Archive for March, 2012
You’ve heard us say before that a tough economy requires more marketing savvy.
A tough economy is no time to slash your marketing efforts.
And a tough economy presents not only challenges but great opportunity to those who can see them.
But there is no doubt that these are harder financial times for many individuals and families across the nation (and around the world) these days. And perhaps no other industry feels the impact more than the financial services and banking industry, especially smaller institutions such as community or formerly-employer based credit unions.
But credit union marketing has never been more critical. Recent surveys show that the primary concerns of credit unions for 2012 regarding their marketing were insufficient budgets and/or manpower to accomplish their marketing goals. Tough economic times make meeting loan and deposit goals, along with all the rest, harder than ever before. However countless sources will tell you that during a slowdown or recession the LAST thing you should do is slash your marketing budgets to the bone. Spend wisely, for sure…with an eye toward ROI now more than ever. But continue to identify opportunities.
The key to surviving and even thriving during tough economic times is to find ways to build your business that the “other guy” down the street is NOT taking advantage of. That’s where we can help.
SEE THE DIFFERENCE
With the few larger competitors that we have, you will usually find lots of “cookie cutter” marketing.
The only difference between the different credit unions who are their clients – and their various marketing messages – appears to simply be their logo being placed in the corner of the marketing piece instead of a competitor.
But consumers are very marketing and promotions-savvy these days, so don’t for a minute think that your members cannot tell the difference between the “canned” materials you receive from some sources, and the quality of campaign-specific work that we do on behalf of credit union clients.
And often at the same price or BETTER.
CUs, it’s time to start planning. It’s time to get organized and develop a workable strategy to create positive long-term results for your organization. Just because the bigger institutions have made a splash doesn’t mean yours can’t too. If you haven’t already, contact us today to help get you started with a cost-effective, results-based solution.
Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?
It’s not just the number of hours we’re working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.
What we’ve lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It’s like an itch we can’t resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.
Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you’re taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while you’re driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn’t?
The biggest cost — assuming you don’t crash — is to your productivity. In part, that’s a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you’re partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it’s because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.
But most insidiously, it’s because if you’re always doing something, you’re relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.
I know this from my own experience. I get two to three times as much writing accomplished when I focus without interruption for a designated period of time and then take a real break, away from my desk. The best way for an organization to fuel higher productivity and more innovative thinking is to strongly encourage finite periods of absorbed focus, as well as shorter periods of real renewal.
If you’re a manager, here are three policies worth promoting:
1. Maintain meeting discipline. Schedule meetings for 45 minutes, rather than an hour or longer, so participants can stay focused, take time afterward to reflect on what’s been discussed, and recover before the next obligation. Start all meetings at a precise time, end at a precise time, and insist that all digital devices be turned off throughout the meeting.
2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day. It forces your people into reactive mode, fractures their attention, and makes it difficult for them to sustain attention on their priorities. Let them turn off their email at certain times. If it’s urgent, you can call them — but that won’t happen very often.
3. Encourage renewal. Create at least one time during the day when you encourage your people to stop working and take a break. Offer a midafternoon class in yoga, or meditation, organize a group walk or workout, or consider creating a renewal room where people can relax, or take a nap.
It’s also up to individuals to set their own boundaries. Consider these three behaviors for yourself:
1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones. Finally, resist every impulse to distraction, knowing that you have a designated stopping point. The more absorbed you can get, the more productive you’ll be. When you’re done, take at least a few minutes to renew.
2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you don’t, you’ll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. Also, find a different environment in which to do this activity — preferably one that’s relaxed and conducive to open-ended thinking.
3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you’re off, you’re truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you’ll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.
A single principle lies at the heart of all these suggestions. When you’re engaged at work, fully engage, for defined periods of time. When you’re renewing, truly renew. Make waves. Stop living your life in the gray zone.
Does this make you wonder if the placement of your sidebar that includes your Contact Us form is in the right place?
We like to think that we make decisions based on our ideas of right and wrong — and we do, to an extent. But according to recent research, our choices may also be influenced by something as simple as whether we’re right or left handed.
That’s because right-handed people are more drawn to things on the right side of a screen or page, while left-handed people look to the left. Cognitive scientist Daniel Casasanto of The New School for Social Research says it’s part of the “body-specificity hypothesis” — the idea that our physical bodies affect the decisions we make and the way we communicate with one another. One of the easiest ways to measure this hypothesis is by looking at whether a person is a righty or a lefty.
“Handedness is a good tool (to use) because it’s easily measurable, and our hands our important in how we interact with the physical world,” Casasanto explained to MSNBC.
In his study, which was published in a recent edition Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Casasanto found that people tend to prefer the things that they see or experience on the same side as their dominant hand.
“People like things better when they are easier to perceive and interact with,” he says. Right-handers interact with their environment more easily on the right than on the left, so they come to associate “good” with “right” and “bad” with “left,” he explained.
“Since about 90 percent of the population is right-handed, people who want to attract customers, sell products, or get votes should consider that the right side of a page or a computer screen might be the ‘right’ place to be,” he added.
We even tend to use our dominant side to differentiate positive ideas from negative ones. In 2004, presidential candidates John Kerry and George W. Bush — both of whom are right-handed — gestured more often with their right hands when expressing positive thoughts or ideas. In 2008, both Barack Obama and John McCain were left-handed, and both candidates used their left hands more often when expressing something positive.
The association with positivity extends to the choices everyday people make as well. When Casasanto asked study participants to decide between two products to buy, two job applicants to hire, or two alien creatures to trust, right-handed participants regularly chose the ones on the right side of the page, while south-paws chose the ones on the left.
That influence seems to extend beyond the physical world, influencing even abstract ideas like intelligence and honesty. Which means that it affects the way we understand one another as well, Casasanto says
“Most of the time, we feel like we understand each other because what a word means to me, is close enough to what it means to you,” he says. “But it’s never the same, and what a word means in your mind may depend on quirks of your body.”
While the preference seems to hold true even for kids as young as 5 years old, it isn’t absolute. People who are right-hand dominant but lose the use of that hand, even temporarily, start to associate “good” with “left” instead of “right.”
“After a few minutes of fumbling with their right hand, righties start to think like lefties,” Casasanto said in a statement. “If you change people’s bodies, you change their minds.”