Does Your Credit Union Have a ButterFace?

Is your credit union web site a butterface?Ok, in this age of enlightenment, this may be a little sexist. For those who do not know the male vernacular of which I speak, there is a simple definition of “ButterFace” best illustrated when in use. So as not to completely repulse our female readers with the juvenile inner workings of the male mind, simply say out loud:

“That girl has a nice body, ButterFace….”

Get the picture?

Tony! Why are you breaking the Bro Code man?

Ok, I know that’s not nice. I have to believe that women have something similar for men that our agents inside have yet to send out in coded message. However, we will crack your code. It is only a matter of time.

Anyway, I digress.

So what the hell are you talking about anyway?

Websites. Specifically credit union websites. More specifically BAD credit union websites. Yes, the technical equivelence of a ButterFace.

“Gee, it seems like a really cool credit union, ButterFace…”

Yep, thats what they say behind your back.

They do, you know. They really do.
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Why did your credit union reject me?

Ok, so why ask the question right? Credit unions don’t reject relationships with potential members. Or do they?

credit-union-twitterI was rejected… on Twitter.

I know, I was surprised too!

Lets get the psychology out of the way first.

Hello, my name is Tony Mannor of Andermahr & Company – The Credit Union Marketing Agency. I am a credit union vendor.

I guess I have to come to terms with that.  I never really saw myself as a vendor. You may giggle at my naivety, but it is true. I am not a “VENDOR” which to me sounds like the evil ruler of a planet far away with robot assassins that call you while you are trying to enjoy your lunch with hard sell tactics that force you to contemplate suicide by stapler.

All Hail The Evil Vendor of Scumdar!

I am not a “VENDOR” – I am a credit union marketing guy. Well, ok, brass tacks time – I am a marketing and business guy who uses my marketing, design and business superpowers for good. I brought those skills to the credit union world. I’m not dishonest or scummy or “hard sell”. Actually, that is why I set up this blog. I just want to help out some folks if I can – mainly credit unions that may not be able to afford to hire us. I know that makes me sound like I wear overalls, have a cowlick with a big ol’ “awe shucks ma’am” grin, but that is who I am. I actually get a kick out of helping others be successful and that is how I live my life.

So that being my point of perspective, let me tell you about my rejection.
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Caution: Social Media Cuts Both Ways

So, you HAVE heard about the Dominoes video right?

dominoes-nose-cheeseTwo employees thought it would be funny to video themselves doing some pretty disgusting stuff to customer food (though they later claim that the food never actually made it out). This has made rnational news and has, undoubtedly, cost Dominoes a TON of money.

Right, ok the employees are morons. Not only did they conspire to do it, then do it, then video tape it while the manager was in the office “reading the paper” – they posted it on YouTube! YouTube quickly pulled the video but some crafty bloggers had already downloaded the video and posted it to their own sites. Remember, what gets on the internet stays on the internet. It is like the cosmic version of a Roach Motel.

But Tony, I thought you were PRO Social Media?!?

Social media is like air. Whether I am for it or against it – it is here and we all use it and inevitably we all need it (even those of you who think you don’t you really do).

What I am saying is the same as I have been saying for 2 years. WATCH YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION!

There are companies that specialize in this. They charge their clients millions to make sure bad things arent being said about them online. Google “Reputation Management” and look at the 19 million references. It is amazing. But it shows that it is a cost of doing business in todays social media integrated landscape.

Right… so what do we do about it?
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Hey Credit Union! Show me you’re nuts!

Ahhh, double entendres and a homophones. A great, yet controversial way to get attention.

Before you ask if it works, you are already reading what is going to happen next…right? So give me a little credit for knowing my target market. You may not like it, but I have your attention.

First, this is not a post about homophones (two words that sound the same but have different meanings i.e. Your and You’re).

It is a post about taking your advertising (not marketing) to the next level of “crazy”, to create free press and impact and a sort of extension of my last post.

To be true to the subject matter, I will leapfrog over my current posting style (which is pretty similar to my speaking style – under the guise of being professional… well, sort of professional) into a full fledged, no-holds-barred way of speaking that is truer to how I actually speak and how I am. I am a regular guy. As I type this out, I am sitting at my desk, listening to some radio station playing a song by someone I don’t know. I am wearing flip flops, a black t-shirt and a pair of green shorts. It is 70 degrees in California right now and I have the back door to my office open so I can see the world drift by on a spring breeze. You are going to get the unabridged and un-suited “Tony Mannor – Credit Union Marketing Professional”.

In other words, I am going to be honest about who I am. I hope you can take it.

When is it ok to “come out the box”?

I’m not saying you need to leap out of the box in biker shorts and a mesh tank top screaming “I’m Heeeeeeeeere!” and flailing your arms and squealing in joy and exuberance.

