Oh oh, Missed a Step!

Wouldn’t you think that I would learn from my own experience? I would think so, but I just caught myself NOT doing that! Not a good example.

Finding My Voice was My First Step
On my first post, I talked about how appropriate the exercise of “Finding Your Voice” was as the place to start developing a blog. I believed it then, and I believe it now. On my third post, I described an important client, the Tri-Town Teachers Credit Union and our efforts to develop and implement a content marketing strategy. I said then that a blog was an important component of that strategy and we hoped to get that going soon.

Tri-Town Apple blog
Well, that time is now. We are moving toward the regular publishing of posts on the “Tri-Town Apple”, (the name of their blog), beginning in September. Now, from my previous experience, I would have thought one of the first things I would do is work out the completion of my “Finding You Voice” outline, (part of that first post).

It didn’t happen.

Missed an Important Step
That was probably because our plan is to request and use content contributed by several professionals (e.g. financial planning, insurance, real estate). I anticipated working from their lists of the content that could be provided and developing an editorial calendar based on that material. The problem is that the professionals didn’t really know what I was looking for, and quite frankly neither did I. Why? Because the Finding Your Voice exercise and documentation had not been done.

That became very obvious to me after I began working on Finding Your Voice for the Tri-Town Teachers blog. There were a number of points on the document outline that I had not previously thought about or addressed.

My Takeaway – “Always complete a Finding Your Voice document for a content marketing strategy development, no exception!”

Work to Do
So where are we? I have drafted the Tri-Town Apple Finding Your Voice. Since I want to review this with the credit union team, I won’t get into much detail here (and you probably don’t want to read it anyway), but I will list 3 points that clearly we have to address as we go forward. They are at the heart of a content marketing strategy:

“What are the key needs of the audience

  • A financial institution to provide convenient, low-cost, full-service banking
  • Prudent family financial planning and execution
  • Assistance in preparing for the cost of higher education
  • Advice and service that helps them financially prepare for retirement

Are they looking for answers?

  • The assumption is yes, but we have little evidence or feedback that backs that up.

If so, where?

  • At this time we do not have this knowledge.”

Love to Hear Back
Is this an isolated experience, or are there others who have gone through a similar process? Am I right; are those last three points the critical foundation for content marketing? I’d love to hear from others.

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

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.