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!