I was lucky enough to coax the naturally shy and exceedingly modest folks at iDiz Incorporated to answer a few questions about the 2020 vision of marketing. Be sure to check out their “Who We Are” page. Like all great companies, they have resident dogs to keep things in order.

Here’s what Kent Dicken, El Queso Grande, Lisa Taylor, Gate Keeper and the always hilarious and insightful Kelley Parks, iDiz blog contributor had to say:

1. What’s your 2020 vision of credit union marketing? Get it? The year 2020. Ten years from now? But seriously – what will it look like?

Kent Dicken:  Credit unions will finally all agree on a national marketing plan to explain what they are to a public that is still confused why they have to belong to a union in order to get any credit.

But seriously – just as people continue to become more mobile, credit unions will no longer be tied to geographic boundaries for FOM. Instead, CUs will re-embrace SEGS and be formed around larger regional/national/international groups (vintage Suzuki owners, Sierra Club, AAA, Red Cross, etc.) where people already identify themselves as belonging. This mesh of shared interest and membership finally makes sense to a public that still doesn’t trust banks and can now put their money where their heart is.

Lisa Taylor: I think we’re just starting to see the legal and social backlash against intrusion marketing. In ten years, there simply won’t be a legal way to force anyone to look at or listen to anything they didn’t ask for, unless they’re too clueless to enable spam filtering (while clueless people do make up a sizable market, maybe we’ll leave them to the banks). Instead, marketing is going to have to be useful, interesting, and/or entertaining.

I think a lot of marketing in 2020 will also become reputation tracking and management. People ARE talking about your CU, online and elsewhere, and the more people are in on the conversation, the more accurate it becomes. Marketers will also finally understand that reputation management means responding and changing the CU, not trying to blunder in and seize control of the conversation.

Kelley Parks: Lisa, you nailed it. I think marketing will also become an art form again. If all forms of unwanted solicitation are regulated out of existence, filtered or blocked, what is left will be beautiful, interesting and relevant. As Marketers we’ll be tasked with creating chemistry with consumers. We’ll no longer use militant words like targets, conquering markets or powering campaigns. Instead we’ll be catalysts for innovation and return to grass roots education. I can’t wait. Someone find me a mad scientist with a Delorian.

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?

LT: I’d pick terrestrial radio. That’s the one that’s going to be around for a good long time. After all, traffic jams aren’t going anywhere. The life support I’d give it is more stations, more variety, and strictly local control (think our magic wand will work on the FCC and ClearChannel?). Corporate radio is simply strangling itself and the medium. If you look at the music industry, you see the same thing at work — the huge corporate musical crap factories are dying, but tiny niches and independents are thriving. Overall, there are fewer smash hits, but people are spending more total time and money on music.

KD: Each of these have their own audiences, so I’m not convinced any will cease to exist. But if I have to pick one to bailout, it would be newspapers. I fear that we will lose a (mostly) unbiased source of professional news reporting since there is not a profitable model for news online. Besides, it’s delivered every morning just in time to go with my coffee.

KP: Newspaper? Radio? No way. Quick – grab a defibrillator for our poor, sadly abused friend, direct mail. It has the most potential to be personal, relevant and connect since it is hand delivered and physically touched by a real person. And I don’t care how many emails, tweets, live chats, and blog conversations I have, nothing replaces the rare treat of a handwritten note. Even just seeing someone’s handwriting is so unusual its almost a novelty. Care packages, Hallmark cards, and $10 checks from Grandma. Long live meaningful mail.

3. What is your definition of social media?

KD: 1. A chaotic cacophony of creating, commenting and connecting.

2. An important way for credit unions to talk with members instead of at them.

KP: I have to follow cacophony? Wow, Kent. I had to look that up. Right now, I think its like going to a party. Some people are really outgoing and friendly. Some are a little timid and shy. And then there’s that one obnoxious drunk guy who shouts at random. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us act like college freshman drunk on what is free and available. With how quickly ideas can be spread on the internet, these tools are powerful reputation magnifiers. So we need to connect responsibly so we get invited back to the right parties.

LT: Simple — it’s just people talking to each other. Whether it’s in-person, on a telephone, or via some internet contraption, it fulfills the same need. The newer forms of social media are just shiny new ways of connecting people. The hard part is valuing this activity — it’s subtle, it takes a lot of time and effort, and marketers are usually pretty impatient.

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?

KP: Traditional advertising agencies. The media captain must go down with his ship. Don’t get me wrong. Like every marketer, I once dreamed of creating clever Super Bowl Ads admired by millions, but I think it will be interesting to see how all of that creative ingenuity (and some of its accompanying ego) is repurposed to help marketers solve problems and connect with consumers in authentic, meaningful ways.

KD: Does anyone buy into the thinking of traditional agencies any more? I think that any business that uses their old-fashioned “lies, well-told” approach is history as well – it simply doesn’t work today. There’s no place to hide in a well-connected society of people with nearly infallible spam detectors. Scams will always be with us, but deceit is certainly not the best strategy if you want repeat business.

