Thursday, July 24, 2008

Branding and Retail Merchandising

As part of the branding discussion, one key area that tends to get overlooked is retail merchandising.

For example, if your goal is to be "friendly and helpful," but your offices feature dark wood paneling and dim lighting, your retail merchandising (or lack thereof) is working counter to your brand message. If your brand promise includes "convenience," but your receptionist's desk is hidden in an unmarked corner, you're not living up to your promise.

Typically, if you are building new offices from the ground-up, incorporating retail merchandising that supports your brand isn't as challenging. However, retro-fitting existing facilities to support a new brand roll-out can often be very difficult.

The link below offers some before and after images to illustrate how retail merchandising can dramatically impact your environment while reinforcing your brand message. The presentation, includes several before and after images of Mid-Atlantic FCU as well as Bank Fund Staff FCU.

Retail Merchandising - Retrofitting

Monday, July 7, 2008

Market Trends & New Media: HP's Recent Presentation to AAF-Fort Worth

I had the pleasure of attending the AAF-Fort Worth's June luncheon presentation by Scott Berg, Worldwide Media Director for Hewlett-Packard, and I'm sharing here for those of you who might be interested.

It was a fascinating presentation, and certainly an interesting look how new media is changing the game plan (or, in some instances, the whole ball game!) when it comes to reaching consumers.

The video clip Berg used to kick-off his presentation - "Shift Happens."

And the link to Berg's presentation.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Using the “B” word

I think there are probably as many approaches to “branding” as there are brands in the marketplace today. Whether it’s building a new brand, forwarding an existing brand, or strategizing a re-brand, clients seem to have differing ideas when we gather around the conference table for branding discussions.

With many CU’s merging or changing their membership from SEG-based to community based, “branding” seems to be the word du jour. There are two important factors in the success or failure of a branding initiative.

First and foremost, it’s important for an organization to review the way it operates to ensure that internal processes and procedures are appropriate given the new brand messaging – or determine that messages should be altered in some way.

For example, don’t say you will deliver the lowest rate in town if you aren’t prepared to follow-through on that brand promise. Or, don’t say you deliver the best service in town, when your members have to negotiate a murky maze of apathetic MSR’s when the member calls with a problem or question.

A second important factor is orchestrating an exciting brand rollout. Employees must be passionate about the new brand (or re-brand), so they can generate passion in the marketplace. Every department should be involved, since branding isn't merely a marketing function, but a company-wide endeavor.

This is a biggie!

Branding is more than putting a fancy label on a product. Branding is instead the “whole package” communicated through a name, graphics, and organizational support that influences a thought-process in the mind of an audience/consumer and creates value … or lack thereof … in the mind of the consumer.

Cool graphics are nice. But if your front line person isn’t engaged, then the cool graphics aren’t going to get you anywhere.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Winning in Today's Game

It's vitally important that all of us stay in-tune with current consumer trends in our country and around the world if we are to survive as marketeers.

Are you saying "DUH?!" out loud to your computer screen at this moment?

It may seem obvious, but it's amazing when I encounter marketing professionals across industries that have a plan centered around re-dressing a marketing campaign that enjoyed some success a few years ago.

Consider this:
• The changing pace of technology

• An aging Boomer population

• The growing Hispanic population

• An increasing number of women as active consumers

• Gen Y's entering the workforce

It's a whole new ballgame with every new plan we build. As Ruth Ann Kearley says, "Yesterday's home run doesn't count in today's ballgame."

So how can we ensure marketing plans stay in step with current trends?

1. First and foremost, in my opinion, it's all about convenience.
As more and more consumers are stretched thin and continually pressed for time, they need services at their fingertips 24/7. And, as 60 million Gen Y's are coming of age, they expect (and require) accessibiity on the go.

These two trends alone point to the need for robust remote-access services for your Credit Union, as well as the need to market these services across all ages and demographics.

Consider this. According to comScore Networks, the number of U.S. online banking customers grew to nearly 40 million during fourth quarter 2005 – a 27% increase over the previous year. And that number continues to grow each year.

Also, use of online bill payment services increased 36% during the same period. And the numbers are almost equally spread -– men versus women, and across all age groups under the age of 65.

2. Trust is a big factor in choosing to bank online and then sticking with it - particularly in light of identity theft and phishing. The "trust gap" exists between Internet users who are experienced with online financial transactions and those who are not.

3. Website satisfaction is more important than you think.
In its analysis, comScore also found a strong connection between satisfaction with the banking relationship and satisfaction with the institution's website.

4. Web-based advice can pay off.
According to comScore, websites that combined money-management content with financial services ranked among the 20 most popular in the business/finance category.

Turn new trends into new opportunities.
• Today 57% of 17-23 year olds finance their own car. What about an auto promo geared to parents and teens? And consider throwing in a car inspection or gas card as an additional value incentive.

• As Boomers age, women will control 50% of the U.S. houshold wealth by 2010. Are we speaking to this demographic in our marketing of small business loans, mortgages, etcetera? And are we placing the marketing messages in the appropriate places to speak to women?

• From 1995 to 2005, there has been an 81% increase in Hispanic homeownership. And self-employment by Latinos grew 41% from 2000 to 2004. These numbers are continuing to increase. Are you reaching out to your local hispanic community with the loans and services they need?

• We are so bombarded with advertising in our daily lives, that it's difficult for messages to breakthrough the clutter. It has been suggested that product and place will trump price and promotion as we move forward. What does that mean?
A few solutions might be to think about creative ways to bundle accounts and services for teens, look for new channels of communication (maybe a blog!), and look for opportunities to add value (green accounts and services?). We have to continue to be innovative in our product development. We can't rest on yesterday's home run!