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Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Dealing with Consumer Affluence, Abundance and Apathy

Rob Kimmett, Sr. VP Marketing, New England Credit Union Services, LLC

Marketers are used to identifying and overcoming obstacles and credit union marketers are certainly familiar with this essential skill  One of the hardest parts of overcoming obstacles in financial marketing is the clear identification of just what the problem might be.  

Getting the attention of consumers might be one of the biggest obstacles that credit union marketers confront.  While competition, harried life styles and media choices usually get the blame when our message doesn’t hit the mark  I think the answer can be found among the three A’s:  Affluence, Abundance and Apathy.

Affluence is relative and in the 21st century in the United States the vast majority of people do not want for basic creature comforts.  In fact as most of us in the financial services industry have seen people are not inclined to deny themselves much.  Therefore it can be difficult for institutions like credit unions to market a message of financial common sense when it is so easy to be self indulgent.  It is critical that our message presents the benefits of making good financial decisions as opposed to  chiding our members to eat their “financial spinach.”

Abundance is used her to refer to the tremendous quantity of financial providers that we must compete with every day.  Consumers including our members are being hit with thousand of pitches a day and many of them from financial providers.  And that would be tough enough but many of our competitors are less than forthright about the true costs of what it is they are offering (0% financing anyone?).  This plethora of offers amounts to white noise that we have to penetrate in order to have a dialogue with the consumer. 

Apathy is perhaps the biggest communication challenge that we face.  As hard as it might be for us to hear, “they just aren’t that into us.”  The consumer is far more important to the marketer of financial services than we are to them.  We matter to them when they need a loan or have to establish a checking account.  After that we are just part of the infrastructure of their life.  The trick of dealing with apathy is to learn how to understand it exists and communicate around it rather than trying to overcome it by battering it down.  A constant barrage of messaging will only ensure that the consumer will turn a deaf ear. 

Posted by Rob •
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