A series of funny memes is making the rounds on Facebook that for once doesn’t involve cats. Here’s the one that stuck with me most:

 

Credit union and bank marketing strategies can learn from the Starbucks pumpkin spice calendar.

 

I love autumn as much as the next person (maybe even more). Cooler weather after a hot Texas summer, Friday night football, Halloween. However, the mass switch to all things pumpkin spice is a true cultural barometer of the coming of fall. Pumpkin spice cream cheese, pumpkin spice beer, pumpkin spice Oreos, even pumpkin spice Twinkies.

Perhaps the king of Pumpkin Spice Nation, however, is Starbucks with its pumpkin spice lattes.

This year, Starbucks launched the iconic “PSL” on August 28, a full week earlier than 2017 and the earliest official launch to date according to Business Insider.

To say the Starbucks marketing team has built a calendar-dependent cult following would be an understatement.

Starbucks has done a terrific job marking the cultural calendar with something consumers can look forward to and anticipate all year, year after year. This year the move to bring pumpkin spice back early is fueled by more than a desire to serve customers. Forbes reported that the coffee giant now gets more than 50 percent of its sales from cold drinks—not a positive omen for all things warm, pumpkin and spice. To boost figures moving into the fourth quarter, Starbucks is using the calendar in its favor.

Has your credit union or bank tried to accomplish the same goal in its marketing strategies?

No, I’m not saying it’s time to market Pumpkin Spice Used Car Loans (although if you try and it’s successful do me a solid with a shout out!).

What we’re looking for here is a regular event, perhaps tied to a certain part of the calendar, that your consumers can quickly and easily identify as closely associated with your financial institution.

It could be a regular sponsorship of an important community event or festival. AmeriCU (based in Rome, New York) does a terrific job with this and their annual sponsorship of MountainFest (a salute to the military, an important component of the areas they serve). It could be an annual race, charitable fundraiser or anything around which the community revolves.

So before you slip on that favorite hoodie and head to your local Starbucks for a pumpkin spice latte, pause to consider if your credit union or bank has something similar to which the community can gravitate.