Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union e-mail Program

One of the key participants (or “character”) in this story is the Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union. Our internet marketing strategy was described in an earlier post. Over the last 6-7 months the key marketing activity has been a weekly e-mail program. During this period 28 e-mail letters were sent to an average of 834 recipients.We tried to focus each e-mail letter on one topic.

Strategic Objectives
The strategic objectives of the program are to:

  1. Demonstrate that the credit union was competitive with most banks for being the members’ primary financial institution by making them aware of the wide range of services and financial products offered.
  2. Increase member use of the many services such as loans, credit & debit cards, and share accounts (checking).
  3. Increase overall Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union membership.
  4. Be the agent that brings readers to the other key components of the internet marketing strategy, namely the Facebook page and the blog, Tri-Town Apple.

Time to Pause & Assess
As we reached the end of June, we realized two important factors.

  1. We had essentially covered all the significant topics.
  2. Many of the members would be taking vacation over the summer and thus our audience would be reduced.

These factors led us to the conclusion that July/August would be a good time to pause the program take a measure of how effective it was and what should be changed, if anything. Continue reading

Back Office Solutions

This Story’s Next Character
This blog is a story about small businesses and organizations learning how to use the internet for more effective marketing. As in any story, it is important to introduce the main “characters”. In prior posts, we met the Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union and the Wilton Chamber Leads Group. I have one more “character” to introduce. There are a couple of others in the wings, but it’s too early to bring them on.

Back Office Solutions is the business of Robin Roscillo. Robin is also the leader of our Chamber Leads Group, and in that role she has demonstrated an ability to keep the group focused on its purpose, and to organize meetings around the planned objective. I mention these qualities because they cast a favorable light on Robin’s ability to provide the services Back Office Solutions views as its mission.

From Robin’s website…

“Back Office Solutions works with small business owners to increase the overall productivity of their companies.  Through evaluating and analyzing the overall enterprise, Robin streamlines operations, devises new systems and creates a cohesive team that works together to achieve the company’s goals.”

The reason Robin and her business, Back Office Solutions, plays a role in this story is that I approached Robin a while ago with the offer to help her reorganize her website around the idea of a combined web site that included a blog, as well as the usual information found in a site. I particularly thought Robin would benefit by focusing on the concept of Content Marketing.

Why Content Marketing
I believe strongly that businesses that rely heavily on their experience and knowledge in the pursuit of clients and revenue, are natural candidates for a Content Marketing strategy. As a service business, Back Office Solutions is a perfect example of a company that relies on its extensive knowledge and experience. So Robin and her business fit nicely into the experience that I am trying to carry out; namely helping small business take advantage of the internet, particularly Content Marketing, to market their goods, in this case services. I’m happy to say that Robin accepted the offer (I’m sure the reader already has guessed that).

What’s the Plan
I think the place to begin is with the identification and description of the audience that the Content Marketing strategy will be aimed at. Included in this process is the description of the problems for which potential clients are looking to find answers. The concept of Content Marketing is built on the idea that the marketer provides information that in one way or another is helpful to the intended audience, and, importantly, the audience realizes the information is helpful. Publishing information about solutions to problems that the audience doesn’t view as being important won’t do much.

Where Are We
Robin and I have met a few times on a regular schedule and I see that if I am to be successful in my role both with Robin and others, I need to sharpen my ability to lead a client in the process of identifying the problems of the target audience. It is too easy to describe the services that a company provides. That’s not a bad thing. Being able to describe your business accurately and succinctly is vital,  but if you’re going to offer information that deals directly with perspective clients problems, you’d better have those problems identified and described in a language that resonates with that audience.

When I think about it, this isn’t too surprising. We’re constantly focused on how we should describe our business; for example the famous “elevator speech”. It’s a focus of our Leads Group; we go around the table frequently to start a meeting with short descriptions of our business. Another example, everyone would agree that it’s important that your LinkedIn profile accurately, and succinctly, describes your qualities and business, but what about the prospects’ perpective. At any networking meeting, we ask each other, “So, what does Acme Widget do?” We never say, “Well, what are your clients most significant problems?”

From Here
I’m confident that Robin and I will end up with a good description of the problems her audience has. It’s that I want to get this done and move on to discussing how we are going to address these problems.

Takeaway
My takeaway from this experience is that I need to convey this notion quicker and better than I did with Robin…

It’s Not About You, It’s About Them!

