The benefits of high Quality and the pitfalls of low Quality are obvious for things like airplanes and motorcycles. Without Quality in materials, design, craftsmanship, and maintenance, people die.
Although the risks aren’t quite as immediate or dire, Quality is just as important in our corner of the world, credit union marketing.
Quality – and the perception of Quality – are vital to CU growth. If potential members don’t get all the Quality cues provided by a solid brand, consistent Quality communication, and a seamless web site, they will go someplace where they do get those cues. The perception of a Difference is also important, but without the perception of Quality, you’re not even in the running.
But marketing in our industry has a Quality problem. For every credit union with world-class, well-executed marketing, a killer web site, and a powerful brand, there are several that are settling for low Quality marketing — generic messaging, design by committee, web sites built by someone’s nephew.
Quite frankly, it bugs the hell out of me. Credit unions and their members deserve better.
1. You only get the Quality you understand, define and insist on.
Does that mean you need to understand HTML and PHP to manage a web site project? Of course not — you just need to understand how you’re going to define Quality, be able to discern the differences, and maintain high standards. Credit unions generally have very high Quality in operations because every aspect is closely measured, monitored, and regulated. Marketing is not a precise science like accounting, and completely different tools and talents are used, but what if Marketing received a similar level of attention and importance?
2. Quality has a cost; it’s not always money.
In the marketing and design world, Quality doesn’t always mean expensive. It does mean making smart investments. Mostly, it means time and attention — someone has to make judgements and decisions, and communicate expectations clearly.
3. The value of Quality is far higher than its cost.
Low Quality is not neutral — it’s actively destructive. Low-Quality bolts can damage or destroy an airplane, and low-Quality marketing has strangled many credit unions. High Quality marketing multiplies results — every aspect of every message builds on the last, and every message is well-constructed and well-targeted.
4. You need access to specialized knowledge and skills to create Quality.
No matter what you’re doing, there are a lot of aspects to Quality. Unless you have the time to become an expert in absolutely everything, you’ll need to rely on experts and specialists to help you make decisions and create Quality marketing. That’s why professional consultants, designers, writers, and web developers are so valuable — their knowledge and experience helps you create much higher Quality marketing than you could on your own.
5. People always perceive and value Quality signals on some level, even if they can’t quite articulate the differences.
In other words, there’s no such thing as “it doesn’t matter” or “they’ll never be able to tell”. Humans are incredibly good at ranking and prioritizing — it’s an automatic survival skill, and it happens constantly on a nearly unconscious level. Quality is always perceptible; Quality always matters.
Yes, I know I capitalized the word Quality throughout this article. If you’ve ever read Robert Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance“, you’ll understand why. (I picked it up for the motorcycles. I kept reading even after I figured out it wasn’t really about motorcycles.)