NAFCU Services Blog

Oct 31, 2011 by David Frankil

Marketing to Members in a Mobile World – Are You Ready?

Much of the debate about mobile banking and its impact on credit unions has focused on the technology and functionality that will be offered to members.  From simple text message alerts and balance information to full-blown banking suites that offer the same functionality that you have with a PC and a browser. The market (at least in the United States) is still sorting itself out.

What gets less attention is what a mobile-centric world will mean for the way in which we market to and engage with our members. Mobile marketing certainly requires a different way of thinking about messaging, medium, and target audiences because it’s such a unique channel with unique challenges and unique opportunities.  Luckily, there are some experts out there to help us understand the paradigm shift.

One such expert is Chuck Martin, the author of ‘The Third Screen: Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile’ and also CEO of The Mobile Future Institute and Director of the Center of Media Research at MediaPost Communications Inc. Through his research and public speaking, Chuck has been a digital pioneer in the interactive marketplace for more than a decade.

The book is focused on the strategies and tactics businesses will need in a world gone mobile. Marketers and businesspeople who don't understand the untethered consumer – on the move, always on – risk becoming obsolete and need to understand this environment before deploying technology that creates a mobile channel to members.  Chuck helps us understand how technology relates to (and changes) consumer behavior, and also gives us a peek into what other innovations are coming down the pike.

The ‘three screens’ in the book title refers to the evolution from televisions to computers to smartphones, and discusses the technology and market behavior it has engendered.  Quoting from Chuck’s website –

The first screen, television, revolutionized the way marketers reached consumers so that a company could reach millions with well-crafted and tested messages they totally controlled. The second screen, the personal computer, allowed companies to interactively communicate with and sell to their customers, easily gaining customer feedback and even permitting customers to provide input on products or services being developed. The third screen, the mobile device, is a game changer. It enables customers to communicate directly with each other and share information and opinions in real time and on location. The third screen revolution is about dramatic technological and behavioral change.

I can relate - when I was growing up, what passed for an interactive dialogue was me yelling at the TV, but nobody would ever respond.  As a Philadelphia sports fan back when our teams had some of the worst records of any major sports town, you can imagine I did quite a bit of that. :-)

Today’s smartphones coupled with an ever-increasing number of social media applications offer ample opportunity for interactive communications between you and them, between them and other people, and between them and other related businesses.  Martin provides excellent insight into what this means for marketing and branding, in particular with respect to the explosion of location-based services. Put an ad in a newspaper and you might see some generic lift. Promote something via the mobile channel – perhaps to someone about your credit union when they’re in your neighborhood (yes, your phone tells us that) – and you have a sense of immediacy in the reaction that you can’t replicate in any other marketing channel.

Even more significant, the smartphone generation has come to expect this sort of interaction.

This has implications for the type of content you want to generate, the amount and timing of it, as well as your ability to personalize messages and offers.  It is tempting to think of mobile as just another channel to reach a target audience.  But when you dig deeper, as with social media, it is a channel of a different sort that requires a different approach and which offers different opportunities as well.   As Chuck notes, there has been a power shift in this revolution.

In addition to being an expert on this topic, I’m pleased to announce that Chuck is also going to be the keynote speaker at the NAFCU Strategic Growth Conference in March 2012.

Tip: Register now to get the early bird discount, and you’ll also get a signed copy of Chuck’s book!  AND you’ll get to participate in a hands-on, half-day social media workshop – ‘Creating a Social Media Blueprint for your Credit Union’ - come in with some ideas and what you have so far, and walk out with a social media plan for your credit union (but I’ll save more detail on that for another blog post!)

So if you have deployed (or are planning to deploy) a mobile solution, I’d recommend this book to you as a guide to marketing and branding in this strange new world. Or better yet, join us at the Strategic Growth Conference next year and hear it all first-hand!

Post written by Dave Frankil, President, NAFCU Services Corp.

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