What a game, what a halftime show and what about those commercials! I’ll be honest: I watch the Super Bowl more for the commercials than for the game (even though I’m a huge football fan).

This year’s price for a 30-second commercial averaged a whopping $6.5 million. And that was just for the airtime. That investment doesn’t include production costs. Of course, advertisers were hoping to use that venue to reach a potential audience of 117 million viewers.

Based on that ROI, your first marketing lesson might be to never do a Super Bowl commercial. However, there are plenty of marketing lessons for credit unions and community banks from Super Bowl 56 commercials.

Here are few key concepts (please note these are not necessarily the best or favorite commercials):

Create Mystery (Coinbase)

One of the most talked about issues today is bitcoin. And one of the most talked about Super Bowl ads was Coinbase’s simple use of a QR code.

As Inc. Magazine noted, “it certainly made people curious. Humans are curious, by nature, and it’s hard to resist the temptation to scan the code to figure out what it’s about. In that sense, the ad was brilliant.”

Think about it: did you try and scan the QR code? I know we did. Why? Just to find out what the heck it was about!

Creating mystery is a fantastic marketing tool to use in your toolkit. Rather than just do a straightforward campaign, look for ways to generate excitement and wonder by “dripping” a campaign to your target consumers.

This technique works extremely well when doing an internal campaign with your staff. For example, we are currently working with a client that is changing their name. Prior to their internal launch to employees, they are sending a series of cryptic messages to their staff. This is generating a positive internal buzz and vibe about what is happening.

Tell A Story (NBC Intro/Theme)

So this wasn’t a formal commercial, but is was extremely powerful. Why? Because it blended amazing story telling and video. In this introductory piece, NBC used movie clips with football highlights.

As Halle Berry said, “Football and movies were invented for the exact same reason: to give us things to dream about.”

Movies tell stories. And so should your marketing.

You are not a marketer. You are a story teller. You are not a marketer. You are a screenwriter.

One way credit unions and community banks can tell stories is to tell your member’s or customer’s stories. Use their testimonials. Show how your products and services changed their lives.

As Donald Miller famously says, you are the guide and your customers (members) are the hero. Now that makes for a good story.

Use Generational Marketing (Oikos Yogurt)

This ad features not one, not two but three generations of Sanders. As in Deon Sanders and both his son and mother. The clever use of the family generates laughter and connects on multiple levels.

In many credit unions and community banks, you literally have generations of the same family using you as their primary financial institution. Those are powerful stories (see the point above).

Many local financial institutions also say they are like family or all about family. If that is the case, then show that principle in your marketing.

One simple way to implement this strategy in your marketing is to use multi-generational pictures and videos. With this technique we highly recommend using your own members or customers as well. Family photos and portraits are powerful.

You can also even do a cross promotion where you incent older members with higher deposit rates if they refer a loan for a younger family member.

Reach for Emotions (Kia)

Dogs and animals create emotions. Think of all those classic Budweiser commercials. But who knew even a robot dog could pull on your heart strings? In the spot, you can’t help but root for the dog and hope he overcomes his low battery.

It’s no different when it comes to marketing your credit union or bank. Of course, the problem is as financial institutions, well, we are institutions! Cold. Sterile. Boring.

So look for ways to overcome that hurdle by connecting with people. From a practical perspective, focus on your products’ features and not benefits. What do they do for the member. People don’t care about your rates and your products. They care about themselves and their feelings.

As Maya Angelou famously says, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.”

Applying that quote to marketing means, “People will forget your products, people will forget your technology, but people will not forget how you made them feel.”

There was a lot to learn from the Super Bowl game itself: teamwork, never give up (even if you are trailing in  the fourth quarter) and always throw the ball to Cooper Kupp. But there were also marketing lessons in the commercials themselves. You can improve the way your credit union or community bank markets by creating mystery, telling stories, using generational marketing and  reaching for emotions.

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