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Marketing Action Plan: Have a Plan to Implement Your Ideas

Marketing Plan Image

It is important to create a marketing plan that supports your Credit Union’s overall strategic goals. You might be focusing more on gaining new memberships rather than on new loans. Or you might find you need to take an agile approach to your planning. The key is to have a plan so you know how you are going to achieve your goals with actionable items.

 

January and February

Mortgages. People start shopping well before they every purchase, begin your mortgage campaign in December or January on through the decision process. Let us help you create an engaging mortgage campaign that will stand out.

Checking and Savings. Money goals are often found in the list of popular New Year’s resolutions, typically some form of spending less or saving more. Position your checking and savings account products to reach the consumer while they are looking to increase their savings or searching for that perfect low-fee checking account. General membership promotions for those looking to switch financial institutions might be beneficial during this time too.

 

March and April

Vacation/Personal Loan  or Credit Cards. Spring is when the weather starts to warm up and when most consumers start planning their summer and fall vacations. This is a great time to offer vacation loans (personal or credit cards) that will help your members pay for their dream vacation, a trip to Disney or more. March and April are very popular wedding months, a loan or credit card could help pay for a honeymoon.

IRAs.  March and April is also tax season. Promoting your IRA products, their benefits, and their tax-deductible contributions will help you generate more accounts or deposits during the busy tax season.

 

May and June

Auto Loans. Ahhh summer, May and June mark the end of the school and the beginning of long days and warm nights.  Cruising to the beach or your favorite summer spot in a new car is a welcomed thought. Begin your auto loan campaign in the summer to capitalize on increased auto sales. Boat and RV Loans are also popular during this time, tying in these will allow you to reach a diverse audience.

Credit Cards. There is more travel being done in the summer months, having a credit card to travel with is nice to have for transactions, emergencies, rewards and more. Promoting your credit cards, especially if you offer one with rewards or travel perks will be beneficial. Let us help you gain more credit card users. Ask us about creating a credit card campaign that will generate the best results.

 

July and August

Student Banking. July and August are when the focus turns to prep for the new school year, parents and students alike. Whether your financial institutions have your own student loan product or have a partnership with a major student loan partner this is the best time to begin market this type of products. Also, encouraging the use of other products such as a HELOC (home equity line of credit) or personal loan for school expenses will prove to be beneficial this time of year as well.

Don’t just concentrate on loan products, deposit products tailored for students are also good products to include in your marketing messaging. Getting more members to sign up for student checking before they head off to college will help engage younger demographics and position them to engage with you for years to come.

 

September and October

Holiday Loans. So much of fall is focused on the holiday season, use this to your benefit and align your messaging. Holiday decorating and advertising seems to happen earlier and earlier each year. Marketing holiday specific loans or personal loans to help your members pay for the holidays or a holiday vacation might prove to provide a good return on investment.

Auto Loans. Auto sales tend to see a small spike during the months of September and October. Typically, during this time, dealers and manufacturers are looking to move the previous year’s models to make way for the new year models. When your members are purchasing during this time, make sure they are financing with you. Need help creating an auto loan campaign that gets real results? Let us know, we’d be happy to help.

 

November and December

Credit Cards. Holiday shopping is in full swing during the months of November and December. Give shoppers the perfect credit card to buy all their presents. Cash back, rewards, or even low rate or 0% offers will be beneficial in gaining new credit card users.  Don’t forget to encourage usage among your current credit card holders.

Heaters, furnaces, and other home appliances tend to have a way of breaking down at the most inopportune times, like just before all your relatives are due to be in for the holidays. A HELOC might just be just the thing that saves the day and provides the funds needed to make the repairs and replacements.

 

Whether you want a consultation about an upcoming campaign, need a marketing plan developed, or a great campaign we have a solution for you. Contact us today at connect@epicmc2.com.

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Know How To Be Prepared For Any Emergency Or Crisis

emergency communication

As much as we’d like to avoid them, sometimes mother nature and circumstances have different plans when it comes to an emergency, crisis, or natural disaster. As we are prepping and watching many others prep for a potential hurricane impact, we can’t help think about the preparation, marketing, and communication for this and other types of emergencies. Does your business or credit union have a plan? Do you know how to communicate with your members or customers, as well as your staff in the event of a natural disaster or another type of crisis?

Unfortunately, we’ve dealt with many natural disasters and emergencies over the years, both internally for our company Epic and as the marketing firm for many organizations and credit unions. In our experience, we cannot stress enough the importance of being responsive and communicative during a crisis situation. How a company responds and reacts to a situation can be more important than the crisis itself.

