When you're in monster country, bring a guide

Squishing the Monster of Meh

Quick, what’s your biggest Marketing monster?

I bet you said something like “Budget and resources! I need more money and power! And a time machine!”

You’re not alone. In every survey of CU Marketers I’ve seen, “resources” is the top concern or obstacle.

But I think we’ve slightly mislabeled this monster. Or maybe the real monster behind the Tiny Budget Goblin is a bigger one, the Monster of Meh. Also known as plain old “Apathy”. You know, the old “Who cares?” Ogre.

In order to invest in marketing, your board and executives have to get excited about it. Otherwise, you’re trapped in the same old “do more with less” mindset.

How do you get CU executives excited about investing in marketing and brand-building?

Squish their biggest, hairiest monsters

One key is to understand the bigger strategic monsters your leadership is concerned with, and show how marketing and branding are their most powerful weapons for fighting off the biggest threats.

To give just one example, a lot of credit unions are staring at a big ugly wrinkly Member Aging Monster that shuffles a little closer every year.

The good news is old-fashioned credit union values resonate powerfully with younger people – they’re hungry for alternatives to the corporate banks. So it makes a lot of sense to invest in things like understanding and reaching students and people beginning their careers, and realigning and clarifying your brand, communication, and product strategies for younger people.

Tame the numbers monster

No matter what your title is, if you’re a CU Marketer you have to speak the money language. You have to know ROI and break-even points forward and backward in your sleep.

Of course, numbers are only half the battle – you need to have answers for your CU leadership that make financial sense for the things where ROI or reach can’t be directly calculated, like brand development, community outreach, content marketing, research, etc. Make sure you’re ready to show the value.

Get to know those little personal monsters

CU boards and leaders are concerned with the bigger issues, but to really get their enthusiasm and buy-in, you have to understand what motivates them personally and emotionally. What are their fears and pain points? What’s their vision? What are their dreams?

They want to avoid mistakes, make good decisions, and see the credit union grow and thrive. They want the credit union to compete with the big banks, and the CU across town. They want to make their mark by enacting a revolutionary new vision. They want to feel the CU is well-positioned to meet any challenge.

There are a million individual variations. And of course, Marketing can help answer all these needs.

When you’re in monster country, bring a guide.

It’s tough to read the label from inside the jar. In other words, it’s hard to really understand your brand, your culture, and what makes your credit union truly unique if you’re soaking in the middle of it. The extraordinary things you do are just everyday life.

That’s why you sometimes need a guide with an outside perspective. One of the most gratifying and powerful things we do is help credit unions understand the core of their emotional, authentic, and unique connections with their members.

Differentiation is pure growth plutonium – the things that make your credit union different, truly one of a kind, are what make people care. And that applies to credit union leaders as well as potential members.

Give people plenty of reasons to care, and those monsters start to get a lot smaller and cuddlier.

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