Mark Weber, president of brand consulting firm Weber Marketing Group shared his take on the top marketing musts and areas to watch for the new year.
Here’s what the Seattle-based marketing veteran had to say:
1. Ensure your brand and culture are fully aligned for growth.
Led by a desire to increase market awareness and drive the growth of new, younger members, the industry saw a wave of name changes and rebranding programs. Unfortunately, many were focused merely on lip service with a nice looking design upgrade of brochures, posters and lifestyle photos, or what we would call “brand light.”
Senior leaders looking to make their brand aligned to the culture, raise the bar on quality brand service experiences and build a relevant value proposition need a strong process of engagement across functional teams. They need meaningful internal, member and non-member research to realistically gauge the perceptions of their brand image in the market and uncover what prospects are looking for and confused by amidst competitive bank challengers.
Many credit union websites have not been significantly upgraded in years, so they are underperforming to key issues like search engine optimization and social media integration. That means precious marketing dollars are being wasted.
Besides upgrading to a manageable CMS system and more dynamic content, consider upgrading websites to Responsive Design platforms. RD sites automatically scale, resize and adjust all content and visuals to match whatever screen the user is on. So your website can be viewed just as easily on an iPhone or Droid, as it can on an iPad, Kindle or laptop.
3. Rethink and improve the role of social media in your overall mix.
There are now effective Web tools to help track new visitor demographics and behaviors, increase the results of visits and improve SEO and actions of sites like Facebook. These must be linked more closely to a balanced media mix of interactive and traditional media from SEO, improved web traffic building SEM, to direct response marketing and media.
As new members are landed, effective onboarding programs must rely on solid matrix based email marketing, traditional MCIF matrix marketing and a blend of very personalized email, snail mail, phone calls and behavior-based cross-selling CRM software for tellers and member service representatives.
Integrated platform software can track member channel actions – including social media visits, ATM, POS, mobile and Web behavior -- and link that data to actionable responses in marketing, branches, call centers for follow on service contacts. This will raise the bar on the value of social media.
4. Prepare for the next wave of mobile and payment evolution.
The first wave of mobile banking, PFM tools and iPad apps have rolled out – and some are coming up short of expectations and usage. There will need to be dollars committed to solid work on improved app and tool functionality, relevant upgrades and options like P2P transfers, integrated payment systems, enhanced applications, etc.
Enhancements to iPads, growth of Kindles and Windows8 Surface technologies will change the landscape and require shifts at credit unions. As mobile wallet platforms like Google Wallet continue to grow, credit unions will need to respond with viable options that keep members connected.
Branches are not going away for about 45% of the US population who still pick their PFI based on having them, and sometimes use them for some form of advice, problem solving, product and account opening, transaction and social relationships.
The real problem is that branches are designed on an antiquated model that has shifted radically from teller transactions to a wired, mobile, fast-paced lifestyle. Many branches today are poorly located, oversized, inefficient, and have no business model to create a relevant and dynamic experience geared to younger Gen Y and Gen X members and prospects.
Credit unions need a solid geo-demographic analysis of their markets and shifting member patterns, and a branch optimization plan to identify how many, where, how big, what type and what to do with their existing locations – close, consolidate, relocate, renovate or shrink. Then they need relevant design.