During any crisis situation communication is key – every stakeholder needs (and wants) to be in-the-know. This means your marketing and communications team needs to be prepared to handle any situation that could arise. Communicate before (if you have the option), during, and after any situation. Communicate what you are doing to prepare for a natural disaster, how you are going to take care of your employees, how you will be able to still serve your members or customers. If it is a different type of crisis like a PR crisis, communicate how you are working to resolve the situation. The key is to be as open as you can be and to provide your stakeholders with as much information as possible.

Be sure to have a plan and know what to do when disaster hits. After you create the plan, test it – things can change and testing could show gaps in the plan. Do you have backup communication if cell towers are unavailable such as social media, email or other types of message applications? Be prepared and know what your team and your business need in order to stay on top of any situation.

We’ve made sure we can be there to support our operations as well as be there to serve our clients. Whether it is updating websites, posting to social media, or any other types of communication we have the capability to serve during emergency events. Our experience has allowed us to refine our process and change what’s needed to always be available, even when city services aren’t.

Marketers and communications specialists for credit unions and other organization need to be fully prepared to protect credit union, employee and business interests in emergency situations. Create a plan that works for your business or credit union. Having a plan will help you respond to the unexpected better. If you have any questions or need help developing a plan give us a call or email us at connect@epicmc2.com we’d be happy to help.

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What is integrated marketing?

Integrated MarketingThe landscape and dynamics of marketing have been changing rapidly. With the introduction of digital marketing some years ago now, there has been an increase in the amount of technology and tools that are available. Additionally, the marketing space has become more crowded. A company can no longer just put out some print ads and sit back and wait.

To have optimal results when developing marketing campaigns, it is best to use an integrated approach.

Today we’ve seen a shift in marketing towards more digital mediums. This is not a problem for millennials and younger generations who have been raised in a digital age, but digital marketing may not work as well for other demographics. There is a need for a blended approach as consumers still want variety.

An integrated marketing campaign essentially means to combine communication mediums for a unified and multi-channel approach. Mediums can consist of email, billboards, print, radio, public relations, and digital to name a few – combining traditional with digital marketing. A fully integrated campaign should deliver the same experience and messaging across the different channels.

For example, if you plan on sending a direct mail piece include follow up emails and digital ads to deliver the same message. This will reinforce the messaging and make sure that your content reaches your desired audience. An integrated marketing approach will ensure that all messaging and communication strategies are consistent and centered on the customer.

Need help with your integrated marketing campaign? Let us know, we’d be happy to help.

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Developing Your Social Media Strategy

Social Media

Social media can be a powerful tool and help you engage with and grow your audience. You’ll need a strategy to help you manage and maintain your social media presence. Engagement is key when it comes to social media. Additionally, each social media network you choose to be active on serves a purpose for your business and your business’s growth.

 

Identify your goals and objectives.

First and most importantly, identify your goals and objectives. What are you hoping to get out of your social media networks? How do you want to utilize them? What do you want to accomplish? Make sure you know how each platform works and know the audience for each platform. For example, LinkedIn has a different audience and purpose than Instagram. So you would not want to post the same thing on LinkedIn as you do on Instagram.

 

Create a calendar and post regularly.

When getting started, you’ll need to have a plan to post regularly. You’ll also need to decide what to post about. Create a social media calendar, and be sure to add all of your upcoming events, blog posts, and other important information. This will help you stay organized and build a strategy around each of your social media accounts. Use a social media management platform such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social to help you schedule posts ahead of time. Here at Epic, we use Sprout Social to help us manage our social media accounts.

Create a plan and calendar that works for you and brings in more engaged followers. Once you have one, stick to it and do what is working more often. If you find something that works really well, stick to it and create more posts like it.

 

Understand your audience.

Understanding what your audience needs will help you be able to interact with them better. Knowing what they want to read about and what they believe in will help you understand what type of posts they will most likely react to and engage with. Once you understand this, your interactions will be more productive.

Each type of business is going have different experiences on social media – for example, a credit union is going to have a completely different plan than a clothing store. Take the time to research other ways to get more likes and follows to your social media accounts. Learn everything you can about growing your social media presence for your specific market and target audience.

 

Be relatable and be human.

Social media is all about engagement and connecting with others. Let your audience see the character of your brand. You want to engage with those who post on your social media pages, so be sure you are interacting with your accounts and your audiences often. This means when someone posts something, talk back to them. Let them know you are listening to your audience on social media. Then, give them more of what they want to keep them coming back to your social media pages.

 

Produce valuable content.

