Use Marketing Personas to Customize Credit Union Communications

Marketing personas help you know the people in your neighborhood.

Crafting strong marketing personas for your credit union could change the way you communicate. Through this marketing and storytelling tool, you can make your communications more personalized, detailed, and effective. You can also ensure the right communications end up in the right inbox.

Would you ever include a recent graduate in a campaign around getting ready for retirement?

Does it make sense to market homeownership to a teen with a youth checking account?

Should you invite your middle-aged couples to learn more about paying off student debt?

When you don’t fully understand or track who is in your audience, messy marketing can happen. With marketing personas, you can illustrate the backgrounds, hopes, and financial dreams of the people in your credit union audience. Once you understand them and their needs, you can craft specific marketing that makes sense for them. Ultimately, it will make your marketing more meaningful to your members and more effective internally.

Before getting started on your marketing personas, however, brush up on your mission and values as an organization. You must be confident as an organization in who you are in order to effectively identify who you serve, and who you want to serve. Identify your credit union voice and niche. What is your value proposition to your audience? Why do people want to be part of your audience? This will help you direct your research and next steps.

Think Who Not What

First, it’s important to cover exactly what is a marketing persona, which are sometimes also known as buyer or audience personas. But beyond the “what” of the definition, try to focus on the “who” behind your personas. After all, this is about putting people first.

So, what is a marketing persona? A marketing persona is a fictional profile of a person in your organization’s audience. Additionally, for your marketing persona strategy to be effective, you will need more than one persona. Aim to create three to five detailed marketing personas for your organization to understand the range of unique characters that make up your community. Data from your current audience members, potential audience members, as well as market research for your industry and area overall will help you determine personas.

But once you have the data, your storytelling through marketing personas will help bring your profiles to life. Give your personas names, backgrounds, challenges, and dreams. A thoughtfully crafted marketing persona will be based on demographics as well as values and goals. When creating marketing personas for your credit union, you will want to ask questions like:

  • Where is this person in their financial journey?
  • What are their pride points and challenges?
  • How can my organization help them reach their goals?

Thankfully, there are handy marketing persona builders available online through websites like Hubspot and Hootsuite. Through assigning specific personas to your stakeholders, you will be able to offer personal, customized communications. Your marketing personas are a tool—but in a way they are also the real people at your credit union.

Build a Story for Your Personas

Think of marketing personas as a suite of profiles that offer insights into your key groups. For example, at your credit union, some potential marketing personas could be a:

  • Teen with a youth checking account who is planning for college
  • Recent graduate working her first job in the healthcare industry
  • Established worker, recently married and looking to be a homeowner
  • Parent who is working, caring for children and older relative
  • Retirees thinking about downsizing or helping a younger family member

At first glance, these marketing personas quickly show different stages of life. Naturally, grouping people by age is a solid starting point for building marketing personas, especially for a credit union. However, these quick profiles also show ways to get at a bigger story. At your credit union, for example, how might marketing to a recent graduate be different from a retiree?

When creating your actual marketing personas, you will also want to be as specific as possible. Your profiles should be longer than quick bullet points. Planning on this deep level will help your credit union speak to members now and look ahead to the future. Also, don’t be afraid to focus on your ideal credit union members. Marketing personas are important for talking with existing audiences as well as attracting new ones. Some people might not be a good fit for your credit union and that’s okay! So, don’t use your time dreaming up ways to contact or understand them if you don’t need to.

Additionally, when it comes to marketing and communications, you will want to think about where your people are, digitally and physically. How do they like to be communicated with? What platforms and channels are they using? Even though creating the profiles is work, marketing personas should ultimately help make your communications strategy easier. Through your marketing personas, your credit union should have insights into next steps. Want to start a campaign to first-time homebuyers? Check your personas to consider their preferred messaging.

Go Back to the Drawing Board

You have your suite of marketing personas. Now what? It’s time to update them.

That’s right—just as the people of your credit union are constantly evolving, so should your personas. Time moves forward, goals are met or change, and outside factors shape communications and expectations. Consider how the coronavirus pandemic abruptly changed personal and financial goals for your members. Ensure your marketing personas grow with your credit union members.

To keep your marketing personas top of mind, consider creating mini versions of certain profiles and keeping them at your desk. That way, you never lose sight of who you are talking to and why. Introduce your personas to your staff and include their profiles in training sessions. Then, with your team, plan regular check ins. Each quarter, ask what’s new or different with your personas. Annually, do a bigger refresh to match personas to your organization’s overall goals too. For some profiles, especially those with steady lifestyles, it could be not much. Others might be in flux more often. Once your personas are established, use them in your marketing campaigns—create campaigns specifically around each persona.

Remember that one of the greatest services you can do is listen to your audiences and pay attention. Keeping a focus on your people and being ready to respond to their needs and wants will ensure your communications are always spot on.

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