Shalini Kantayya - 1During CUNA’s Marketing Management School opening session, Shalini Kantayya, an independent filmmaker, shared her ideas regarding how credit unions are similar to independent filmmakers. She noted that independent films are competing with the giant Hollywood blockbusters just like credit unions are competing against the large national banks.

“We must share our story with the world,” Kantayya said. She noted that one of the absolute keys to marketing is telling good stories. “Story leads to action. We don’t act because we don’t feel. Our goal as storytellers (and marketers) is to move the heart and get them to feel something.”

So how do you tell good stories? Kantayya suggested you answer three questions:

(1) Who is your audience?

“You must frame your story,” Kantayya said. Just like in her films, the audience is the hero she suggests that consumers are the audience. She noted that we work in an industry that is fact based. Therefore we need to relate better with people through stories.

(2) How do you create compelling characters?

“Don’t just use statistics and numbers in your marketing,” she noted. “Instead, tell a story about a single mom that no one thought could get a loan.” People tend to like stories about themselves so tell those stories in short form with real people.

(3) How do you demonstrate dramatic conflict?

“Every good story has a conflict,” Kantayya said. “Think of Darth Vader versus Obi One Kenobi in Star Wars.” As an example, maybe one of your members wants a mortgage but was denied by three other financial institutions and your credit union granted her the loan. “Show how your credit union has a vision for a different world.”

In addition to answering those questions, Kantayya offered three steps to telling good stories:

(1) What do we want the audience to know?

She suggested that we strengthen our language. Rather than giving facts and figures, give emotional facts. “There is a limit to the number of facts a person can absorb at once; don’t give more than three pieces of information with your marketing and stories.”

(2) How do we want the audience to feel?

You must communicate your authentic presence through your story. “It’s not about giving a list of 10 statistics in three minutes,” she says. “Focus on what moves you.”

(3) What do you want the audience to do?  

“There has to be a call to action in anything we say,” Kantayya noted. “It becomes more about the larger value of you asking them to enroll in what you want them to do. They are joining because they share values with you.”

 “It’s all about how you tell the story,” Kantayya concludes.