One of the best business books I’ve read in the past several years is The Referral Engine by John Jantsch. If you haven’t had a chance to read the book or my post about it, make sure you check it out.

Jantsch has followed his best seller about how to get consumers to refer your business with an equally compelling read: The Commitment Engine. His new book focuses not just on getting more referrals but getting more commitments. For credit unions or banks struggling with member and customer retention this is a critical issue. The Commitment Engine is full of nuggets financial institution executives can glean.

Below are some of the key points Jantsch makes and how we can apply them.

(1)    Focus on clarity, culture and community. Jantsch believes all business success is boiled into three words: clarity, culture and community. By clarity, he means the one thing your business does better than anyone else. By culture he means “who you are” (and he notes that every business has a culture). By community, he means more than just your customer: community refers to employees, mentors, vendors and even competitors.

  • Application: At your next management team meeting discuss “what is the one thing we do better than any other financial institution in our market.” If you don’t have an answer, begin working on your strategy to develop one.

(2)    Marketing touches everything. “Marketing in its fully realized sense pervades every element of a business,” Jantsch says. That pretty much nails it. He goes on to emphasize the importance of marketing by noting. “Using the broadest definition of the term, anything that has even the slightest impact on a customer or prospect is considered marketing.” Jantsch found that the most successful organizations were marketing driven companies.

  • Application: What role does marketing play in your credit union or bank? Be honest in your answers. Does marketing have a seat at the strategic table or is it just seen as an expense? How involved is marketing in other areas of your organization (IT, operations, branches, H.R., etc.)?

(3)    The new four Ps of marketing. The traditional 4Ps of marketing are product, price, place and promotion. Because we are in a new marketing era, Jantsch argues there are now new 4Ps to marketing: passion, purpose, (value) proposition and personality. He argues that the new 4Ps are more about experience than selling. Focusing on these four traits means you are building trust with consumers. Jantsch believes that all four of these “Ps” are actually linked together.

  • Application: Develop a value proposition for your financial institution around  your passion and your purpose. For more information about how to create one, check out the post “The Worth of a Value Proposition.”

(4)    Branding is about the experience. “Unless you’re Apple, Target or say, Proctor & Gamble, your brand isn’t as much about product design, pricing, strategies, brand messages and advertising as it is about the experience people have when they call your office, visit your store, or receive your product,” Jantsch says. Every interaction consumers have with your financial institution impacts the experience you are giving them.

  • Application: Review all touch points consumers have with your brand. This includes your website, applying for a loan, visiting a branch, etc. View those tasks from the experience lens: what is it like to actually use your products or services?

Those are just four points Jantsch touches on that helps financial institutions—there are many more that will help you learn how to turn your credit union or bank into a commitment engine. Jantsch sums up his philosophy this way, “marketing is essentially getting someone who has a need to know, like and trust you to purchase your product.”

One of the best ways to improve your marketing so that consumers will actually know, like, trust and use your credit union or bank for their financial services is to read The Commitment Engine.