On Wednesday morning, Andrew Davis — CEO of Monumental Shift Inc. — gave attendees of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ REACH 2023 conference a unique view of how credit unions can use unique content marketing to acquire new members, originate more loans, open more accounts, and use the curiosity of relatively small audiences to generate proven outsized returns.
(View and download event photos from the REACH 2023 Photo Galleries)
In “The Influence Pyramid: How Clever Brands Leverage Tiny Audiences to Deliver Outsized Results,” Davis looked at some of the most unique and recent business-case marketing industry examples of “nano-influencers.” These are individuals who influence a brand or product/service online by engaging in rarely asked questions (RAQs) — not frequently asked questions (FAQs), the old paradigm — via chats, blog articles, and discussion forums.
“The real question in content marketing is: When are these individuals going to actually turn into new members?,” Davis said. “Basically, when will our efforts convert someone into a qualified lead or member? Unfortunately, it can take several months using FAQs.”
Credit union marketers have no doubt spent a huge amount of time trying to gain attention online versus earning trust from individuals and search engines. They try to answer an audience’s FAQs through posts, blogs, and question-and-answer lists, which is becoming outdated.
“The truth is, we can’t keep answering consumers’ FAQs. We need to start answering RAQs — their rarely asked questions,” Davis said. “These aren’t the generic questions that Google will point you to, because so many people have already asked them. Nope — they are certain questions asked by certain people who then have an outsized influence on others.”
Commercetools, a German company founded in 2013, is a great example. Through simple articles and blogs within the ecommerce marketing industry, this start-up started blogging about separating the front end from the back end within ecommerce platforms and digital operations, becoming a $9 million firm by 2017. Eventually, its content birthed a buzzword that went viral to describe the innovative ideas it was playing with: “headless commerce.”
They used this phrase to throw punches and engage in debate and dialogue within their industry online over time. Eventually, the question “What is headless commerce?” on Google became a dominant FAQ because it started out as a low-volume RAQ, with senior managers in the ecommerce industry asking about it online and becoming influencers via their organic questions. It helped propel Commercetools to become a $1.9 billion firm by 2023.
Davis’s point: “FAQs power the practitioner, but RAQs shape the marketplace. RAQs leverage the power of top-down marketing promotion. This is a marketing strategy in which the decision to try a service, buy a product, or support a cause is encouraged at the highest level. It’s all about earning trust by understanding who moves the marketplace.”
Credit unions need to embrace the “influence pyramid” and ask who is moving the marketplace and what questions should be answered to get their brand recommended by nano-influencers. On the pyramid, there is the size of audience (largest possible at the bottom and smallest at the top) and lead quality (lower quality at the bottom and higher quality consumer leads that will convert faster at the top). For example, in business-to-business marketing, the C-suite is at the top; then executives on the next level down; then managers and then practitioners at the bottom. Getting the C-Suite and executives at the top to ask an RAQ online is the key.
When it comes to business-to-consumer marketing for credit unions, “We don’t need to create more and more content,” Davis said. “We need to shape our audiences’ questions with the kind of specific content we have already created for those specific questions. What if we uncovered RAQs for credit union members? Who is influencing decisions at the highest levels in your world?”
Red Ants Pants is another great example. Founder Sarah Calhoun, an environmental scientist, grew a $20 million business form the ground up simply by asking an RAQ: “Why aren’t there any outside work pants and work-wear designs for women?” Her question eventually went viral, starting a brand-cult following — gaining tens of thousands of nano-influencers online and in the media.
“You can use this exact same structure in your credit union for RAQs,” Davis said. “All you need to do is find the people who are asking something and use top-down promotion — turning the ‘I wish,’ ‘I found,’ and ‘I love,’ into the ‘I bought.’ The ‘I bought’ is your pro-sumer (pro-consumer) that you eventually create because you answered RAQs from nano-influencers online.”
Some RAQs and commentary blog articles/comments in the consumer financial services world are:
Davis added: “They want real answers — the headless commerce type of answers. You don’t get attention unless you earn their trust first.”
In the end, credit unions and marketers in the industry can embrace top-down promotion instead of just answering FAQs. They need to seek out and answer RAQs.
“You can earn trust through others down the pyramid faster,” Davis added. “You just need to find the questions Google can’t answer. Your job is to answer them. That’s the key to the influence pyramid.”
REACH is one of the credit union industry’s premier annual events, attracting leaders and system partners from across California, Nevada and the United States. This year it’s held from October 22 – 26 at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV!