Archive for December, 2008

There’s really no bad time to a) let your customers do your marketing for you, b) reduce your budget and c) enhance the effectiveness of your efforts. But with the economy slowing down, there’s no better time. Forget the government definition–if you think you’re in a recession, then you are. And our experience tells us many of you think you are in a recession, and are feeling the pressure to act accordingly.

Well thank goodness for word of mouth advertising, then. We could call it “recession marketing” but that wouldn’t be quite as sexy…or accurate. World of mouth marketing is a smart strategy anytime, but right now it’s become downright vital. If you’re marketing for a bank or credit union, you can no longer try to outspend the competition with your interruption marketing. Instead, you need to join the conversation…now more than ever.

The following presentation, put together by the folks at the BuzzCanuck blog, does a very nice job of summarizing 12 key reasons why word of mouth (whether you’re wanting an entire guerrilla marketing effort, a viral campaign or simply a better bank promotion) is so well suited to help bank marketing and credit union marketing out in this tough time.


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Whatever phrase you want to use–try before you buy, take a test drive, taste test, etc–the concept of sampling before you make a commitment at banks and credit unions is greatly lacking. Tim at Currency just blogged about it last week, in fact. We’ve talked about it with our clients, too, but without much luck.

I just learned about an awesome new program from Amazon for its Kindle product, though, which provides a great model. And, it’s a major buzz generator. It’s called the See a Kindle In Your City Program, and it connects prospective Kindle buyers with existing Kindle owners so they can get a test drive and an in-person review before they commit. In other words, it’s all about word of mouth marketing. This is pretty genius for a couple reasons:

·It fosters a sense of exclusivity—you have to have a secret hook-up to check one out
·It gets people talking to people about the product—creating buzz

and most importantly….

·It puts passionate fans in contact with potential buyers!

Think about that last point for a second. You wouldn’t sign up to show off your Kindle unless you were a passionate fan. So when you sit down with the guy who drove all the way across town to see your Kindle, you’re bound to gush about all the cool stuff that got you so excited that you signed up for the program.

So of course the question is, how can a credit union or bank harness this powerful word of mouth marketing tactic? Here is an obvious idea: Cultivate a database of “reference” customers/members you can connect prospective customers/members with. Connect like people who might have something in common. Introduce them to each other (which could have a great networking by-product for each of them, too), and give them a branded $25 gift card from your bank or credit union to go have lunch and talk. Encourage your prospect to ask the tough questions; encourage your reference to be as transparent and honest as possible.

Want to take it a notch further? REQUIRE your new members/customers to meet with an existing member/customer prior to joining your credit union or bank. Tell them it’s because you want to ensure the fit is 100% perfect, and you want them to make sure they know what they’re getting into when they become a member/customer.

Take that idea for a test drive. It’ll create buzz.

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I am glad to see credit unions making a name for themselves during this opportune time. Not to take sides, but some of the marketing efforts they’re producing are really clever, and potentially also very viral. Open Source CU introduced me to the sassy and humorous video series, “What if the rest of the world was like a credit union”. The videos parody the way in which big banks took full advantage of unassuming customers, and show how credit unions don’t. Take a look:

(Watch the other two videos here and here).

Why these videos could generate a lot of buzz for the credit union industry:

  • they are funny yet intelligent (not every video that goes viral has to be slapstick humor)
  • there’s more than one of them (series tend to be more successful)
  • they’re relatable (who hasn’t been suckered into a store card or little-used gym membership?)
  • they’re easy to share (like I just did.)

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I would like to share this two part video with all of our friends, family, admirers, partners, clients and future clients.

I followed the designs, branding and marketing of the Obama Campaign ’08 for some time, because it was brilliant! Now we finally get to see it from the designer’s prospective. This video by Sol Sender is an excellent example of the kind of work and thought that goes into creating an identity for a person, company or business. Sol talks about the designer/client relationship, presentations, applications, and how the final logo became such a widely accepted and diverisifiable image, even making the brand viral. He also mentions the brand’s extenuation through blogs and media applications such as social networking sites. Sol discusses the importance of the honesty, character and value behind the company (or person) and their message – and the interaction that message has with its community. These are all extremely important topics, especially when you’re talking about word of mouth and how all of the pieces work together.

I urge you all to take the time to watch this and see what kind of work, ideas and passion go into your company when you chose a team like PSST! to get your bank or credit union marketing going (or continuing) in the right direction. It’s such a great insight to the world we come from and what we are passionate about creating for ourselves and the people around us.

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As I was reading this post from fellow WOMMA member Ogilvy PR’s 360 Degree Digital Influence Group, I was reminded of one of the great (and brilliantly simple) points that I took away from the WOMMA Summit last month in Las Vegas.  I too sat in the same session from Feed Company that the post’s author Emily Goligoski sat in, and I remember that the presenter made the point that “viral is a result, not a strategy.”  My reaction was:  “duh….how come I never thought about that?”

The word “viral” has gotten a little out of control.  No word of mouth marketing tactic that a bank or credit union could employ is really “viral” unless it is actually does get spread exponentially.  A video you post on YouTube is not viral until it has spread like crazy.

So how can you get it to achieve “viral” status?  That, of course, is the money question.  I know from the presentation from Feed Company that doing so with an online video is quite a science.  But generally speaking, we can say that your best chance at getting the “viral” result will be if you make sure your content a) is indeed buzz-worthy, b) relevant to your talker group, not just to your credit union and c) easy to pass along to others.

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If you’ve enjoyed the analogies we’ve included in the PSST! word of mouth marketing for credit unions website for “things that spread” (see the bottom of the pages in each section for multiple examples), then you’ll enjoy this post from Buzz Canuck: The 20 Most Contagious Things In Life. They’ve got a good list going, from applause to yawing, and are asking for more ideas. What else can you think of?

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A special thanks to our main man Brent Dixon at Open Source CU for inviting us to guest-post a three-part series on word of mouth marketing for credit unions. The first post of three is up right now, so go ahead and check it out. And if you’re not already a regular reader of Open Source CU…go ahead and fix that little error right now—you are forgiven. From social media to CU values to products and services, the blog is essentially the headquarters for great discussion and big thinking about the future of the credit union movement. Take a page out of the WOM playbook and jump in and join the conversation going on over at www.opensourcecu.com.

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