Given the current state of the economy, maximizing your marketing efforts is more critical than ever. In all likelihood, your marketing budgets have shrunk, forcing you to look for creative solutions to help drive acquisition efforts and increase cross-sales.
Leveraging "green" messaging can be an effective way to grab the attention of both potential and existing members. This is particularly true when targeting members of Generation Y who tend to evaluate organizations based on their levels of social responsibility.
In 2008, a study by Bentley College in Massachusetts revealed that for members of Generation Y, the greenness of a brand is "somewhat important" to "important" when making decisions about purchases. Credit unions, because their existence is historically based on a vision of social responsibility, have a natural advantage and ability to leverage green messaging with minimal cost and effort. Further, most credit unions already provide services like online banking and bill pay that by their very nature, support and promote green-friendly practices. However, credit unions should not position themselves as "going green" unless they're prepared to do so throughout their whole organization. Not being true to the green movement could cause a backlash from special interest groups and members that strongly support this movement.
For credit unions looking to leverage green marketing practices to promote their self-service solutions, there is a tremendous amount of supporting material available to help you make your case. Many well-known research firms have produced reports and statistics supporting the green movement within the financial services market. As one example, Javelin Strategy & Research reports that "If all U.S. households viewed and paid bills online we could save 2.3 million tons of wood, or 16.5 million trees." Leveraging your own credit union’s statistics can be valuable as well.
Promoting the conveniences and benefits for members who manage their finances online can easily be coupled with the rewards of environmental sustainability. For example, promoting how much paper you have saved by offering eStatements to members vs. paper or from members using online bill pay. This type of compelling messaging delivered via visually stimulating graphics that highlight the need for more green practices can capture members’ attention and help set your credit union apart in these extremely competitive times.
When promoting the environmental or green benefits of your self-service solutions, consider the following:
- Use email or online campaigns whenever possible.
- Use recycled or FSC-Certified paper for any printed marketing materials such as lobby merchandising, direct mail or statement stuffers.
- Only position the credit union as a green or going green if you are fully committed to implement green practices across the organization.
- The green movement doesn't stop after a 30 or 60 day campaign; the benefits should be reinforced through future marketing and communication initiatives.
- When members adopt a financial institution's self-service solutions, it is even easier and less expensive to cross-sell other products and services to them while also using environmentally friendly messaging.
Members that use self-service solutions, like online bill pay, are less likely to visit their local branch lobby. The more self-service solutions a consumer becomes engaged in the more important it is for the credit union to leverage alternative marketing techniques. However, these techniques should be purposeful and carefully managed. Some suggested guidelines for credit unions to follow include:
- Carefully manage users that unsubscribe and consider traditional communication methods.
- Know the limitations and nuances of email providers. Credit unions should research their users most commonly used email clients and test prior to distributing emails to ensure optimum viewing.
- The purpose of the email message should be obvious and have a call to action.
- Use rich graphic images.
- Label email images to encourage viewing.
Right now, credit unions have an opportunity to leverage cost effective online marketing techniques and make lasting impressions while helping the environment simply by pointing out how their existing products and services can promote environmental sustainability.
Postilion is a leading provider of integrated solutions for self-service banking and payments for credit unions, including, Internet Banking, Voice, Mobile, ATM, and Card Management. For more information and to get access to a complimentary audio recording of our recent webinar "The Credit Union Edge Webinar", click here.
"2007 Online Banking and Bill Payment: Trends, Forecasts, and Strategies for Reinvigorating Growth and Adoption" Javelin Strategy & Research
"The Bentley Center for Marketing Technology Green Brand Index Survey," May 2008