I am interested in any thoughts that somebody has about this. Comments are welcome.

Our Leads Group

Continuing the introduction of the “characters” in this story, today we’ll meet the Wilton Chamber of Commerce Leads Group (see Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union). This group of about 18 people, all members of the Wilton Chamber, have been meeting twice a month for going on two years. We have only one person from any particular line of business. The purpose is to foster lead generation, both within and outside our group. As you might guess, the group is made up of individuals representing small businesses. A few members work in a local branch office of a larger corporation. In that sense they too, are small business people.

Not Much Experience
As far as I can see, except for one other person, there isn’t much experience with blogging or using social media. For the most part, the members are not really doing what would be required to gain that experience. Yet these are the very people that can benefit greatly from even a modest initiative with these internet marketing tools. The problem, at it’s root cause, is time. They do not have the time available to learn what they need to know to make good decisions, and even if someone can make those decisions for them, they do not have the time to execute. For many the technical requirements are overly daunting as well.

The Group Blog
Late last year, I set up a blog for this group (see Wilton Chamber Leads Blog). I did this to gain personal experience helping a small business try their hand at blogging and to give the group members an opportunity to “give it a whirl”, to see for themselves that they really could do it. We’ve had some interest but not a lot. A big reason is that I didn’t stay on top of it by encouraging people to not only try, but to stay with it. Not only that, but we’ve had a number of new members join the group and they haven’t been shown the blog or how to try it.

I’m making a pledge to myself to reengage with this idea. Together with our group leader, who is a believer, I want to kickoff this initiative again. We need to show everyone how they can follow the posts of others and make their own posts. But more than just showing, I need to actively nudge individuals who seem interested and on the edge of “giving it a go” and then stay engaged with them as they “try their wings”.

A Time To Fly
Writing that last sentence reminds me of witnessing a nest full of young birds fledge for the first time. The parents were close by, calling and encouraging the young birds as they, one-by-one, left the security of the perch and tried flying for the first time. Miraculously they all made it!

It’s a stretch, but in a way, that role of being there and encouraging is my role here. That, and unlike the parent birds, actually lending a hand when needed. Hopefully, like the nest of fledglings I saw, our Leads Group will all successfully soar with new found marketing wings.

Has anyone out there had the experience of leading a group into blogging and social media? If so, we’d love to hear about your experience.

Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union

Since this blog is primarily a story about small businesses and organizations using the internet for marketing, or more accurately, learning how to use the internet for more effective marketing, it is important, as in any story, to introduce the main “characters”.

At this time, the most important character in our story is the Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union. I have supported them for about eight years as their “webmaster”. Until late 2011, the web site was their only foray into the world of internet marketing and it was essentially an information reference for its members.

Their membership base of approximately 2400 members is primarily the teachers, active and retired, from three local communities in Connecticut; Westport, Weston and Wilton. Membership is also available to family members of eligible employees.

In September 2011, the management held two listening sessions with members to learn how communications could be improved. The message was loud and clear, especially from the younger teachers; the Credit Union had to do a much better job at using the internet to reach it’s members. One could say those “listening sessions” were an epiphany for the Credit Union. They heard the message! They were committed to respond in a positive way. The problem was “how “. The staff consisted of four; a manager, an assistant manager, and two office administrative persons. None of them had the time to take this on, not to mention the technical background needed. The operating budget did not have the flexibility to hire another staff person for this role.

Because I had been their “internet” person for several years and had been encouraging a move in this direction, they asked me if I could provide the support they needed as an outside contractor. We worked out an arrangement and late in 2011 began with a blog focused on financial matters that would be of interest to young and mid-career teachers.

The blog soon gave way to a weekly e-mail. That project has consumed the time budget we worked out to begin this initiative. But, now that we are about six months “down the road”, the weekly e-mail is taking a little less time, so I am optimistic we will soon be able resume the blog. We also have a Facebook page and a plan to use that in a different way than the e-mails or how the blog will be used.

To summarize, the Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union is a prime example of an organization that is successful in their mission but believes it needs to embrace the internet even more. They do not have the resources to take this step, but they are willing to use an outside resource to, at least partially, provide the resource they need to move into the world of internet marketing.

Does this description of the Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union sound familiar? Are there others who have traveled down this road? Or want to? If so, please comment and let us know. There can be strength in numbers.

For those interested, their web site is www.tritownteachers.org.