By Alicia Disantis, Brand Manager
At this moment, you might feel really uneasy being a marketer. While most credit unions’ operational departments are firing on all cylinders and focusing on ways to maintain “business as usual” (or as close to it as possible), marketing seems, well, redundant? Unneeded? Like the artsy kid at the science fair? I feel your pain, and I have gathered some ideas, inspiration and tips on what you can do right now to connect with your membership, keep your brain occupied while projects are put on hold, and assist your credit union in this challenging time.
Ways to Connect with Your Membership
If you are anxious and stressed, you better believe your membership is too. Now is the time for you to step up and connect on a transparent, emotional level and nix cold professionalism. Indeed, if you do it right, you’ll connect with them in powerful and memorable ways that will last a lifetime. Credit unions are in a unique position, I’d argue more than almost any other industry, to serve as a place of information, kindness, and stability right now. Our history is rooted in community and safety – just look to our Credit Union Man mascot from the Great Depression era. Hard times – Sickness – Financial Distress…sound familiar?
Cater your message to your brand voice and personality. Make a case for the whole team to get involved; this can be a team building and morale-boosting exercise for everyone.
Don’t forget, in a time like this, your medium doesn’t have to be polished. New to making a video on your phone? No problem. Never been filmed before and the script is a little wobbly? Who cares? Photo editing skills not perfect? Whose are?
1. Share a Little Humor
Don’t be afraid to use humor in times of hardship. Studies show that those who see humor in the darkest situations have an incredible ability to overcome trauma. “It is well-known that humour, more than anything else in the human make-up, can afford an aloofness and an ability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds,” wrote Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning, 1946. Frankl was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp and author of one of the most profound books of the modern era. And a lighter example: Mel Brooks. “Humor is just another defense against the universe.”
Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger’s delightful PSA on social distancing. Sitting at home with his pet miniature donkey, Lulu, and miniature horse, Whiskey, he tells us, “We don’t go out, we don’t go to restaurants, we don’t do anything like that anymore. We just eat with Whiskey and Lulu. We have a good time.”
The options are only bound by your creativity here. Get the executive management team involved. Much of your staff working from home? Launch a “working from home” video series that dips into the lives of your team. Remember, now is the time to let your guard down and build rapport (when you normally wouldn’t feel comfortable allowing the world a glimpse into your personal life) and show your members how you are staying strong in the face of adversity. Maybe you are only offering drive up service? Post some photos from “Life in the Drive Up: a Soap Opera”.
Check out this “terrible joke” Tweet from Ascentra CU:
— Ascentra CreditUnion (@ascentra) March 19, 2020
2. Be Quirky
Like most non-essential establishments, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago is closed. Shedd, one of the most renowned zoological establishments in the world, is taking advantage of the closure and chronicling a pair of penguin’s field trip through the aquarium to meet other animals. Via Twitter, they pepper in various facts about the animals and it makes for an informative, weird, and wholly addicting marketing strategy.
The adventure continues! ??
This morning, Edward and Annie explored Shedd’s rotunda. They are a bonded pair of rockhopper penguins, which means they are together for nesting season. Springtime is nesting season for penguins at Shedd, and this year is no different! (1/3) ? pic.twitter.com/VdxN3oQAfe
— Shedd Aquarium (@shedd_aquarium) March 16, 2020
Other zoos are catching on: The Oregon zoo took a baby elephant on a trip around the zoo. How can you not smile at this photo of her interacting with a sea lion?
Penguins in the Amazon?! ??
Some of the penguins went on a field trip to meet other animals at Shedd. Wellington seemed most interested in the fishes in Amazon Rising! The black-barred silver dollars also seemed interested in their unusual visitor. pic.twitter.com/KgYWsp5VQD
— Shedd Aquarium (@shedd_aquarium) March 15, 2020
If your region isn’t under a shelter in place at the time of writing this, how about a spooky, abandoned tour of the branch? Or attach a Go Pro to your pup and let him roam the empty office for a unique perspective. Let’s face it: we are all weird. Tap into your inner weirdness and create something unique.
3. Make a Spotify Playlist
An offbeat way to connect with your members is to make a Coronavirus or quarantine Spotify playlist. Ask employees to chip in one song each to illustrate how they are feeling right now. You’ll surely have an unusual and easily shareable resource to post on social media.
Checkout what some businesses have done here:
4. Show Off Your Team
I love what eco and ethics-conscious clothing company, Everlane, has done with their email strategy in the wake of this environment. Shortly after businesses began shutting down the second week of March, I received an email notifying customers that they too are closing stores and working remotely. They included this photo:
The message and image are simple. We are all still here, adjusting, and we are a team. If much of your team is working remotely, while not include a screenshot of your team meetings?
Ways to Stay Busy
1. Go Through Old Files
If you are anything like most creative people I know (including myself), file organization can tend to get…out of hand. Especially if I am immersed in a project, there is zero consideration for organization. Once the project is over, dozens of versions are floating around, assets named bizarre things, and files within files within files lurk in corners.
Now is the time to clean it up! Go through old resources, organize and declutter. It’s unlikely you’ll have another opportunity quite like this.
Pay special attention to aging stock photos. If they look outdated to you (smartphones and laptops are a dead giveaway), they will to your membership too. Delete them and move on.
2. Take Some Free Training
One incredible thing that has come from this pandemic is the sheer wealth of free training that has been made available. If you are eager to learn a skill that has been on the backburner or expand your professional knowledge on a subject, you won’t have much trouble finding a free course – many of which are offered by Ivy League universities.
I’ve compiled a list below.
450 Ivy League courses you can take online right now for free
MasterClass is launching free, live Q&A sessions with big shots in their respective industries
Yale University is offering their most popular class for free: The Science of Well-being
Also, don’t forget that we here at CU Service Network offer training for our clients. From compliance to shared branching, we’ve created dozens of virtual classes, many of which provide testing and certifications. Contact us at email@example.com to learn more.
And while you are at it, check out our Credit Union University, filled with case studies, whitepapers and articles for marketers, compliance officers, accountants and more. Visit the University here.
With great challenges come great opportunities. Look at your current situation as a rare opportunity to connect with your membership on a deep level and grow your skill set as a marketer. What are you doing to stay productive during this pandemic? Share in the comments below.