Clients are looking for more than gloss today, so advertising agencies will be replaced by marketing agencies that have a much deeper relationship with their clients — for example, more influence in their client’s actual practices – marketing X doesn’t work because you’re actually doing Y. So why not start finding unique ways to connect with consumers that are looking for Y?

Music and video stores presented the same products in the same old way and are now losing out because of new thinking and new technologies. But most companies, including credit unions, deal with “me-too” products. So in order to not become extinct, they need to adjust their thinking in order to connect with their market in a way that resonates, and learn to develop products that become part of their market’s lifestyle.

LT: I can think of two that are important to CUs and will require CUs to adapt as they change:

a) The traditional Realtor charging the seller the traditional 7%. This is an industry that depends utterly on restricting access to information and inventory, and it’s already starting to erode thanks to web sites that allow you to access information and list your home for sale for a set fee. The industry is fighting change tooth and nail, but it’s going to eventually lose that battle. Of course, it’s not going to vanish — home purchases are always going to be complex, and most people still need an advisor or facilitator. Realtors will eventually start working on a fee for service basis, much like attorneys or midwives.

b) The traditional car dealership is another industry that’s in the midst of collapse and sweeping change. For example, there are laws that force you to go through a dealership instead of buying new cars at the factory. These days, yet another middleman is just negative value. And in the information age, the traditional agonizing process of negotiating a price with a sleazy salesman can’t survive much longer.

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

KD:  Gotta-have financial lifestyle products with one-click service and free delivery.

LT:  Steve would finally figure out a way to make financial services cool and sexy (and still very profitable) and Jeff’s legions of electronic elves would make it work perfectly for everyone, everywhere. I think we’d finally see the wide-scale adoption of one integrated account — they’d do away with the old-fashioned 1920’s style hard-line distinctions between savings, checking, certificates, money markets, loans, lines of credit, etc. in favor of a more integrated, flexible, fluid form of money (This has been tried, but consumers are having a hard time understanding it.)

Of course, there would be a wonderful, tiny, touchable, shiny, desirable device, too — open an account, and you get the MoneyPod, jam-packed with transaction security, real-time financial status updates, and a built-in lie detector and pepper grinder.

KP: I want a MoneyPod. Even if it wasn’t a credit union it would feel very much like one because everything would be centered around the member’s experience and sense of belonging. Branches would have Money Geniuses, go virtually paperless, and tellers would be hip 20 somethings in jeans that come to you – the perfect marriage of high tech and high touch.  Online you’d transfer money into your iAccount and you’d be reminded to buy a toaster from an online registry for that upcoming wedding. You could do all your saving, spending, tracking and goal-setting in one place. Design, innovation and aesthetics would create a member experience worth talking about. So much so they would do the majority of the marketing. Ah yes. Let’s do it before they do.

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

KP: Denise, can I shamelessly plug our CU WaterCooler recorded Roasts and Toasts show here? In case you missed it, here are my best and worst of 2009 and a bonus 55 more minutes of credit union goodness along with some amazing vision from Dwight Johnson, Sally Meyer and Mark Meyers. (end of plug)

LT: I think the launch of Ally Bank is both the best and the worst. The marketing and positioning work was bold, powerful and simply brilliant — there are so many lessons to be learned here.

But the reality under the shiny exterior is that Ally Bank is just part of GMAC, and there are various howls of outrage that it was funded with GMAC’s taxpayer-funded bailout money. And the thing that makes me hopping mad is that credit unions should have owned this market position of “the unBank” long ago, and done it so well and so right that no one could go there again without looking like an imitation.

KD: Worst: Credit union management that commoditized their products so that nothing stood out, then cut marketing budgets and hibernated when their biggest competition was on the ropes.

Best:  Credit union management that realized marketing is the growth engine of their organization, not just an expense, and gained market share.

7. Ginger or Mary Ann?

KD: MaryAnn. Ginger is high maintenance.

LT: I’d want to be Ginger’s BFF, like Oprah’s friend Gayle. I’ve always dreamed of living a life of luxury.

KP: That’s tough. I love them both. Ginger is creative, dramatic and maintains a strong sense of who she is in even the worst of times. Then again, Mary Ann rolls up her sleeves and get things done. So, more importantly, which one is a credit union member? And do they need an emergency loan to get off the island?

Kent Dicken and Lisa Taylor are with iDiz Incorporated, a full service marketing, design and branding agency that helps marketers make better credit unions. You are invited to read, think, and share CU marketing brainstorms at SharediDiz.com, call 317.576.0602 to chat, or visit cuidiz.com.

Kelley Parks is Vice President/Marketing and Business Development at Call Federal Credit Union, and a frequent contributor to SharediDiz.com. Contact her at kparks@CallFCU.org.

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