Storytelling works — it builds bridges and drives marketing growth. But too many promotions fail when they are rooted in the story of your great products, services and staff. In your member’s story, they want to be the hero. After all, they are the main character in their own daily lives. Effective marketing empowers each member to be the most impressive hero they can be.

All heroes have goals. Problems get in their way, preventing them from getting what they want. Successful marketing empathizes with this dilemma.

Here are four ways to be sure you’re connecting with your member’s inner champion:

1. Talk about the problem they’re experiencing

Many campaigns gloss over the problem stage of the story in an attempt to avoid negativity. But this leaves members without context. Solutions don’t simply exist; they exist to resolve a challenge. A solution without a problem is meaningless.

Outlining the problem your product or service solves demonstrates understanding, makes a connection and builds trust in your expertise.

For example, you might acknowledge the challenge of living paycheck to paycheck with something like: “Saving is hard. We got you.” Or talk about the car-buying experience: “Tired of getting taken for a ride? Our loan team finds financing you can trust.”

2. Help them visualize their journey with you

Describe how your member’s life will improve after they use your product or services. Promoting home improvement loans? Help members imagine their outdoor kitchen or extra living space. Advertising your auto loans? They will have more left in their budget with a lower payment.

Your member wants to move forward, and your content can show them the pathway you have developed for their success.

3. Embrace your role as a guide

“When you counsel someone, you should appear to be reminding him of something he had forgotten, not of the light he was unable to see.”
– Baltasar Gracian, Spanish philosopher

Statements that echo what members have already learned are more effective than financial industry jargon or a focus on your institution. When you are Glinda the Good Witch – not Dorothy — your credit union becomes the support your members need to conquer their difficulties. “You already know our rates are competitive. Get your share of the good life you’ve earned.”

4. Focus exclusively on the member’s point of view

Members don’t care about the regulatory hoops you’ve jumped through or your strategic planning sessions. Some marketers talk about their products as if it’s the consumer’s job to solve the problem of decreased revenue. Similarly, product descriptions often touch on features, but leave out the applications and benefits. Even international brands are recognizing this shift: BMW recently changed their tagline from “the ultimate driving machine” (company-focused) to “sheer driving pleasure” (consumer-focused).

Here’s a credit union example: “Do you struggle to find time to manage your money? BillPay automates your monthly bills, saving you up to 24 hours per year!”

See how the focus stays on the member? Telling people what they get, not what you provide, is a small but important distinction.

It’s easy to fall into the habit of marketing ourselves as the hero – we know more about our own story than the member’s. But members who are supported and empowered to conquer the problems they experience will engage with you more and ultimately help grow your institution.