And the Main Killer of Marketing Success Is…

Picture this: It’s a warm summer afternoon in your hometown. Two brothers return from the playground to find both their parents had run to the store. Locked out of their home, they did what adventurous young boys do; they climbed onto the roof and shimmied down the chimney to get into their house. When they got to the bottom and crawled out of the fireplace, one of the boys had soot on his face while the other did not. The clean-faced brother immediately went into the bathroom and washed his face. The brother with soot on his face did not. Can you guess why?

Each of their actions was based on the assumption that the other brother was in the same condition as they. The clean-faced brother looked at the soot-covered face of his sibling and assumed his own face was the same. The soot-covered boy didn’t think to wash his face because he was looking at the brother whose face was completely clean. Though their actions were different, they each made the same mistake.

When crafting strategy, messaging, or marketing tactics, we often behave like these imaginary brothers. We assume that we are like other people and they are like us. In your credit union, this all-too-common mistake might lead you to place an ad on a country radio station because that’s what you enjoy listening to. It may cause you to choose a digital marketing strategy over a traditional approach because you are tech-savvy. It could also convince you to adopt a safe marketing strategy because your risk appetite isn’t as high as your board’s.

The assumption that misinformed the brothers is the same assumption that misinforms you, the leader.

Do you ever push pause long enough to put yourself in the shoes of your members—or your team members? Do you take time to look at the world through their eyes, or do you assume that they think just like you? Do you automatically assume that your members have the same preferences you do? Or even worse, do you presume to know the preferences of potential members you hope to attract?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, that could explain why you’re struggling to succeed. These faulty assumptions are the reasons your membership growth is stagnant. Even though you truly believe you are being empathetic toward your members, you’re not. Instead of putting yourself in their shoes; you’re actually putting them in yours.

If you’re looking to make 2019 the year that your credit union turns things around, it’s going to take a fresh approach based on facts, data, and outside perspective. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out on your own. The YMC team is ready to roll up our sleeves and get in the trenches alongside you. Whether it’s a strategic planning session, an ambitious rebranding campaign, or outsourcing your marketing to our team of experts, we are ready.

From strat plans to rebrands, YMC President and CEO, Bo, is passionate about helping financial institutions come up with a winning formula. If you’re ready to go beyond the SWOT, you can email him at

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