I asked Olivier Raoust’s company a few questions about the future of marketing in the credit union space. Raoust & Partners are responsible for the Innovations Credit Union Lip Dub video, so I know they look at things differently. Here’s what they had to say:

1. What’s your 2020 vision of credit union marketing? In 10 years, what will marketing look like?

Olivier F. Raoust, CEO: Hopefully the majority of credit unions will stop recycling tired ideas and concepts. The problem largely stems from the marketing function which too often is ignored by the stakeholders (CEO, Board). Additionally, while new channels (including social media) are being introduced at an increasingly rapid rate, the main objective has never changed: create a sticky and genuine brand positioning that will resonate with your core membership. In 2020, I envision better ways to engage members where the focus will have switched from preaching and boasting to a true dialogue between institution and member.

Charles Sefton Parr, Co-Creative: The same. Let me elaborate on that though.

It will be the same because we will use whatever current communication trends are being utilized. The same as marketing in 2009 will have to shift to be relevant in 2010. It changes every minute. Long gone are the days of the old phrase: “What have you done for me lately.” Now it is replaced by: “What have you just done for me.”

Donna Lewis Raoust, CFO: I would only add here that the one thing that should never change, regardless of the year and the “current” marketing/advertising forces du jour, is that marketing plans must be reflective of a credit union’s existing member base as well as potential members. By this I mean that regions of the country and localities within each region will always have their eccentricities and unique needs that need to be addressed.

2. If you had to pick one of the dying marketing mediums eulogized in my series (TV, radio, newspaper, direct mail) to give life support to – which one would it be? Why?

OFR: Definitely TV. It educates and entertains like no other medium. And after all years of talking about convergence, it is finally happening. With the advent of YouTube, AppleTV, HULU, etc, the lines are blurring. The video “box” will never disappear, only the content will evolve.

CSP: I would pick TV.

Why?

People still watch TV. I know, I know, DVR’s/Hulu.com/OnDemand have killed the commercial. Yet everyday I hear and read about TV ads. Nobody talks about the other choices. Ever.

TV is entertainment. Entertainment can deliver a message. TV entertainment fits into the marketing scheme to invoke the viewer.

You think the Slap-Chop Rap TV spot didn’t create social media buzz? I do. And that is my point. TV in some people’s eyes is a dying medium. I do not concur with that. TV just needs to find a better way to fit into the modern day messaging.

30 seconds is dead. I will give you that one. But, I say revolt against the time slots. Create an entertaining piece that can sell something passively and watch the return on investment.

DLR: I would largely agree with Charlie’s assessment here, although I do think that there is still a place for well-crafted and designed, interesting/arresting Direct Response, especially to existing members or targeted (highly targeted) prospective members.

3. What is your definition of social media?

OFR: Overhyped? Certainly can be and you have to wonder about its current state when even detergents have their own fan page. Like any new medium, it is evolving and I believe we will arrive at a better consensus. For credit unions, social media should be the conduit to be advocates – use its power to really define ‘People Helping People’.

CSP: Media that is social?

Let me better define that: The spread of information that is shared across multiple channels to spread a personal yet relevant message about any specific topic.

Whether it be twitter, facebook, tweetmeme, digg, stumbleupon, reedit, myspace, etc… the creation of a virtual network of eyeballs, that hopefully will embrace your message and carry it on. Or, continue the discussion with their very own facts or disputes.

DLR: Plainly and simply, Social Media is all about “me.” It is every human’s opportunity for ongoing 15 minutes of fame. The problem with “institutional” social media is that by and large, it comes across as purely self-promotional (me, me, me all the time). Additionally, I am finding that the majority of an entity’s followers/fans/participants is the competition. Or, in the case of a credit union’s Facebook and Twitter pages, often the fans and followers are primarily composed of companies like R+P, that either do business with that credit union or would like to do business with that credit union. Social Media is the “buzz term” of the moment, that phrase that will get a consultant or a marketing firm an audience with a prospect. That really bothers me b/c Social Media needs to be done well, really really well to resonate with members/prospective members. And I am finding that most pundits’ understanding of the power of Social Media is superficial at best.

