Tag Archive for banks

The Old Branding Bait n’ Switch (Guest Post)

cbEver been the victim of a “bait and switch”?  See an ad for something at a great price, almost too good to be true.  You go to the store, or website…and they’re out of stock.  But there are other items available, substitutes, usually.  And they’re almost always different enough or more expensive enough that you don’t buy.  You took the bait, they switched the goods, and you’re left feeling misled and mistreated.  That can’t help that company’s reputation, can it?

That’s what happens when organizations don’t think about their own culture and align it with their marketing efforts.  And it’s a common fail.

Most organizations think: here’s a product, here’s a service.  How can we sell it?  What’s the key message?  What’s cool now?  What will catch folks’ eye?  How can we appeal to our target demographic?  The effort to create marketing and advertising is built around the product, and the medium we’re using, and the folks we’re trying to reach. Makes sense, right? But all too often, the product/customer/media discussion leads to one type of message…which the culture of the CU or company can’t support.  (I work in the credit union industry…thus the reference to CUs.  This theory easily applies to all companies.)

Consider a radio spot with young adults talking about where they bank.  One of them says his CU is great.  Nice people, friendly, fast.  And the ad works.  A young person comes into a branch… and the switch is complete.  There are tellers…but there’s a line.  There are forms to fill out.  It’s right before lunch… and that teller isn’t thinking “friendly”…she’s thinking, “hungry.”  That potential member….maybe now, not so much.

The ad worked – but it hadn’t considered the culture.  In this case, the culture couldn’t support the outreach.  The actual experience didn’t match the advertised experience.  Bait and switch.

When effective organizations think about marketing, they think NOT JUST product, media, target.  They think culture.  They ask themselves: who are we, how do we behave, and can we support the advertised experience through our people, processes and behaviors.

And keep in mind: culture is not what you say.  It’s what you DO.  Culture is the sum total of all the behaviors in your CU.  Align them with your marketing, and potential members will become actual members.

Too many people say (when referring to their logo), “But, that is our brand.”  Your organization’s brand is not a color or image.  Your brand is the emotion that people feel when thinking about your organization or seeing your logo.  Much like culture is not what you say, a brand is not what you do…but rather, how you make people FEEL.

Have you strategically woven together your marketing efforts, brand, and culture?  It’s still early enough in the year to revisit strategic goals.  Make sure your marketing efforts and brand truthfully tell your members and customers who you are, what you do, and leave them feeling something positive.  Tell your story honestly and avoid the old “bait and switch.”


Deb Schaffer, Queen of Conversation for Chatter Yak.  Chatter Yak! is credit union marketing made simple. Cooperative. Collaborative. CUSO. (www.chatteryak.com, @chatteryak, @debschaffer)

More from the Water Cooler: Bank Bashing

As I continue to digest the epic awesomeness that was the Credit Union Water Cooler Symposium (CUWCS), I’d like to use Maya Bourdeau’s discussion as a springboard to address a larger issue that I’ve seen around the credit union world. During Maya’s fascinating presentation on how credit unions could better market and advertise, she mentioned two things about which I’d like to comment.

First, and I’ll not dwell on this since I mentioned this in my previous post, Maya said that potential members need a compelling reason to do business with us. I couldn’t agree more. That said, I’m going to quickly provide you some reasons we seem to use a whole lot that I don’t find very compelling at all.

  1. We’re not a big, bad bank. (More on this below)
  2. We are a not-for-profit community cooperative that reports to its members rather than a board  of stockholders. This is an accurate statement, to be sure, but it fails to connect and resonate with someone who hears it. What does it mean for them and their money? It’s far too vague and abstract a statement to have a real impact.
  3. We offer better service than banks. (More on this below)

Second, Maya delivered the news that outright bank bashing wasn’t the best selling point for us. I wanted to stand and applaud when she said that. You see, here’s the thing. Upon entering the credit union world over a year ago now, I was bombarded from all sides with what sounded like canned credit union propaganda. It was rhetoric of the nature I’d heard in political campaigns as far back as I can remember. And I’ve got to say – and I hope I don’t infuriate too many of you with this statement – a lot of what was said seems to be a bit disingenuous and impossible to verify at best, and downright dishonest at worst. Like these statements, for example:

  1. Banks are big and bad and don’t care about people (or some variation of this). The problem is that big doesn’t necessarily equate to bad, and I find it hard to believe (read impossible) that banks everywhere are filled with heartless half-humans who want nothing but to swindle hard-working Americans out of their money by charging higher rates, etc. It’s just not the case. I banked with Regions for years before joining the credit union that I work at now, and I can tell you from personal experience that they did an awesome job for my family.
  2. We offer far superior service than that which you’d encounter at a bank. As I said, I was a Regions guy for a good bit, and I’ve got to tell you, they were kind, courteous, professional, helpful, had good online banking options, dropped fees, knew me by name, etc. In short, I’d still recommend them if asked (though that’s not to say I wouldn’t try to compel them to join the credit union tribe). I’m just not sure it’s fair for us to declare so authoritatively that we in the credit union world, across the board, offer better service to our members than banks do to their customers. I’ve heard that countless times, but it strikes me as entirely too general a statement.
  3. Banks only care about the stockholders. Come on. Really? Do you think most bank branch personnel give two shekels about the stockholders in their organization? I don’t think so. I think they, like us, just want to do a really great job helping people with their financial needs.

So listen — I think we in the credit union world can be, and ought to be, and indeed very often are, the better option for individuals and families looking at where to bank. I think there are several pretty compelling and specific reasons for that. My challenge for us in the credit union tribe is this: Let’s provide them with those compelling reasons to join us. And let’s leave the outright bank-bashing nonsense behind.