‘REACH’ Wednesday Morning: Scott Stratten and Fintech Panel

Scott Stratten, "un-marketing" industry innovator and best-selling author
Scott Stratten, "un-marketing" industry innovator and best-selling author

The final morning of “REACH” brought attendees of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ annual convention face to face with Scott Stratten—a marketing industry innovator and author who forces people to refocus on what matters most, and helps see through a new lens with unconventional "unmarketing" views.

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“Branding is whatever you as a consumer think is right—it’s simply your own impression of something,” Stratten said. “Then it’s up to marketers and corporations to either prove that judgement or disprove it.”

He encouraged credit union leaders to look at their frontline staff differently, with a new perspective on how their thoughts, feelings and ideas could transform members’ lives in “simple” ways. Oftentimes employees don’t work best when they think they don’t matter, and when they don’t know they have a brand responsibility. In reality, they write the brand storyline—not the marketers.

“Your front line changes your bottom line,” Stratten said. “There’s no such thing as a neutral brand interaction—it either goes up or down. The day is made up of hundreds of intra-day brand interactions where the little things add up to big things. When I see your credit union name, what do I think? Your staff is the brand.”

Drawing from his vanguard approach to building member relationships, Stratten has transformed how corporations like PepsiCo, Century 21, Fidelity, and Microsoft do business with radical insights on how to engage better with customers through social and viral marketing. He dug into these insights on stage with “three types of members”: ecstatic, static, and vulnerable—with most consumers always in the middle (static).

“We treat the pursuit of new members differently than current ones, and that’s backwards,” he said. “Current members are the ones who should win the TVs, smartphones and other incentives for keeping their accounts open with you. The reason this middle group—“static”—is a problem is because of a four-letter word: ‘fine.’ Members who are just ‘fine’ is a bad thing. ‘Fine’ is never the real answer. You’ve got to get members up and out from ‘fine’ because ‘fine’ where businesses go to die.”

He closed with a touchpoint on how consumers are overwhelmed with digital “noise” and interaction in today’s social media-internet laced world of non-stop news and information. “The worst type of member complaint you have in your credit union is the one you never hear. If you don’t hear it, you cannot fix it. Your members don’t expect perfection—they expect accountability.” He added that reaching through the noise with simple care and attention is what’s needed.

Stratten closed with a clear message about “un-learning” marketing: “Branding is in real-time today. When you do something that isn’t right, own it. Don’t overanalyze things. It’s so simple: What does a member need? What does an employee need? We can be part of both the problem and the solution.”

What ‘Fintech’ Means for Credit Unions
Attendees received a taste of ‘fintech’—also known as financial technology—when Bill Sarris, CEO of Linqto, took the helm to showcase how some credit unions are experimenting with mobile platforms. Linqto is a fintech firm focusing on banking apps for credit unions and other financial institutions.

In “Fintech Showcase—Collaboration Not Competition,” Sarris highlighted how credit unions don’t have to be overly concerned about firms competing for their members’ business as long as they put their foot in the game and start playing in the same arena. On stage, he spotlighted executives from SavvyMoney, Finovera, Payveris, MoneyCarta, and SnapCheck who are willing to partner with credit unions since credit unions “own” a sense of community with their members unlike many others in the financial services industry.

Some key facts stood out:

  • In 2013, fintech was a $3.3 billion annual initiative within the credit union industry. Today it’s $30 billion and growing.
  • Fintech has “given consumers choice.” It’s also enhanced access and focus for them.
  • More than 50 percent of all “mobile installs” come from word of mouth, but that model doesn’t work with mobile banking apps because a consumer has to visit a branch to open an account first.
  • Removing the “app” (mobile application) barrier is huge—but once a credit union gets over this hump, it can implement all kinds of modern tools to engage members.
  • Those credit unions and banks experimenting with mobile apps and fintech technology/philosophy today are using gamification, online communities, and products/services to explore new ways of engagement.
  • Perhaps one of the greatest enhancement to the lives of credit union members and bank customers has been autonomy and power. Today, banking power has been placed back into the hands of members to see how they can track, build and leverage their credit scores; understand vulnerabilities; and leverage credit monitoring and interest rate offers.
  • There’s a huge opportunity for credit unions to be the go-between in the bill-pay market. What lies in the balance is not just convenience for consumers, but a steady source of interchange revenue for credit unions to reinvest back into that cost center for enhanced efficiencies and member satisfaction and experience.
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