Stop Chasing Your Ideal Member

Couple chasing each other on beach

Credit unions have been conditioned to identify their captive audience and market to their ideal member. You’ve probably gone through some sort of exercise to build a consumer profile that classifies your member’s basic demographics to what influences her buying decisions.

Perhaps you’ve given your ideal member a name, such as “Carol.” The belief is if we market to Carol, we’ll attract more people who share her age, gender, marital status and income bracket.

But then it fails.

Then we react. Maybe our reach was too narrow, so we broaden our audience. Perhaps our marketing wasn’t clear enough, so we add more words. Maybe we weren’t clever enough, so we use photos of piggy banks, stacked coins and dangling keys.

If our ideal member is right, something else must be wrong.

And you’d be right. But too often marketers head down the wrong path.

What your credit union needs is to recognize your ideal member’s ideal self. We all have a cognitive bias called the Halo Effect where we look for positive traits.

Not to dig into gender stereotypes or the objectification of the female body in advertising, but we are all predisposed to be more generous to those we are attracted to, admire or respect. Truly, we can’t deny that model Charlize Theron draws us closer to Dior J’Adore or that George Clooney makes us wonder if our kitchen countertop needs a Nespresso in addition to our Keurig.

Meanwhile, there is a Horn Effect, where a negative trait can lead us to believe other negative traits must exist. Procter & Gamble’s Head and Shoulders shampoo had it right when in the 1980s the brand exclaimed, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Am I advocating your credit union needs to land a celebrity endorsement? Well, it wouldn’t hurt, but no. What I am suggesting is use familiar language, get to the point fast, give someone a reason to go to your website, and add attraction (aka: market to your ideal member’s ideal self).

Let’s take a look at Chick-fil-a’s current campaign, “The Little Things.” It took a lot of guts to move on from their whimsical cows. The power of testimonials cannot be denied, and the fast service restaurant is using them brilliantly.

If you have seen any of the Chick-fil-a’s spots, chances are you are nodding your head in agreement. While we are inspired and connect with these stories, Chick-fil-a didn’t just turn a camera on and say, “go.” That would be very raw and uninteresting.

Instead, these real customers are on a comfy red coach, well mic’d up and extremely well lit, and made up to look their very best. Their stories are well written, there’s a bouncy, fun tune playing in the background, and if you pay attention to the fine print, the customer and employee are paid for their testimonial.

How different would we feel if there was a crackling mic, jumpy video, or a bunch of “ums” and “uhs?” It pays to do advertising well, and as Dave Chappelle points out, sometimes, “keeping it real goes wrong. “

If you are a small to mid-sized credit union, do you need big budget production? No. You just need to be mindful of your ideal members wants and desires. In fact, you can go too far in the wrong direction, where your brand is seen as highly adept but out of reach for your ideal member.

Here’s one last tidbit for how to speak to your ideal member’s ideal self. Let’s say you are marketing investment and retirement services. It’s easy to envision a nurturing woman who is slowing down helping to raise grandchildren. Although your ideal member may be truly content with this lifestyle, it’s probably not her ideal self. She may actually identify more with being active, sexy and living healthy. The glasses and crow’s feet may be here to stay, but age doesn’t define her.

Go beyond identifying the ideal member. Help members see the best version of themselves, and how your credit union can help them live up to their potential.

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche


Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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