Does Your Credit Union Have a Butterface?
Okay, in this age of enlightenment, this may be a little sexist. For those who do not know the male vernacular of which I speak, there is a simple definition of “butterface” best illustrated when in use. So as not to completely repulse our female readers with the juvenile inner workings of the male mind, simply say out loud:
“That girl has a nice body, butterface . . .”
Get the picture?
Tony! Why are you breaking the Bro' Code, man?
Okay, I know that's not nice. I have to believe that women have something similar for men that our agents inside have yet to send out in coded message. However, we will crack your code. It is only a matter of time.
Anyway, I digress.
So what am I talking about anyway?
Websites. Specificallycredit union websites. More specifically, BAD credit union websites. Yes, the technical equivalent of a butterface.
“Gee, it seems like a really cool credit union, butterface. . .”
Yep, that's what they say behind your back.
They do, you know. They really do.
I don't care what people think and I don't care about my website!
See, I kind of live that lifestyle. I wear a lot of plain T-shirts, shorts from Costco, and flip-flops. I used to wear Chuck Taylor All-Stars until I met my wife (see, she is from San Diego and there is a lot of flip-flopping down there and I picked up the habit).
When I am on the road, doing my thing, I like to blend into the background. I like to watch people. Come on, I am 6＞ 2≦ with copper penny-colored hair. It takes a lot for me to blend in! But my wardrobe is also about comfort. I like to be comfortable.
This affinity for personal comfort at the expense of a professional aura has even caused me a little grief. After work I recently stopped by the grocery store that I have been going to since I was eight years old to grab a few things for dinner. I had my laptop with me and I was in the Jeep (no top on means I don't leave my laptop in there). I tossed my laptop into the cart, nodded at the security guard and headed towards the produce aisle.
“Sir！excuse me, SIR!”
I turned to see who was getting yelled at and realized that everyone was looking at me. I looked at the security guard and he was glaring at me. I was a little confused. What had I done? Whatever it was, I needed to fix it quick as the wife and kids were home and getting hungry.
“Yes sir. You will have to leave your bag up front.” My bag? I don't carry a bag. I looked in my cart and saw my laptop case. “Yes sir,” he repeated. “You will have to leave that up here.”
As I looked around I realized that the lines were full of people staring at me. It seemed like the whole produce department was staring at me. I had an unwelcomed spotlight trained on me！the guy who likes to blend in！and I was not looking my best. I became pretty irritated, pretty quickly.
“No, I don't.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Please get the manager.”
“It is store policy, sir.”
“No it's not. If it were, then a sign would be posted at the door and you would have a pile of women's purses next to you. Please get the manager.”
“Sir, it's the policy.”
“Tell you what. I am in a hurry. If it is that important, have the manager come find me. I'm sure you'll be able to point me out.”
That's when I left. I was angry and a little embarrassed. As I was doing my shopping I had a hundred things rolling around inside my head. What just happened? Why did he want my laptop? That's when the sound of my flip-flops on the floor tiles got my attention. That's when I realized that I looked like I was homeless.
Well, okay, not really. But I was in a plain black T-shirt, a dark green pair of cargo shorts and leather flops. I also hadn't shaved in a few days (a bad habit of mine when I am on a tight deadline). I just ran into a store with a laptop case that may or may not be empty. He thought I was a shoplifter！that or Mel Gibson.
See, I know that I am a relatively smart guy, but he didn't know what I do for a living. He didn't know where I live, how much I earn, my wife's inability to be dishonest or tolerate dishonesty in any way (which keeps me honest to a fault). He didn't know that my dad was a cop and that I haven't shoplifted anything since I got caught with a candy bar outside of a Safeway when I was seven years old.
This security guard didn't know any of that. He judged me based on how I looked. I chose to look a certain way that day and was disregarded and disrespected because of it.
He mistreated me and embarrassed me because I like to dress cheaply. Because I was a not representing, outwardly, who I felt I was on the inside.
(Here comes the “but” . . . )
But, when I need to do business！I wear a suit. Some of my suits are a little pricey. See, I might rock out a $20 ensemble when running around and doing errands, but when it is time to get some business done, I never go “cheap.”
When I need to do business I put my best effort into looking professional.
“Let me introduce you to my credit union. She is a butterface but she has a great personality!”
So here is how it works in 2009:
Potential member: “Hey, I think I want to join a credit union. I hear they rock and are better than banks!”
Potential member searches Internet for local credit unions.
Potential member: “Hmm, there are three in my area. Let's check the first one.”
Potential member clicks on the site. “Hmm, nice website. Information is easy to find. Hey! Low rates, too!”
Potential member clicks on next website. “Yikes! What is this? Did a sixth-grader make this site? No way am I going to give these people my money! Seriously, what is going on here? I'm just going back to that last credit union！they seem to know what's going on.”
Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic. But that doesn't make it wrong.
So, am I right?
You have heard of the Internet banks (ING ring any bells?) Or my quirky favorite Internet-only bank (Redneck Bank) and Internet credit unions, right? These are financial service providers that are making pretty good dough just on their good looks (a pretty, functional, and marketing-oriented website with premium products and services).
Well if they can do it, why can't you? If websites don't make money, then how did these financial institutions make it? If we can agree that they might be profitable, then the ROI on the website should have been more than sufficient to offset the costs, right?
“Credit union websites are too expensive！we can't get ours added to the budget!”
That is what I hear most often when I talk about websites. You know what? It's a lie. I know you may believe it, but it is still a lie. This is how I prove it.
If you could make $20,000 and all it would cost you is $2,000！could you find $2,000?
I have yet to find anyone who has said no to that question. Even the poorest credit union can find $2,000 if it can result in $20,000.
A well-designed credit union website is not only a sales tool, marketing tool, and information resource for members and non-members！but a time and resource saver for your employees. Instead of searching for brochures, or hunting through the site, they can type into the search box and find the info. Heck, instead of calling your call center, the member or non-member may find it on their own!
Not only will a well-designed, easy-to-maintain website allow you to more effectively market your products and services, it will allow you to be found on search engines. No matter what you look like on the inside, looks count！just like in a singles bar. Be as pretty on the outside as you are on the inside！you don't have to be a “butterface.”
Tony Mannor is CEO of Andermahr & Company in Stockton, California, a marketing firm that works with credit unions. Contact him at 209-467-4800 or visit www.cuhype.com. Reprinted with permission.
Go back in there wearing a suit and your laptop case - then, see if you get the same reaction! A little social experiment - then blog about it!
Posted by Stanley Cowan on 09/08/2009
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