Article

Content Marketing

By Scott Gattis

9 minutes

Fail-proof steps for your credit union.

content is king illustrationNot unlike the credit union industry, marketing has evolved greatly in recent years, allowing more precise targeting and engagement through the emerging practice of content marketing.

While traditional marketing and advertising continue to play a crucial role in delivering results for credit unions, smart marketers are now also  incorporating content marketing—a powerful approach that drives deeper, more valuable relationships with members and engages prospects in a meaningful way by sharing insightful information that consumers seek.

What is Content Marketing?

Rather than interrupting your audiences to pitch your product or service, content marketing focuses on delivering information that helps your audiences—helps them understand issues, helps simplify complex constructs or otherwise adds value by providing useful and relevant information. If traditional marketing is about selling, content marketing is about helping. Essentially, content marketing is a relatively new construct for an age-old idea: Provide people useful or valuable information, and they will seek you out.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience­—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Content marketing can be activated across numerous outlets, but the most common include your credit union’s website, blog and social media channels.

As member-focused, service-based organizations, credit unions are inherently well-positioned to maximize a content marketing approach. Credit unions have a profound opportunity to channel the industry’s “people helping people” philosophy into a high-impact, helpful content marketing platform. Content marketing can show your members and potential new members that you understand the challenges they face and offer a solution-focused perspective that can help them achieve their needs.

While most credit unions see the value in executing a content marketing strategy, many have yet to effectively launch an effort because the idea can seem daunting. Typically, the roadblocks credit unions experience in launching and managing content marketing efforts tie back to two simple, but pervasive, issues: lack of time and lack of resources. And while there is no doubt that content marketing requires time and a thoughtful effort, following some straightforward best practices can make a successful content marketing program achievable for even the smallest, most resource-strapped credit unions.

Get Support Within Your Credit Union

To be successful with your content marketing efforts, it is critical to build support from the top to the bottom of your credit union. Most smart marketers know this means gaining buy-in from the C-suite. Having an executive sponsor for your content marketing initiative can pave the way to success—from helping break down the internal resistance to change that is so common with new initiatives, to ensuring alignment with the organization’s strategies.

One area that is often overlooked, however, is building a content marketing support structure that includes member-facing team members. To be truly successful with content marketing, you must have intimate knowledge of what your members and potential new members need, and the best way to do that is by getting input and ideas from the individuals who interact with them daily.

For example, holding monthly or quarterly brainstorming sessions between the credit union content marketing team and your member-facing employees can allow you to gather insight about what questions members are asking when they come into a branch or call the credit union. This insight about what challenges and concerns your members are dealing with is invaluable when formulating a content marketing strategy, as it allows you to focus on what matters most to your members.

Building a Content Team

While it is important to build a strong support team across your credit union, it is equally important to ensure there is clear ownership for your content marketing program and that there are clearly defined content marketing roles within your team.

Assigning accountability for key content marketing functions will help your team manage its capacity, plan for the execution of content marketing and ultimately ensure success of your efforts, even when time and resource constraints are at a high.

While every team is different and should be based on your credit union’s unique needs, some key content marketing team roles to assign include, at a minimum, the following:

  • an editor who is responsible for reviewing, editing and ultimately approving all content;
  • content creators who are responsible for producing the content (including blog posts, videos, podcasts, articles, etc.); and
  • an analyst who measures the effectiveness of content and suggests strategic course corrections as needed.

Successful Content is Intentional Content

Jumping headfirst into content creation without a plan is a surefire way to achieve mediocrity with your credit union’s content marketing efforts. To be successful, you must be intentional about whom you are targeting and what you want to achieve with that audience.

Content Sources
There are many excellent, free sources of sharable content that your credit union can reference and pass along to your audience. Some sources to follow include:

With content marketing, that means investing the time on the front end to develop a strategic roadmap that will guide your efforts going forward. Having a fully developed roadmap not only makes your content more effective, it also streamlines execution. This builds significant efficiencies you can realize over the long term and makes the ongoing content marketing process much more manageable when time and resource constraints are an issue.

