Never underestimate the power of an emotionally appealing marketing campaign.
That was the message reinforced throughout the MAC annual conference recently held at the Westin Market Street hotel in San Francisco.
"People want stuff," said Jim Svoboda, partner/director of response marketing at Redstone. "Knowing the whys of that want is the key to helping them rationalize turning desire into action."
For Svoboda, it boils down to Richard C. Maddock’s motigraphics theory of motivation, the 11 human motive influences:
• Personal orientation (who I should be),
• Spiritual survival (passion, faith, family, friends),
• Physical survival,
• Adaptation(fitting in, belonging),
• Territorial survival (achievement, power, status),
• Expectation (hope and closure),
• Sexual survival (impulse, gender reinforcement),
• Place orientation (where I want to be),
• Time orientation,
• Play(enjoyment of a process), and
"No matter what you’re selling, chances are just about everyone wants it under the right circumstances, so you’ve got to find or create those circumstances," said Svoboda. "There are two ways to create a buying circumstance. Either remove obstacles or build a ramp to get over those obstacles. In building the ramp, recognize that purchase decisions are made emotionally, if that is not well understood then that purchase behavior is the result of rationalization–acting on the want will be a misfire."
He added that by becoming more aware of the 11 motivators, credit unions can pick which elements to emphasize, mix and continue to tweak to develop a campaign that delivers an emotional punch.
When it comes to testing marketing ideas, Attune Managing Partners Maya Bourdeau and Jiao Zhang advised MAC annual conference attendees to "fail fast and fail cheap."
"You don’t need large sample sizes to qualitatively test your ideas," said Bourdeau. "You’ll have better results and final product by limiting your sample size to no more than 12 people and doing many rounds of testing and retesting."
In a session entitled "How to Communicate with Nonmembers," Bourdeau and Zhang shared that the biggest barriers for consumers to switch to a credit union are that the buying process is unpleasant and they need more information. Their research revealed that credit unions need to deliver a compelling reason for consumers to switch.
"People value what they have," said Bourdeau. "For example, a study found that when seeing a coffee mug, people rate it’s real value as $3.12. After owning that coffee mug, people rate its real value as $7.12. To beat the established competition, you better be twice as good or half the price."
She added that it’s difficult to get the message across when running up against people’s beliefs because regardless of facts and truths presented, people believe what they believe. So, for example, the standard reasons of ownership and nonprofit won’t resonate because many consumers believe nonprofit and bank are opposites.
"It’s not enough to just say ‘It’s in your hands, join a credit union’ because what consumers hear is ‘move to Swaziland.’ The fog is so thick that you can’t use a regular motivator. The simplest benefit which resonates with consumers is saving and earning more money," said Bourdeau. "You don’t want to create a situation where you go up against consumers’ personal beliefs."
The buying process, which consumers find unpleasant, or the need for more information, Bourdeau said, creates emotional uncertainty.
According to Zhang, emotionally powerful campaigns are more effective and outperform purely rational ones. "We do things mostly because they feel good," said Zhang.
In addition, being dramatically different or unique triples the odds of success, so credit unions should steer clear of using stock photography, which only adds to the challenge of differentiating between brands. Personal responsibility slogans like "Credit unions for people not profit" or "I choose credit unions" in particular tested well with the younger generation as it gave a sense of empowerment.
"The what’s in it for me, seeing a clear benefit is more appealing to middle and low income than the affluent," said Bourdeau. "The key for credit unions is to play up their unique credit union grassroots."
Zhang added that 10 ad elements tested best with nonmembers:
• A simple message.
• No CU lingo such as co-op, member, join, or ownership.
• A specific, personal benefit to potential members.
• Clear cues that it is a financial institution with banking services with easy access to your money.
• Don’t overstate the benefits.
• Shows how benefits are acquired.
• Focus your slogan on people.
• The slogan favorably compares CUs to banks (without bashing banks).
• Emotionally relevant imagery; people want to feel financially carefree.
• Unique imagery that catches the eye.
"A simple, easy to understand message has a 70% greater chance of success," said Zhang. "When people have too many choices, they feel overwhelmed and the instinctive response is to stop, pull back and make no decisions. Your message should be so simple that a 10-year-old should be able to get it."
She added that the message should also be devoid of blatant bank bashing because those who are really angry with banks represent a small minority.
"The wider audience and majority of consumers are just ‘eh’ about the banking industry," said Zhang. "So it’s better to talk about how good you are as an effective way to reach a wider audience without getting people defensive."
She added that when listing those benefits, credit unions should focus on the personal, such as "Save $200 per year on average" as it increases the odds of marketing success by 52%. In addition, showing how that benefit was reached tested the best with consumers. For example, Attune found a formula of better rates plus lower fees equals big savings in its ads resonated well.
To help ensure the creation of positive emotional campaigns Zhang and Bourdeau advised attendees use the RUN test: Rewarding. What would make the person happy? Unique. How can I make the gift unique? Natural fit. Does the gift tell the person how I feel?
"If an idea doesn’t pass the test, don’t run with it," said Zhang.