You Are Not Your Target Audience

You, credit union staffer, are a hero. What you do each day improves members’ lives, helping them envision, plan for, and achieve a better future. You’re on the inside of a storied tradition of people helping people.

But sometimes being on the inside can lead to frustration. You know all about the great products and services your credit union offers. You know how valuable these programs are to members and potential members alike. You’re not looking to maximize profits like the big banks, you want to help people achieve better, more fulfilling lives. You’ve brainstormed and produced exciting new materials to get the word out. Why does it sometimes feel like those efforts miss the mark?

The answer might sound too obvious to be true.

You’re a credit union insider, and the very fact that you’re an insider means that you are no longer your target audience.

When you work closely with a brand, you interact with the elements of that brand much more than your target audience. You become immersed in the language, culture, and expression of that brand. Think about it this way: you may enjoy using Facebook every day, but if you worked at Facebook you’d start seeing the platform in a whole new way. What we do becomes part of who we are, especially when what we do is centered around helping people.

This level of immersion can unintentionally lead to a condition called insider boredom, and if you’re unaware that it’s happening it can limit your reach and your ability to help people.

What is insider boredom? As mentioned earlier, being on the inside means you’ve seen, touched, and interacted with the brand exponentially more than your target audience. Insider boredom happens when we forget that we’re not the target audience and begin making decisions based on our preferences, rather than what will reach the people we want to reach. Your members may come into a branch or interact with the credit union online a few times per month, and your potential members may have only interacted with the brand once or twice. Consistency and positive brand experiences are necessary to build equity and trust, and when we make decisions based on the boredom of brand insiders we start to confuse our audience.

Here’s a practical example. That HELOC promotion with the incredible rate? You’ve seen it a dozen times before it launches. You probably wrote the compliance or approved the design. So by the time the emails are sent, the posters are hung, and the handouts are printed, you’ve already moved on to what’s next.

Or maybe you’ve been a part of a rebrand. Remember that shiny new feeling after all the design was done, the colors were chosen, and the signs were replaced? How long until that feeling faded? You’ve become immersed in the new brand and suddenly the colors aren’t as exciting. Or the new symbol isn’t really as sleek or modern as it seemed before. This is when insider boredom can pop up. What if we used a different font? Maybe we need to paint the walls a different color.

When you forget that you’re not your target audience, you stop reaching the people you want to help.

The good news is you’re not alone, we all fall victim to insider boredom. We’re hardwired to seek out novelty and new experiences. When we become aware of insider boredom we can recognize when we’re making decisions that are insider-focused and shift our efforts to reach the people our credit unions help.

Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix or one-time cure for combating insider boredom. It takes commitment to remember each day that you are not your target audience. But just like working out any muscle, the more you do it the easier it becomes.

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