Using Statements as a Marketing Approach: A Wise Choice?

My credit union has slowly started advertising their services. Now, I bank with an old school credit union, with old school ways…with everything that implies. To put that in perspective, I almost fainted when, a year ago, I found out that my credit union was starting to roll out some actual, usable, online services. Yes, those services were archaic and didn’t work too well at first, but they were trying.

In the past, my statement has always just been my statement, no more, no less. Now there are promotional fliers and obvious attempts to market both new and old products included in the envelope. At first, I had to wonder why they were marketing to me. After all, my credit union has served the community for years and many people who live right by it don’t even know it exists. At the same time, they were putting me on to products and services that I wasn't previously aware of. Since they started a broader marketing campaign, I now can tell you exactly what kind of rates they are offering on personal loans. I can also let you know that I can buy tickets to any of my local theaters at discounted prices. Who knew? Certainly not me. But it made me wonder if my credit union saw me as just another customer. 

To be fair, my credit union’s missives were not very intrusive, since they came with my monthly statement and not as standalone pieces of mail. Despite my ambivalent feelings about their approach, I noticed many places where my credit union could show improvement.

Engage me with an Attractive Statement Design

The statements my credit union sends out are plain. They have a very unattractive, yet no-nonsense look about them. Stark grays, blacks, and letterhead on one side of the page. On the other side, they started adding marketing messages. But the messages used the same stark look. If you did not take a closer look, you would think the advertisement was just another part of the statement itself.

If my credit union would redesign the statement to better incorporate the marketing message, it would stand out and be more noticeable. Unless they have a particular reason not to, people tend to only take a cursory look at their statements.

The credit union later started to add more brochure-like stuff in the envelope. However, by doing this, they run the danger of having those advertisements outright ignored. Just like most people ignore the spammy stuff that comes with their phone bills and other regular statements. Having the marketing message included on the statement, which people will at least usually take a glance at, is a good idea. However, the message needs to stand out in some way that draws their eyes to it.

Give Me a Call to Action

Another big issue is the lack of a “call to action.” It’s all good to make me aware that I can get discount tickets to the local amusement park. It’s nice to know they're available. However, without some kind of CTA, the odds are, I will always just think that it’s nice to know, but I may never actually buy any. Most companies learned a long time ago that when you present an option to a potential consumer, you let them know that they should act on it immediately. You also must let them know exactly how they can act on it.

With no call to action, I may not commit to any action at all. It will forever remain…just nice to know. A call to action is monstrously important both online and offline. Not using them in the printed literature is a good indication that they are missing from the online material as well. I only bring that up because many places that issue e-statements fall prey to the same blatant lack of direction with their advertising.

Where Are You Taking Me?

The landing page is the part that ties everything together. I wonder where I would end up if my credit union did have a call to action and I answered that particular call. Given what I know of my credit union, I would end up on some absurdly bland, unattractive part of their website. It would be dense with text, I would probably only give it a fast glance before moving on.

Proper design and a powerful CTA lures potential clients, but what happens when that person gets to the destination? If an advertisement tells me to click a link to follow-up on an offer, I want to find everything that one expects to find at the end of the rainbow when I click it. You have to give me something good.

I would prefer that you give me exactly what you promised, but if you can’t do that then at least give me something worth checking out. It’s possible that my credit union has a low loan rate they are using to attract more bites to their loan offerings. That’s well and good. But when I go online to check out those awesome rates, I do not want the provided link to simply go to their homepage and force me to search for the information. I do not want the link in their email to take me to their general loan offerings, and not specifically to the offer advertised.

Landing pages should not leave potential customers hanging out to dry. If done right, a person is likely to follow-through on the offered service. If done incorrectly, you create uninterest at best. At worst, you can completely lose a customer. The landing page should do everything possible to hold my attention and constantly drive me towards further action.

Not all credit unions are behind the times, some are at the forefront of attracting new business and keeping members happy with innovative services. Many have realized that that they need help with their marketing efforts and make use of third parties such as Doxim to handle their statement and marketing needs. 

Despite my many criticisms of my credit union's marketing attempts, I do appreciate them taking the dive into becoming more businesslike to attract more business out of its members. I don’t like the idea of my credit union selling to me, its member, but I'll get over it. If even the members are unaware of what the credit union has to offer, then potential members will remain even less informed.

S. Barnes

S. Barnes is a telecommunications professional currently dwelling in PA. He makes sure that your cable, phone and internet services keep you awake at night...in a good way. Like many, he became a staunch believer in credit unions after the big bank bailouts in 2008. Since then, he has been doing whatever he could to advocate, promote and motivate people to use credit unions for all of their business and personal needs.

Posted on July 16, 2012 .