In addition to your key success factors by which you will be measured, a typical credit union content marketing roadmap identifies your audience personas—the detailed profile of your target audience. This can include elements about your audiences’ age, life stage, professional status, interests, challenges and attitudes. Clearly establishing audience personas as part of your roadmap will help your content marketing team develop highly relevant and targeted content designed to drive action.

A content marketing roadmap provides a 30,000-foot view of your content, allowing managers to ensure your credit union covers a broad and balanced scope of topics. Once buy-in is established for the strategic content marketing roadmap, a tactical content calendar can be developed to focus on executing the strategic objectives. This will provide the rigor needed to guide and significantly streamline the content creation process.

Schedule in Bulk

With the plethora of automated content publishing and scheduling tools available today, building out and scheduling content publication in advance can help your team realize great efficiencies. A few to try include social media scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer or an integrated inbound marketing platform like Hubspot. Essentially, credit unions can write or otherwise develop content in three- or six-month blocks, strategically spacing out the publication of the content in advance.

This allows your team to take advantage of any lulls in activity to build content that can be published and distributed days, weeks or even months down the road. It is also a good way to ensure the high frequency of quality content that is key to generating traction with content marketing. And since many of these automated tools are available at no or minimal cost, they are a wise investment for any resource- or time-strapped CU.

Focus Your Efforts

In the current vast digital landscape, it can be tempting to jump into content marketing with the intent to attack multiple types of content from the start. You might have ideas that lend themselves to everything from how-to videos to a financial blog to a white paper on IRAs. And while your goal should ultimately be to achieve balance and offer a wide range of content types, when time and resource limitations are an issue, focusing on first mastering a manageable set of content types is a wise approach that yields greater results.

For example, maintaining a blog with regular updates that include strategic content will allow you to gain more traction more quickly than spreading your efforts between a blog, a series of how-to videos and a collection of white papers that do not offer the same level of quality or frequency. Unless you have the resources to execute multiple types of high-quality content simultaneously, start by building a strong foundation in a few areas that can be scaled up as you experience success, gain further buy-in and potentially grow your resources.

Repurpose Existing Content

As you build your CU’s library of content, it is important to ensure you fully leverage your investment. Without a doubt, plenty of valuable content already exists in your CU, and your goal should be to discover, resurrect, repurpose and package that content to extract every bit of value. A single piece of content can be modified through focus or format to make it fresh again.

This simple strategy can reduce the costs associated with content creation, reach additional audiences and save time by expanding a single content idea into multiple executions. For example, a high-performing blog post can serve as the foundation for a how-to video on the same topic. Because the foundational elements have already been developed for one piece of content, the time to create additional content can be substantially reduced.

This is also a very effective way to address the information intake preferences of different kinds of individuals. While some people are best able to take in information through long-form text, others more effectively learn via video or short, tweetable text. Content repurposing is a key strategy for appealing to multiple audiences with different content consumption preferences.

Leverage External Content Sources

Every content marketing program should include original content. It is the best way for a CU to truly stand out from the crowd. However, to keep a content marketing program going with limited resources, it is important to support your original content strategy with external content curation to improve the frequency of publishing and enhance the relevancy of your efforts.

The goal of content curation is to scan and identify the top content being published by thought leaders in the industry. That content can then be republished, adding your credit union’s angle to make the content even more relevant to your members and potential new members. By simply adding a preface or other commentary to the curated content that presents your CU’s point of view, you can advance your content marketing objective without investing unnecessary time and budget developing similar content from the ground up. For example, link to an article about budgeting but add a tip or two of your own. Or share an interesting blog post about student loans and mention your products.

The value of content marketing for credit unions is powerful and sustained. In this digital age, content marketing will continue to play a more and more vital role in the credit union marketing mix. Those institutions that invest in developing a strong content marketing program now will undoubtedly reap benefits well into the future.

Scott Gattis is a senior digital strategist for ChappellRoberts, a Tampa, Fla.-based integrated advertising agency with a specialized focus in the CU industry.

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