Content is king. Your audience will need to see the value in interacting with your social media pages – and this comes from your content. You want to be sure that you are providing and producing the best content for your audience. Is it interesting? Is it fun? Does it provide value and answer ‘what’s in it for me’? Give your customers a reason to like and engage with your page and follow you. Having the best content will help showcase your brand.

 

Be responsive and provide great customer service.

Social media was created to be just that – social. Once you open yourself up on social media not only will you get good feedback, you also need to be prepared to handle complaints. Often, how you handle complaints publicly far outweighs how you handle praise. Respond quickly and be professional – even if they aren’t. Acknowledge their complaint and answer their questions. Try to go above and beyond to resolve any issues. Remember, your audience is watching.

 

Get training.

We have partnered with the University of Delaware to teach social media marketing. We’ve always taken the approach of educating our clients about different marketing channels, including social media. If you can’t take a classroom course, there are a lot of resources for courses online. Being a social media expert means being a lifelong learner due to the constant evolution of the social media climate.

 

Remember social media is a powerful tool. It can help you engage with your audience and better understand them. Make sure you have a plan and stick to it. Social media requires continuous effort and engagement to be effective. If you have questions or need help with your social media strategy, contact us today at connect@epicmc2.com.

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Why Developing Personas is Important for Your Marketing Efforts

Mike Millenial Image

What are personas or buyer personas? Personas are fictional representations of your customers or members. Personas are key in helping companies better understand their customers. To create effective targeted messages you need to know your audience. Personas help paint a picture of who your audience is, what products they are most likely to use, and how they like to interact with you. This makes it easier for you to tailor your content, messaging, and create products specific to the needs of your target audience.

Personas can be an excellent tool that can be integrated throughout your marketing especially in your digital initiatives. And help lay a foundation for better user experience and personalization. They help create personalization, which enables you to create specific targeted messaging for different segments of your audience. Personas can also help you pair the right product and messaging to the right customer. Additionally, personas can help you create a better marketing plan.

When developing your personas start with 3-5 key groups of your current customer or audience base. Focus on the major needs and expectations of each segment, then define their goals. Knowing what your audience’s goals are will help you align products and services that will help them achieve those goals. Take the time to develop your personas and represent your audience well.

Example Persona

Name: Mike Millennial
Gender: Male
Age: 28
Relationship status: most likely in a relationship or newly married
Goals: Pay down student debt and save for his first house
Pain points: he finds it difficult to save money while paying down debt
Key Products/Interests: debt consolidation, savings tools, convenience services
Preferred Communication: text and email, will research products online before making a decision

Though your persona is a fictional character, it represents real people who share similar traits. By giving a name to a specific persona, you make it much easier for people inside your organization to understand the issues facing the defined personas. You also provide insight on how to potentially solve these issues. All of the defined traits that these personas possess are based on trends and patterns collected by doing research.

By developing personas you will gain knowledge and understanding of target audience. With this knowledge, you will be able to become more audience focused. Your audience goals and needs will become clear allowing them to be a focal point for your efforts. You will also be able to improve the quality and effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Need assistance developing your personas? We’d be happy to help. Contact us at connect@epicmc2.com.

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How to Create Compelling Subject Lines

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In today’s highly digital environment, one’s email inbox is constantly full of emails all competing for the recipient’s time and attention. So how do you make your email stand out and be one that will be opened, maybe even read, rather than immediately deleted or skipped over?

The majority of people spend a mere second to determine if the email is something they want to read or discard. If the subject line isn’t captivating or compelling enough it will get skipped over, even though the email may have valuable information for them. Research shows that 47% of recipients open email based on the subject line alone. That one-line description is your first and only shot at connecting with your audience.

There are many guidelines that you can follow when crafting your subject lines. The tactics for developing impactful subject lines vary, but we’ve gathered the guidelines that can help improve your email marketing results.

 

Keep it short.

There are several reasons to keep the subject line short, for one, you need to be able to quickly grab your audience’s attention.

Another reason is due to a large number of emails that are opened on mobile devices. Subject lines will get cut off if they’re too long. Look at your subject lines and remove any fluff words or words that matter less and don’t contribute to the message. Remove words like ‘newsletter’ as these may actually decrease your open rate.

 

Add personalization.

Personalize your subject lines. Use the name of the recipient or location. When you use personalization it adds a sense of rapport, especially when a name is used. Research has shown that emails that included a recipient’s first name in the subject line had higher open and click-through rates than emails that did not. (Read more about adding personalization to your marketing strategy.)

 

Make it interesting.

