3 Things I Learned at the 2016 MAC (Marketing Association of Credit Unions) Conference

 

ONE – Student loan debt is at $126 TRILLION!

I knew this was a problem, but when Mark Wood, SVP of The 747 Group, provided this massive nugget, I was shocked. The typical responses to this problem are that students need to be given more financial education prior to this very important decision (of course) and that predatory lending practices must be curtailed (certainly), but I’d like to offer up another perspective: the importance of looking for colleges that are the right fit for our kids and for our budgets. There is so much focus placed on those “special” institutions in the US News & World Report Top 20. The search should be more about the right, custom fit for our kids’ interests and our budgets. For much more on this, I highly recommend Julie Lythcott-Haims’ How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. Eye-opening and perspective-changing.
 

TWO – 87% of Americans found their banks’ use of social media annoying.

I wish I had a snarky response to this one, but I found this number more than obvious. Read that number again – 87%! This is a good time for us to think about exactly what we’re doing on social media. Most institutions are likely talking to themselves. (You knew that corporations were people now per US law, didn’t you?) Institutions should be on social media, if for no other reason than to respond to issues that come up. But beware of just posting to post. Most folks aren’t interested in whom you’ve promoted to Assistant VP of In-Branch Pet Welcoming. Don’t get tuned out. Want to know how the best do it right? Check out LL Bean or Zappos. (Great tour, BTW!)
 

THREE – Listicles

Just because. This term made me chuckle almost as much as the terrific presenter, Kelly MacDonald, who introduced me to it. A listicle is a list masquerading as an article. Maybe I’m the one with my head in the sand, but I hadn’t heard this term. I’ve even penned some listicles (or close approximations). They certainly have value, and people clearly like them. (Just ask BuzzFeed.) In case you’re interested, here’s one of mine: 6 Ideas that Might Make You Reconsider Your Credit Union Marketing Plan.
 
 

BONUS – Zappos Genie Group

I almost forgot about this one. I’m so glad the MAC folks set up Zappos tours for us, and learning about the Genie group was eye-opening. Zappos, known for its incredible customer service, has a group of about 20 call center employees that are called the Zappos Genies. Top customers are tracked through various metrics by Zappos and fed into the Genie group. All service reps are highly empowered at Zappos, but the Genies are on another level. Genies are given a budget to spend on top customers to get something personally relevant after a problem has been solved. This goes beyond attempting to buy consumer loyalty. Here’s the example the rep we met with shared. He bought a customer a one-of-a-kind $60 brooch on Etsy. Of course, he had the item shipped to Zappos so that he could enclose a personal letter. The customer in this case responded with a heartwarming handwritten response of her own (which this rep shared with us). They had forged an amazing connection. I have a feeling I know where that woman is getting her next pair of slippers. 
 
Thanks to all the people that made MAC another wonderful experience. We’re looking forward to next year’s conference.
 
John
 
 

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