Run that by me again?
I hear it a lot. As an I.T. guy, it’s easy to see how tech-speak can turn even a highly educated executive into any other befuddled end-user. If someone’s not familiar with what you do, the terms used to describe your work might be useless or, even worse, cause more confusion.
Whether we’re comparing ourselves to banks or selling ourselves to potential members, credit unions use lots of lingo. We use terms like “not-for-profit,” “financial cooperative,” and “member.” Who are we really trying to communicate with? Just because we know these terms doesn’t mean they’ll do a person outside of the industry any good.
In a 2011 Filene Research study, “Selling the Credit Union Difference: Large-Scale Credit Union Branding,” Maya Bordeau and Jiao Zhang of Attune LLC found that the typical words we in the industry love to use cause confusion.
“Words like member, join, and cooperative are enticing for the credit union marketer, but they serve mainly to confuse potential members,” they wrote. The study goes on to find that the lingo and themes that tested the best with consumers included specific benefits that weren’t overstated and were easy to understand.
Whether you have been in the credit union industry for a few months or a few decades, chances are you have heard that most consumers don’t know what a credit union is. If knowledge is power, then educating consumers on the benefits of joining a credit union is our most important task. Recently, I had the pleasure of viewing an ad campaign that I feel should be the prototype for credit union advertising campaigns.
What the League of Southeastern Credit Unions has put out is a simple and informative message with their recent campaign, “A Better Name for Banking.”
“A credit union is a better place to do your banking, checking, savings, loans, everything,” the ad says. The ad cuts to the chase. It doesn’t try to explain our could-be-confusing corporate or ownership structures. (Why not save the explanation for those who come asking for the fine details?)
It’s easy to hear the call for a collective ad campaign for the industry. While the coordination of a national campaign may be too big to pull off, perhaps the most successful campaigns will be those among state leagues and credit union chapters who strive to keep it simple. Let’s make the credit union difference easy to explain.
The Cooperative Trust is a grassroots organization composed of several hundred young credit union professionals. Its activities include meetings, mentorships online collaboration and development projects. Opinions expressed are the personal views of the author.
Jayson Peters is IT manager at Wyandotte Federal Credit Union.
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