5 Marketing Lessons from Mad Men’s Advertising Consultant

Mad Men, the lauded TV series that peered behind the booming advertising scene of 1960s New York, offered great marketing ideas that continue to ring true today. The man behind those ideas was Josh Weltman, an advertising creative director who acted as a co-producer and consultant on the show. I interviewed Josh for a podcast I’m producing, which inspired five compelling marketing lessons for credit unions.

1. They’re Not Buying the Thing

“People are driven to act by their own impulses far more often than by outside forces.” - Josh Weltman

How do potential credit union members view your products and services? They aren’t just interested in the what. They’re buying the experiences that come with it, the way it makes them feel when they use it, the community they feel a part of when they own a product from a particular brand. They’re looking for financial flexibility, not the credit card itself. Their life goals don’t involve applying for a HELOC, they just want the life they’ve dreamed of; how the HELOC gets them there is more important. And there’s no one single variable. Good rates, friendly service, fast and easy access—they’re all part of the buying equation.

The product is not the end. It’s a means to it. Does your credit union’s marketing reflect this?

2. The Four Types of Ads

Advertisements all tend to fall into one of four categories.

  • Introductory ads. Introducing a new product or service requires more than saying what the product does or what it’s for; introductory ads should inspire curiosity. Why should members (or potential members) be interested? Introductory ads can also act as a teaser by withholding information.
  • Trial ads. These create urgency, often through limited time offers.
  • Differentiating ads. These set your credit union apart against your competition.
  • Mutual-love-and-respect ads. This type will appeal to your loyal members with messaging that deepens your relationship with them.

Which one does your credit union use the most? Which one would you like to use more?

3. Can They Live Without It?

“By evoking feelings of curiosity, urgency, familiarity and belonging, great advertising creates brand stories that turn products and services nobody knows of or cares about into products and services somebody somewhere can't imagine living without.”

Plot is when and what events happen, but a story is what happens emotionally.

Is your credit union struggling to get members and prospects to see why they can’t live without your products and services? This is where the trained eye of experts outside of your company—like Raoust—can help.

4. Get in Touch with Your Emotions

“Advertising is not mind control. It’s not about making people want stuff they don’t want or do things they don’t want to do. It’s mostly about persuading people to do a little more of what they’re already doing.”

What’s your target member already doing that would be assisted by your particular credit union’s products, services and programs? What’s a pain point you could address, so when someone views your advertising, they can’t help but feel like someone sees them for who they are? These types of advertisements make competitive financial institutions steam from the ears, angry they hadn’t thought of it first.

5. Know Your Audience

“Brands are missing out on a major opportunity to connect with potential customers if they don't take some sort of emotional route to make that connection,” says Josh.

Great terms and low rates will only take you so far. Does your credit union also offer wonderful, hometown, personal customer service? Hate to break it to you, but every credit union in the country claims that.

Facts tell, stories sell. Is your brand story connecting emotionally with current and potential members?

You don’t have to go at it alone

You are people helping people—and we’re the people helping you. The marketing landscape is always changing. An adaptable partner like Raoust can help you actively seek new strategic tactics and prepare your organization to pivot when necessary.

When’s the last time you took a deep dive into your credit union’s story and the “why” behind your marketing communications? Contact us to learn how our 25+ years in credit union marketing can help grow your brand and tell your story in a fresh way.

Doug Fraser
In addition to copywriting for Raoust+Partners, Doug Fraser is the producer and host of NPR’s What We Do and Podcast Movement’s The Pod Lab.

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