I am saying that you need to shrug off the auspices of the corporate culture that you have adopted for a more “every person” sort of persona who we all are when we are “off hours”. Come on folks, we are all PEOPLE. We don’t wear a suit to bed (unless you are Barney Stinson and wear suit-jammies to bed).

When you get off work, what is the first thing you want to do? Take off your shoes! Some people do it in the car, some wait until they get home. Hopefully, if I am giving you a ride home, you opt for the latter. But maybe you should take your shoes off when considering your next advertising campaign. Maybe you will be less afraid to try something a little looser, something a little more freeing.
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Hello, Our Members are Morons.


I seriously thought about making a t-shirt that said this to hand out during concept presentations.


Because I was tired of hearing “I think it is great, very clever, but I don’t think our members will ‘get it’”.

I have always wanted to say “Well, that is because they are obviouly morons.”

Not because I thought it was true, I obviously don’t. I want to say that because I really want the person who makes that comment, to own what they were saying. They were saying their members were stupid. Too stupid to get a moderately clever marketing tactic or message.

This is more common than you might think. Now an argument might be made that this was a clients polite way of saying “we really don’t like the concept, creative or the way you dress you weird redheaded guy.” But believe me, 99% of the credit unions I have dealt with have no problem letting you know when they don’t like your ideas (so I have heard, you know, I mean it has never really happened to me).

Nope, they really think their membership is a pack of dim sheep that need to be led to water with bright starbursts with rates in them and astrobrite paper signs.
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Suicide by Internet – Special Marketing Victims Unit

We have been watching newspaper shrinking up, consolidating and dying. Just the other day, reports came out that The San Francisco Chronicle is basically being sold for scrap.I shoulda been a cop. I make this look good.

“The Chron” has been a major paper in this area for 100 years or so. My dad used to have me run down to the 7-11 near my house every day to grab a copy of The Chron and the Wall Street Journal every day (ever hear of a subscription dad?). Now, it is in the gutter. Twitching and coughing and I don’t think the ambulance will make it in time.

Ten years ago, companies were buying up newspapers. They were making money and considered a necessary component for every business tycoons’ strategy for world domination. They were mildly profitable and “everyone reads the paper”. “But what about the internet?” they asked a few years ago. “People will never give up a folding newspaper under their arm for a computer screen dummy!” would be the obligatory response.

So why are they dying and what the hell does this have to do with credit unions?

First, as any CSI or Law and Order fan will tell you, we need to identify the cause of death.

“Lack of revenue seems to be the obvious C.O.D. detective but if you look behind the ear here, you will see something interesting. The ligature marks look like strangulation by something similar to a phone or network cord. It may have been self-inflicted.”

“I see, it looks like this may not have been a homicide after all. It looks like suicide.”

“I think you are right detective. The vic’ seems to have closed his eyes and then hung himself with the Internet. I can’t tell you why the vic’ did it or what could have been done. All I can tell you is that internet is responsible for this.”

“I think I understand what you are saying. It looks like Internet killed the Media Star.”

Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! Boom booom chickka boom…

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Marketing Triage – Credit Union Auto Loan Campaigns

Its time to start planning those auto loan campaigns! Wait….what?

Let me do some quick accounting…

YES! I think your members are just looking for just the right rate to buy that new car!

No, I don’t think that.

Credit unions have always competed with banks and dealer financing when it comes to auto loans. Since most banks can’t compete with us on rate (most of the time) and rate seems to be the basket where we are placing all of our eggs right now, Let’s take a look at what the dealerships are doing:

The dealerships are in a panic. They are laying off their service staff and sales staff. They are willing to do anything to get their inventory off their lots. They are doing everything except for one thing – re-financing auto loans

GRate Expectations

There seems to be a theory that “if only we can drop our rate low enough, members will beat a path to our door!”

That approach only sometimes works when the economy is good, why would it work now when no one is buying cars?

Basically, It won’t. It might work a little in some markets. You might make a modest ROI on your auto loan campaign. But you will not see the huge influx of loan applications that you saw 2 or 3 years ago – no matter how low the rate.

Remember this post about the marketing report from Princeton University? The basic concept was that rate wasn’t as compelling a marketing strategy as a picture of an attractive woman. Basically, you could pump up your rate a few points (make way more money) if only the picture was attractive enough. What does this mean?

