What are you passionate about?

That’s a question my daughters would hear often when they were deciding where to go to college, what to study and what job to take. (Clearly, asking the question has worked out especially well for one of them.)

That question is also the one question with the power to boost your credit union or bank’s bottom line. Here’s why.

Passion identifies target markets

You can’t be all things to all people. As marketing leader Donald Miller says, “Niches lead to riches.” By clearly identifying a target market, your marketing dollars will be more focused and more effective.

For example, IncredibleBank is a small digital-first bank that targets a unique niche: luxury RV owners. They’ve built nearly their entire brand around small business owners with motor coaches. Why? Because they’re passionate about convenience, something small business owners who are constantly on the road are naturally passionate about too.

Passion recruits top employees

Most are familiar with Southwest Airlines and their team of funny, bold and genuinely kind employees. How does Southwest hire the best? They have a clearly defined passion.

As Southwest’s CFO Tammy Romo said to Forbes, “We are driven by our purpose.” Current voluntary employee turnover rate is only 2%, and many of Southwest’s original employees still work for the airline.

When your passion is clearly defined, potential hires are more likely to closely align with you.

Plus, if you’re trying to recruit millennials and Gen Z employees, research says that more than two-thirds of them prefer companies who stand for something. These future employees are passion-driven before you’ve even hired them.

Passion shapes strategic decisions 

“Strategy drives culture” and “strategy drives creative” are phrases you’ll hear often at On the Mark Strategies, especially when we conduct branding workshops for credit unions and banks. However, if you back up the bus even further, you’ll find that ultimately passion drives strategy.

For example, if you’re passionate about the next generation, then you’ll make the strategic decision to build branches in local schools and even place a millennial or two on your board of directors. (I know, what a thought!)

An important note on passion: passion is a team sport. What one executive or one board member is passionate about may not be what’s best for your financial institution as a whole.

Ultimately—and I realize I may have tricked you here—the real question that will raise your bottom line is not “What are you passionate about?” but “What are WE passionate about?”

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