The mutual difference

The difference between mutuals and for-profits can be difficult for marketers to articulate and demonstrate. How do you tell your “story” in a print or TV ad? And how do you demonstrate the difference when dealing with members and regulators?

In Articulating the Co-op Difference, Benjamin Rogers argues that sustainability, community empowerment and other moral arguments can be more persuasive than rates, bank convenience and product range in certain communities.

In Credit Union vs Big Bank: An Experiment, Maya Bourdeau tries to demonstrate the difference in action by comparing opening a new account at a credit union with the process at a bank: the credit union experience was warm, inviting, and personable and the Big Bank experience was “colder, to the point, and business-like, in both the good and bad sense”. She says the process shows the difference in part but the credit union employee did not adequately tell the whole credit union story.

In Confessions of an Advertising Man well-known advertising agent David Ogilvy effectively used the analogy of a life cycle, “the inevitable pattern of rise and decline, from dynamite to dry rot”: “we can all name famous [financial institutions] which are moribund. You hear demoralising whispers in their corridors, long before the truth dawns on their clients”. Are mutuals the “new”: ambitious, hard working, full of dynamite? Should that be part of the story told to members and regulators?

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