1. Low rates are not as much of an incentive as we think.

2. Sex really does sell everything.

3. Marketing is important to your financial success.

Advertising your low rate will not create demand for auto loans. Marketing to your member to explain the benefits of an auto loan and how it will better their financial situation might. Identifying and fulfilling your members needs WILL create demand for your loan products. As long as you have a hot girl on the marketing piece (kidding…. well, kind of kidding).
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Credit Union Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

There is a popular quote by marketing types. It happens to be from one of the most brilliant salesman and businessmen of the 20th century. It goes:

“A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

Henry Ford said that a long time ago. It is still very true today. I had forgotten about this quote until about two weeks ago when I was speaking to a group of small business owners in Sacramento about “Marketing on a Shoestring” – something many credit unions are focusing on right now.

Many of the attendees were small to medium sized businesses that have felt the crunch of the economic times. They have seen income drop, fewer customers or fewer calls from their existing customers. Something I am sure that we can all appreciate and understand.

When I kicked up the discussion to a Q&A, I got the question “What if I don’t have enough money to do any marketing?” 

That was a hard question and one I really didnt want to answer because small business owners are emotionally attached to their businesses. But the answer was simple “Then you should consider selling your business or start looking for a partner with money”.

The look on her face nearly broke my heart.

“But, I would say that 90% of the people who tell me they have no money for marketing, do. They just dont know what options are out there for them. To them they may be thinking in the realm of two or three thousand dollars when there are two and three hundred dollar solutions out there for them.”

The same thing goes for credit unions. I have been getting phone calls from clients that either their budgets are being cut or the board is only permitting “Results oriented campaigns” which really means they want to verify ROI for their marketing dollar.

Shouldn’t we have been doing this all along?

Anyhow, whats past is water under the bridge and all that. What do you do now that you are looking at your budget and saying “What the hell am I going to do with this?” I have some ideas.
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How to pick the right agency for your credit union

You pick us!

Ok, now that that is out of the way, selecting a credit union advertising agency, marketing agency or design agency - is a tough decision for any credit union. Making the right choice will lead to trackable results for your credit union. Making the wrong agency selection will not only be a waste of your budget but also make your life miserable.

Too many credit unions take a strange approach to this super-critical decision; they may get lucky, or they may get screwed.

Being a CEO of a credit union marketing agency AND having to make this decision from the other side, here is my advice on HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT CREDIT UNION MARKETING AGENCY.

select a credit union marketing agency

Gather up the usual suspects

Pick Your Starting Line-up
Make a list of agencies to evaluate. The best source in compiling this list is referrals from colleagues or even credit union associations like MAC (The Marketing Association of Credit Unions), CUES, Everything CU and CUNA. Never grab your copy of the Yellow Pages. It is too random and a waste of time. Start with at least 5 solid and reputable agencies to investigate further, but no more than 10 otherwise it will all blur together.

Do your Background Work
Use the internet to check out the agencies on your list and eliminate any obvious klinkers. If you are looking for an agency to do your website, obviously those with a marginal site should be eliminated. Thats not saying you have to love their site, but you should be able to appreciate the effort and technologies that were used to create it. Stick with agencies that know the landscape. It eliminates some of the back and forth (that is billable) for things like disclosures, logos (EHL, NCUA) and so on.

Since you are looking at agencies that specialize in credit unions, you may want to check their client list to make sure that they dont work with a competing credit union. While this has never been an issue for us, some people feel a little wobbly on this one. The great thing is that because of computers and telephones, you can pretty much work with any agency in the country. I have clients in town that I see less than my clients in Los Angeles. Make sure each agency includes the services you need among their core competencies. The goal in this step is reduce your initial list down to three to five agencies for further consideration.

Put it in Writing
Write up your request for proposal (RFP), a request for information (RFI) or a request for a quote (RFQ). The goal is to collect some specific information from each of the agencies on your list, whatever you want to call this. Other sources will tell you that agencies hate RFPs. This is typically because people ask a bunch of questions and create a bunch of scenarios that have nothing to do with the work that will actually be performed.

Remember that you are trying to establish a positive and mutually beneficial relationship with a marketing agency, so 1) respect their time, It could take 20 hours to write up everything for an RFP knowing that it might just end up in the round file. So make sure your RFPs are simple and direct. and 2) don’t just ask questions. Give the agency enough information about your specific needs and brand to determine if there is a fit from their perspective. If you are a “Green” credit union and the agency has no experience with “Green” causes then they should know that they aren’t a good fit. Maybe you need a new website for your credit union and they have little to no real web development experience. That would be good to know.

Reach Out and Touch Your Marketer

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Friday Fun: I was sick, but now I am SUPER!


Things have been quiet around the blog. We had a mad rush of interest in some of the super cool credit union marketing things that we have been doing and I have been feeling like a one legged sprinter – tired and running in circles.

However, today something strange happened. While eating a Jack-in-the-box taco I was bitten by a radioactive ladybug. Initially I only felt hungry and a little irritated…

then something happened…

I felt SUPER!

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