Your subject line should be interesting and unique. Tell the recipient what’s inside your email in an interesting way that will capture their attention. Pose a compelling question, provide a call to action, or incentivize them to learn more by opening the email.

 

Provide value and invoke trust.

As with most marketing, email marketing should include a value proposition. The subject line should communicate the value of the email and how it will benefit your audience. Be sure to be convincing and provide information on how it will benefit their lives or their business.

While your brand should emit an element of trust, trustworthiness should be a priority when sending emails. Your email content should match your subject line. Don’t make false promises.

 

Lastly, test out your subject lines. Your audience may respond better to “Sally, your exclusive offer awaits!”  than “Get your exclusive offer today!”. Test your subject lines by doing an A/B split and see which gets a better result. With A/B testing you can try out different versions of subject lines.

 

We hope these guidelines will help you formulate your next subject line. If you need assistance with your subject lines and your email marketing, contact us at connect@epicmc2.com. We’d be happy to help.

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Website Redesign: Things to Know for Your Next Website Redesign Project

website redesign

Research and proper planning can go a long way in preparing you for your next website redesign. We’ve gathered a few tips to help you get started and hopefully make things a little less stressful.

 

Audit Your Current Site

To prepare for your upcoming website redesign, do an audit of your current site. It is best to have a good understanding of what is currently on your website and be able to answer questions like What is the most popular content/pages? What is most searched for by your users? Knowing what pages your audience frequents, what is missing and what is popular, you’ll have a better understanding of what content needs to be updated and added.

If you have Google Analytics for your current site, this information can be used to help you better understand how your audience interacts with your website. This insight will prove to be quite valuable in identifying content and other aspects of your website your users want most.

 

Set Goals

Your website can be the first interaction potential customers have with your brand. What type of first impression do you want to make? A good one, if not a great one, we’re sure. Providing a great user experience will help to create a great first impression. In order to do this, you’ll need to have outlined clear goals for your website.

You’ll need to identify what type of interaction you want on your website, whether you want to generate leads, and how you will define conversions. (A conversion is a desired action performed by your users, i.e. sign up for a newsletter or apply for a loan.) Your website should educate and inform your visitors. Information should be easily obtained. However, if you don’t want a static brochure-like website, it is important that interaction can be done just as easily as gathering information.

Knowing your goals before you start redesigning your site, will help you have a clear plan and make better design and content choices.

 

Understand Your Audience

Understanding your audience is a key component of providing a great user experience. Knowing what your audience wants and what problems they need solved, as well as how they prefer to communicate and interact with you, will help guide you through the design process. Understand your user and understand the journey they take when deciding on your products and services.

Knowing your users and their buying journey will help you identify gaps. Once you know your gaps, you can begin plan on how to correct and make adjustments for your new website. This will allow for your redesign to generate real results.

 

These are just a few tips to help you be better prepared for your next website redesign. Need help redesigning your website? Let our website experts help. Contact us today at connect@epicmc2.com. 

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How to Make Your Brand Stand Out from the Crowd

Standout

Today’s brands have to have great benefits, provide value, and most importantly be unique. Considering how crowded the landscape is in any industry these days, it is especially crowded in the financial sector. Other credit unions and other banks offer the same or similar products and services that you do.  How can you stand out from the crowd?

 

Identity

Create a brand identity that is unique and that will resonate with your audience. Define what your brand will stand for, what you are best at, and how you can fill the gaps in your market.  Are you really great at helping small businesses? Great, this is an excellent platform you can stand on and build upon. Your brand identity needs to be able to stand up against your competition, as well as stand out from the crowd.  If you don’t have a clear understanding of your identity it will be very hard to market yourself to your ideal audience. Know what makes you different and incorporate it into your brand.

 

Connection

Your brand is the perception of your credit union in the eyes of the communities and members you serve. How your audience perceives your brand is perhaps one of the most important aspects of growing and maintaining your credit union. It is important to have a deep understanding of your audience and to connect with them. Develop a brand voice and tone that speaks directly to your audience. If you can, you should give your audience (your members) something that they can’t get anywhere else.

 

Value Proposition and Benefits

When marketing your brand, don’t just focus on your products and services. What does your brand do well that others don’t? Focus and double down on your strengths.  Other institutions offer the same or similar products and service that you do. Instead, focus on how your products and services can benefit your members and your community. How do you provide value to your members? Address common pain points consumers have with your products and services.

 

Consistency

Be consistent. I repeat, be consistent. As said earlier your brand mostly relies on the perception your audience has of your brand and credit union. Being consistent in your messaging, positioning, values, and identity will help you establish and develop trust and loyalty. Create a brand guide or style guide that outlines how your brand should be portrayed.  Pay attention to the details. Your emails to members, your website, and other forms of communication should all reflect your brand. Consistency also reflects stability. Consumers want to see stability, especially when it comes to choosing a financial institution.

