SAN DIEGO-People overestimate how good looking they are, and how well they drive, but they do not overstate how "fascinating" they are.

Marketing expert Sally Hogshead believes this phenomenon is a result of what people are taught in school-that they need to "dumb down" their personalities and that there is something good about being boring.

"And I think that's sad," she said.

The brain is "hardwired to fascinate," Hogshead said, adding most people need to be taught how to find their competitive advantage. "The brain also is hardwired to be fascinated. During times of fascination the brain is totally relaxed."

Hogshead related the story of a time she went to an amusement park. For one particular attraction patrons were given the choice of an orange ticket versus a green ticket. What was not clear to first-timers was it was the same ride, but bearers of the orange ticket were told they would get a ride that was more intense, more dangerous-and they responded with great anticipation and excitement.

"Are your credit unions giving your members an orange ticket or a green ticket?" she asked a gathering of CU professionals. "The green ticket is just the utility of the credit union, but there is no buzz, no social media generated. When a brand fascinates, people will pay more, have higher engagement and give more loyalty."

It is one thing to know how we see the world, Hogshead continued, noting it is perhaps even more important to know how the world sees us.

'Didn't Get It, And Retreated'

"Somewhere along the line there was something fascinating we wanted and didn't get, so we retreated," she said. "Today, the addictive nature of web browsing has left us with an attention span of nine seconds. Being the best credit union is not enough if nobody notices or cares."

So how can CUs create attention? Hogshead said there are seven triggers of fascination: power, passion, mystique, prestige, alarm, rebellion and trust.

Every time someone communicates they use one of these seven triggers, she explained. But the million-dollar question is: when credit unions are communicating, are they using the "right" trigger in the "right way" to get results?

"If members don't see long-term value, credit unions need to build loyalty by thinking 10 years from now," she advised. "Credit unions need to imbed their members in the organization so they don't want to leave."

According to Hogshead, 90% of introductions fail to make an impression. She asked CU managers and directors to consider what is their credit union's "nine-second anthem"-which is needed in today's short-attention-span society. She said credit unions must be able to tell the public the things that make them different.

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