So, I thought I was good at something, but my family got a laugh out of it. I was absolutely sure, for no particular reason, that I could mimic the sound of waves at the beach with my mouth. No clue why I thought I could; I just knew it. While I think it's as close as a non-Michael Windslow mouth can do, my family says it sounds like snoring.
What does this have to do with my role at Coastal and the credit union movement? I believe a good deal: Self-reflection and Marketing 3.0. We are a proud industry leaning on an authentic history of serving the underserved and delivering great rates on loans and deposits. However, there are many new players in the financial space and between banks and fintech startups, the advantage we once had is quickly diminishing. Just go to Bankrate.com and see if you still believe you are a rate leader. Also, check out Rocket Mortgage. They are actually higher than average in rate, but their product is so smooth and easy, consumers are willing to pay more than go into a branch.
But, if we can’t hang our hat on low rate or service, where will our hat go? Will it just lie on the floor and get dirty?!? What would Don Draper think?!?
Whew, glad you got that out of your system. Credit Unions will always have a value prop that banks will never be able to match: transparency. Credit unions are in an amazing position to be truly member responsive: we don't have Wall Street quarterly numbers to meet and our CEOs answer to member-run boards. We have the ultimate ability to produce products that provide shared value, without “gotcha” fees or a million hurdles. We can double down on transparency to deliver products and service that helps members navigate their finances and to feel more confident. This isn’t just a feel good story; it will help increase sales. According to a 2016 JD Power survey on sales in finance, transparency pays off: 71% of consumers purchased a new product when needs were identified and the features and fees were explained in a transparent manner. I think we could all get behind a process that gets 71% of members to get a new product. Therefore, chasing transparency is not only consumer friendly, but also a tool to increase sales.
The question now is how start. To help, I’ll use a comparison from a different industry. UBER is a darling of the digital transformation, or Marketing 3.0. Everyone obsesses over the interface and how it allows you to get from point A to B easier. But, what is critically important is the fact that the app isn’t just flash, it’s main function is to provide transparency: you know where the car is, you see how much it would cost, you can preload the destination so there’s no confusion. Do your members know how much your products will cost? Do they know where the card is they just ordered? Do they know where they are in the mortgage process and what documents they need to complete it?
Those are tough questions and it’s why my C-Suite created my position where I own Marketing and Product Development. This position allows me to bridge the gap between message and product, promise and delivery. Transparency is our competitive advantage and owning both sides allows me to capitalize on this because I’m directly connected to the profitability of the product and the marketing of it. It’s this focus on transparency and the creation of shared value that has allowed us to produce great products and services for members, who then become brand ambassadors.
Marketing 3.0 is all about realizing that you are your products. We can't survive on credit union mythos alone, especially if you’ve added a new fee just because the competition does or you don’t take the time to explain how your products work. Every day the financial space has more competition, so today, not tomorrow, is the time for self-reflection. You need to understand that you sound like you're snoring, and not the ocean, and then try to find a new angle, adjust your products, make your members lives easier. Make them trust you and be your brand ambassadors. Find something new like me. I know I can't do oceans, but I do know that I’m really good at mimicking a bomb dropping. That’s just a fact…right?