 

All in all, it is important to stay true to your brand and be as unique as possible. If you have questions about branding, creating value propositions, or other brand elements, we’d love to help. Contact us at connect@epicmc2.com.

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Google Knowledge Panel: What You Need to Know

Google Knowledge Panel

Have you done any searches online lately? We’re sure you’ve noticed that just below the top few results, there’s a big square with three suggestions of local businesses that are relevant to your search.  The first few results are always paid ads from pay-per-click campaigns. The three results are organic search results that Google feels are most relevant.  The recommended results from the “Knowledge Panel” drive a lot of traffic and sales for these companies.  

Unlike paid search, you can’t do anything, in particular, to make sure your company is featured in here. The results come from the Google Knowledge Graph, and that’s based on your local search engine optimization.

 

So what you can you do to improve your online presence?

A key part of local search optimization is making sure your free Google My Business account is verified, has accurate information, and has recently updated information about your business, including pictures. The Google My Business information seems to act like an API (Application Programming Interface). An API is a little piece of software that feeds information directly into the knowledge graph, and into the knowledge panel.

 

How critical is it, anyway?

We know you’re thinking – maybe that’s one more thing I just don’t want to worry about right now. How critical is it, anyway? What are people searching for on their phones and tablets? In early 2017, Hitwise did a comprehensive report of consumer insights. For the financial services industry they stated:

“Given the sensitive nature and importance of online banking, this industry is one of the few where the majority of searches still originate on desktop devices. In fact, according to our analysis, only 39% of online searches driving a visit to a banking or finance site originate on a smartphone or tablet. However, there are still plenty of financial topics where mobile is now the go-to device when seeking specific information. For instance, financial searches mentioning “ATM” or “near me” originate on a mobile device 84% and 83% of the time, respectively. And while it’s intuitive that such location-based searches would skew mobile, it may come as a surprise that searches for “15-year” and “30-year mortgage” are also overwhelmingly mobile (73% of such searches are initiated on a mobile device). So are “interest rate” (65% mobile) and “mortgage calculator” (55% mobile) searches, indicating that today’s would-be new home buyers begin their journey to home ownership on a smartphone. “

 

How does this relate to your credit union?

This tells us that for many of the products credit unions (or any business) offer, having a good, local mobile search optimization may be critical to becoming part of a potential customer/new member’s decision set.

Additionally, the Google Knowledge Panel is the eye-catching result in the middle of the page. The panels takes up almost the whole screen on a mobile device, before you scroll down to other organic search results. Most consumers click on the first most relevant thing they see. And most don’t scroll through a couple of pages of Google search results before picking one, they pick the first one that looks good.  If they don’t like that one, or the site takes too long to load, they may choose the second or third result. Rarely do people go past the first page. 

 

Having good search optimization, including a speedy website load time and having up to date, accurate information in Google My Business is simply the starting point to giving your credit union every chance of winning new customers through online search. Feeding the Google Knowledge Panel as much information as possible through Google My Business – and keeping it up to date – is the best way to make sure your credit union shows up when someone is looking for a new loan, an ATM or another service you offer. It’s the best way to get new customers outside of paid advertising, and it helps Google work for you.

 

If you need help setting up your Google My Business account or need more information about local search optimization, contact us at connect@epicmc2.com.  We want to make sure you are found online and earn the local business you deserve.

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Social Media Marketing Education Programs

Social Media Education

We are happy to announce our very own CEO, Nancy Dibert, has partnered with the University of Delaware Professional and Continuing Studies to teach Social Media Marketing.

UD’s Social Media Marketing program now includes two new powerful programs: Fundamentals of Social Media Marketing and Advanced Social Media Marketing for Business. These programs will provide broad and deep coverage of in-demand social media marketing skills, including social media monitoring and listening, audience engagement, content curation, strategic planning, campaign execution, paid placement, measuring results and ROI and more.

Nancy’s deep understanding of social media and social media marketing is vast, expanding to a multitude of platforms, with a long list of proven results for many projects and clients. Being a social media expert means being a lifelong learner due to the constant evolution of the social media climate. We’ve always taken the approach of educating our clients about different marketing channels, including social media; partnering with University of Delaware for these programs just makes sense – it is what we do everyday. We hope you join us in one of our upcoming classes.

Learn more about the programs and register at http://www.pcs.udel.edu/socialmedia/ or download the flyer.

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