Don't Muddle Your Marketing Message: Expert
When it comes to executing a marketing campaign that has to appease both members and business partners, credit unions should ensure the message doesn’t get muddled.
That’s according to Mark Arnold, president of On the Mark Strategies, a Carrollton, Texas-based branding and strategic planning firm that serves credit unions.
After launching its “Expose the Truth” campaign June 9, aimed to educate consumers and members about rate markups at auto dealerships, the $3.1 billion Space Coast Credit Union in Melbourne, Fla., pulled the entire effort July 18.
Critics, including trade group National Automobile Dealers Association, said the campaign was misguided, failed to educate consumers about all of their financing options and singled out Ally Bank, which was ordered by the CFPB in December 2013 to pay $80 million to more than 235,000 African-American, Hispanic, and Asian and Pacific Islander borrowers for discriminatory markups.
While SCCU said its intention was to help educate consumers, Arnold said the credit union should have stood firm if its intentions were consistent with its core principles.
“Your credit union brand should stand for something, otherwise it stands for nothing,” Arnold said. “Look at your core values and your core brand. If your messaging that is causing controversy rings true to your brand and core values, then stick by it. If your messaging that is causing controversy goes counter to your brand, then that is a problem.”
Arnold said controversial campaigns are not necessarily a bad thing because no one talks about a boring business.
However, the message has to be clear.
“My guess with Space Coast is that the language used sent mixed messages,” Arnold suggested. “Their campaign championed consumers and their knowledge, yet those same messages countered messages for their business partners – the dealers. Your brand and your campaign messages must ring true to everyone – your members, your business partners and your employees.”
He continued, “If you need to adjust your messaging because it caused controversy for the wrong reasons, then returning to your brand and values is the way to execute it, just like Space Coast did.”