When done well, Social Media, especially for a not-for-profit institution can be extremely powerful. And I will use Innovations’ Fan Page here as an example. They do not post often, but when they do, you feel a real affinity for that post – the joy, the excitement, the soul of the organization. It’s very real and completely uncontrived. For that reason specifically, you feel as though you really want to belong to this credit union.

4. Music and video stores are almost extinct thanks to companies like Apple and Netflix. What industry do you think is on the verge of collapse? Why?

CSP: That traditional “brick and mortar” bank that handles your financial transactions.

Why?

Well, let’s take a look at USAA with their ability to scan a check or take a photo of the check with your iPhone to make an instant deposit. Imagine if all banking solutions adopted this functionality. The branch would become a ghost town of tellers. Sure, you would still have some who would go to the branch and withdrawal and deposit. The very same way that people still buy CD’s and DVD’s from stores. But, the physical object demand is much lower than only just a year ago.

DLR: Yep. I agree, although I would say that newspapers as we know them have a much better chance of going extinct before “brick and mortar” banks. And well they should. For the most part, they have done very little to stay truly relevant in an increasingly competitive news environment – an object lesson for us all.

OFR: I respectfully disagree with my colleagues here. I do not believe “brick and mortar” will disappear for FI’s. In fact, the smart ones will leverage the physical space to better define their brand. Let’s face it: the majority of credit unions do a very poor job of using their branches, where the transactions feel more like queuing at the DMV or post office. It ain’t about slapping posters on the wall either.

The industry that is vanishing is newspapers. Plain and simple, it’s yesterday’s news. Wasteful too. But more that, the content is still pushed the same way it was 50, 100 years ago – long form. People increasingly don’t want to take the time.

5. If Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos started a financial institution, how would they market it?

CSP: Well for one thing there wouldn’t be any buttons and every time you went to your CU there would always be suggestions of exactly what you may want in your financial product mix.

DLR: And, I guarantee you that this financial institution would have strategic plans in place for many upcoming years (that they actually stick to!), they would lead the pack with the introduction (regularly and consistently) of new, improved, advanced services, packages of services, etc., and banking there would be FUN for the member/customer b/c for all their brilliance and expertise, these guys (or at least their companies) don’t seem to take themselves too seriously.

OFR: I agree with Donna here: they’d have a well thought out strategic plan, and they’d stick to it. Establishing a successful brand demands creative thinking and consistency; something most credit unions ignore at will, choosing to rely on the latest ‘buzz’ or prepackaged, formulaic solutions.

6. Best and worst marketing moments of 2009. What comes to mind?

OFR: Best = The rise of YouTube as the real birth of convergence.

Worst = Jumping on the social media bandwagon without a clear plan on how it supports the brand. (we HAVE to do it, ‘cause everybody else is…….. huh???)

CSP: Best – Leveling the playing field with the rise and popularity of Twitter.

Worst – Spam on Twitter.

DLR: Best = our introduction to ReachLocal, which gives a small institution the ability to effectively play in the largest sand box of them all. Worst = The self-aggrandizing self-promotion of so many of these self-proclaimed pundits. I would much rather “walk the walk” than simply “talk the talk.” You asked!!!!!!

7. Ginger or Mary Ann?

OFR: Ginger, because she’s dangerous…

CSP: That’s a tough one, but I’ll try. Mary Ann.

DLR: Definitely Mary Ann. That Ginger is too high maintenance!

Raoust+Partners is a comprehensive marketing firm focused on helping clients in tough businesses, with intense competition, who will value thier contributions. They work with their clients to help them develop strategic full contact marketing programs.

Established in 1995 by Olivier Raoust, they bring more than 100 years of combined experience to the table, plus a “do-what-it-takes-to-win” attitude.

Perhaps this is because their founder, Olivier Raoust, is a fiercely competitive man. One outlet for his competitiveness is sports car club racing, the weekend circuit for real road warriors, where the best driver – executing the best strategy – can beat the better car.

Solving problems at 100 miles an hour has helped Olivier hone his skills at helping clients deal with difficult competitive situations.

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