Two Seconds To Sell

“Why should I join your credit union?”

Fair question. You probably have a laundry list of answers. Perhaps you lead with rate and service. Perhaps there is a specific niche you serve better than anyone else. Maybe you have a very unique product.

All well and good, but do you know how to communicate your value proposition in 2 seconds or less?

Extensive neuroscience studies, conducted by Mars (yes, the candy company), show that similar marketers now only have about two seconds to capture consumers’ attention in the digital realm. As a company that owns several candy brands (impulse buys for the most part), the marketing team in the Mars communications lab is trying to solve, 1) how to draw attention and 2) quickly create an emotional connection. The two together are the magic formula for triggering impulse purchases.

“You don’t go to the store with gum on your shopping list,” says Sorin Patilinet, part of the Mars marketing and communications team. “We want to reach as many people as possible to build this memory structure, which will be triggered at the point of purchase, especially since half of our categories are mostly impulse buys, like chocolate and gum.”

So credit union services don’t seem to be an impulse buy like gum or a pack of Skittles as you’re standing in line at the grocery store. Or are we?

I would argue that as you build your credit union marketing plan to acquire new members, you should operate under the same assumption as Mars and follow the same strategy. Most consumers are passive about their financial services provider. Every bit of research over the past decade continues to show that even as people have a strong dislike for their bank or credit union, they’re not apt to make a switch. (Consider the many follies of Wells Fargo and people continue to stay with them!)

If your marketing isn’t creating the ROI you were hoping for, consider the data from a Mars neuroscience study that is now in its fifth year. They analyzed more than 130 digital ads on various platforms and of various durations using facial coding that can detect attention and emotion of the person viewing the ad. Their findings so far?

“Marketers would be shocked if they knew how little active attention some of their executions are getting,” Patilinet said. “They think that people watch all the 15-seconds, and then they find out that in some cases, it’s only two seconds.”

All of that time, effort and marketing budget only to be ignored! No wonder you’re not seeing the return from your credit union marketing plan.

So what is Mars’s solution in their marketing? The same concept we follow at YMC.

  1. Capture the attention of the consumer. Talking about you (your rate, your product, your service, your new app) is not the answer. It’s talking to the consumer, engaging them by asking a question or a statement that punches them in the gut. For example, “Are you currently living paycheck to paycheck?”
  2. Follow that gut-punch by eliciting emotion. Perhaps the follow up is something like: “Does that leave you feeling stressed?”

Mars has proven that by building emotions, you can encode your distinctive value proposition into the consumer’s brain much faster.

I challenge you to walk out into your branch and evaluate your credit union marketing message. Does it lead by diving right into a product or rate? Does it emotionally connect with a consumer, highlight a problem and solve a problem? Most likely not in a way that connects with consumers. Most likely only in our mind only can we claim a job well done.

At Your Marketing Co., we are not only credit union marketing professionals; we are students. Constantly reading, learning, asking questions, gaining perspective… not only to better ourselves but to provide our 30+ credit union clients across the country with the best knowledge, ideas and solutions to their growth problems.

Are you trying hard to meet the goals of your credit union, but are falling short? Does it leave you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed? Maybe your strategy needs a reset…. We have limited space to accept new credit union clients into the YMC family in 2021. If you’re frustrated with your past results, curious about new ideas to serve your members and grow, and willing to try something new, email me and let’s talk.

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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