media channels, and your website. Doing so will not only build a positive and trusting reputation, but can also boost your search engine rankings. Consumers are observant. If they see that you’re not being consistent with your posting, your reputation will suffer.
4. Build a Referral Program
Word-of-mouth marketing can be your most powerful tool if you build the right program. Have you measured how many of your members are currently referring their friends and family without even being rewarded? Do you have a high NPS score? You might be surprised at how putting together a referral program can improve your member loyalty while also bringing in plenty of new business.
5. Leverage Community Relationships
Team up with other businesses in your community for a joint project, or joint marketing and business development efforts. You can host an event together, provide a community workshop, or even run a promotional giveaway contest. Some credit unions even feature a ‘business of the month’, which leverages your community relationships, positioning the credit union as an active community partner. Having a partner to split your marketing costs with is a great way to expand your brand awareness while keeping costs low.
6. Explore Guerrilla and Social Good Marketing
In this age of social media where every good deed (or bad deed) can be filmed and posted on social media sites, guerrilla marketing is more relevant than ever. Guerrilla and social good marketing are cost effective ways to stand out from the crowd. Some examples of guerilla marketing are pay it forward initiatives such as giving away free gas at the station, or paying for someone’s groceries unexpectedly. Of course there are even simpler examples like bumper stickers, sticky notes, window decals, or placing cards or stamped dollar bills in conspicuous places. Social good marketing tactics can provide positive PR, and are often very low cost. Charitable donations and volunteer work, blood drive, sponsoring the homeless, or recognizing local heroes are some great examples of social good marketing. Take a look at this list of 50 Guerrilla Marketing Tactics.
7. Feature Member Success Stories
You have free marketing at your fingertips. Every day you have members who tell you how happy they are with their experience at your organization. Why not capitalize on these moments and share the success stories? Hold a “Real Members, Real Stories” campaign, or simply ask members to submit their favorite story of how your company helped them, and then feature various stories on your website, helping build custom content while providing free or low-cost marketing. Not to mention the number of social media shares and views that your brand can receive when members share their stories.
8. Segment Your Email Marketing
Email marketing may seem like an obvious answer to low-cost marketing, however, there are some no-so-obvious ways to improve this form of marketing. If you’re not using email to push out custom content and capture leads, it may not be as effective as you think. Think about your personal email inbox. How many regular publications are delivered to your inbox that you actually look forward to reading, or make it a point to open when the email comes through? For most people, there are very few. Make your emails worth reading by providing content that intrigues and empowers your reader to take action. Having an email platform that integrates with your CRM or core provider is a fantastic way to send custom content to segmented groups of people, resulting in higher click through rates and engagement. The days of blanket email blasts are over. Customized content, segmented lists, and captured leads are your keys to success.
What inexpensive and effective marketing ideas have you implemented? Comment below and we will compile all tips and ideas into a downloadable PDF that you can share with your peers.
It’s that time of year when organizations are closing out 2015 and looking toward 2016 with commitment and determination, paving the way for additional growth. More often than not, credit unions are performing annual organizational evaluations and developing annual strategic plans. In the past, bi-annual strategic plans were enough, but in today’s competitive and ever-changing marketplace, it’s more important than ever to have a solid strategic direction year over year, or at the very least, to monitor results and adjust your goals annually. Before you embark on the strategic planning process, consider completing the exercises below (Hint: this is a good exercise for your management team):
1. Determine the value of having a strategic plan. Strategy means different things to different organizations.
2. Decide whether you need a long-range plan or a shorter-term plan.
Annual plans aren’t for everyone. Perhaps you’re organization has a long-range plan to expand into new markets, but you know this process will take longer than 12 months. A 3-5 year strategic plan may be better suited for companies whose goals are of wider scope. But don’t lose sight of managing annual performance towards your goals.
3. Establish responsibility and accountability for plan implementation.
4. Elect to choose an outside facilitator/mediator or use an internal resource for your planning session. (Hint: There are benefits to both.)
Exercise (choose one):
5. Determine what your strategic plan should include.
6. A Year in review: How did your organization perform in 2015?
7. Establish how you will track the results of your strategic planning objectives.
Download the Printable Version
Email your completed exercises to info@empower-strategies for free strategic planning analysis and recommendations.
If you’ve gotten this far, you clearly recognize the need for a strategic plan (a crucial step in becoming a catalyst for creating buy-in and commitment from your team). After completing the above exercises, your leadership team will be ready to embark on creating your organization’s strategic journey.
Stay tuned for the Strategic Planning Guide, Part II: DIY Strategic Plan
The times are changing, and marketing is no longer an afterthought in even the smallest of companies. With fierce competition looming over our heads, and regulatory issues consuming the lives of many, a marketing presence is needed in the C-Suite now more than ever. Long gone are the days where a Marketing Director's only responsibilities are placing newspaper ads, processing community donations, and maintaining tchotchke inventory.
Here are five reasons why marketing deserves a seat in the C-Suite...
1. Big Data. Let's face it, big data is a Billboard #1 hit these days. Who else within the organization is responsible for the management of big data? Finance? No. Too many numbers to crunch and GL's to balance. Operations? Definitely not. With changes in infrastructure and technology, operational inefficiencies take up the majority of their time. Compliance? Ha. In the age of fraud and frivolous lawsuits? That goes without saying. That's right, big data fits with no department other than marketing. Between CRM tools, MCIF capabilities, and core system metrics, marketing is the only department with the experience and wherewithal to dissect the data into meaningful insights, and drive the decision-making process.
2. Strategy. Executive-level marketers should own the strategic marketing plan and work closely with interns and marketing managers to implement the deliverables within the plan, ensuring that objectives are met. If your organization lacks a marketer in the c-suite, it is also likely that you lack a comprehensive strategic marketing plan. This results in members of the executive team constantly poking and prodding your marketing team for "flavor of the month" product promotions and sales, unaware of how detrimental this is to the organic growth of the organization. Next to the overall strategic plan, the strategic marketing plan (customarily also containing sales and business development strategies), is a secondary necessity to completing a successful business plan.
3. Branding. Believe it or not, you don't control your brand, your consumer does. But you can certainly influence the consumer perception of your brand if you have a dedicated brand manager within your organization. Brand manager isn't necessarily a title, it's a civic duty. Ok, maybe not a civic duty, but it's an extremely important responsibility that requires passion, immersion, and is vital to the success of any organization. Being a good leader is an important quality of any brand manager, and being that good leaders are hard to retain, giving them a seat in the C-Suite is a surefire way to build a brand evangelist and retain a loyal employee.
4. Technology. Knowing your niche is important. A CMO who sits with the Knights of the Round Table will be well-versed on everything from digital technology to cross-channel proliferation tactics, and operational automation tools. Without your C-Suite CMO, you’re either relying on an outside firm/agency to know the ins and outs of your operations, or trusting that your lower level marketing staff members are trained in the latest and greatest strategies and digital insights.
5. Accountability. Whether your CMO oversees sales and business development in addition to marketing, or is solely responsible for the retail marketing aspect of your business, as most successful organizations know, the value of being able to hold a decision-maker accountable for results is priceless. Reporting on advertising and campaign ROI, product profitability, channel efficiency, and share-of-wallet projections are just a few segments for which an executive-level CMO should be held accountable.
In summary, in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing environment of instant consumer gratification and engaging touch points, marketing roles include (but are not limited to): advertising specialists, content managers, digital analysts, data analysts, social media officers, graphic designers, brand ambassadors, business development officers, etc. Positioning an executive in the role of CMO to be accountable for all of the above responsibilities allows for optimum profitability, growth, and success for your organization.