Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: community (page 1 of 3)

April Fool’s – The Most Elaborate Hoax…Or Is It?

“With low rates, minimal fees, and a focus on the community, it has to be a joke, right?”

And thus begins the most intriguing post of the year.

Conveniently shared on April 1st, known world-wide as April Fool’s Day, an unnamed blogger drew all the wrong conclusions. Here’s a piece:

“…planning went deep, as one study found there to be thousands of these institutions across just the United States alone. Estimates put their total member base at 100 million, meaning that one in three Americans are a part of this intricate plot. Imagine the time it took to put this together! Not only that, but all these “credit unions”, as they call themselves, appear to work together. Through something called Shared Branches, a person can walk into a credit union they’ve never met and deposit or withdraw money…from their own account! And you thought Google went overboard with their April Fool’s jokes. A moon base? That’s nothing compared to a nationwide agreement of shared banking.”

They continued in this manner for another few paragraphs before reaching this gem:

“Oh, and there are no additional fees to do this. Tell me that isn’t the most unbelievable gag you’ve ever heard!”

This blogger proceeded to analyze how credit unions are not-for-profit entities, serving their community rather than a room of stockholders:

“Typical banking involves fees. It has to. How else can an institution make any money? With interest rates where they are, fee-structures are essential to maintaining a profitable outlook. But here they claim to be something called ‘not-for-profit’, meaning that all money made after expenses goes back to the members [emphasis original]. They call them dividends. I call it an elaborate prank.”

As you know, this blogger got it all wrong, and credit unions do, in fact, exist. Contrary to that perspective, they do work on a not-for-profit basis, and have at their core the best interests of their membership. It would appear that the unbelievability of these truths were too much for them.

Or, they were right, and the entire thing has been one enormous practical joke. Are you in on it? And, if so, can I make a withdrawal? As the blogger concluded:

“If, by some wild miracle, I am incorrect in these analyses, and credit unions are actually a crucial part of our society, then it is high time for me to find one which I can join. Only then will I be able to learn if the credit union idea is an intricate joke. Or, perhaps, the joke has been on me and the time and money I’ve spent in endless battles with my current financial institution.”

Happy April Fool’s Day, unnamed blogger. And take a look at A Smarter Choice to find a credit union for you. Also, watch out for those pranksters…it seems as if they’ll do anything to pull one over on everyone nowadays!

Happy ICU Day!

Today is International Credit Union Day.  First celebrated in 1960, it…oh, what am I doing?  You know all this already!  But were you aware CUNA has made available loads of resources to best embrace the spirit (and publicity) of the day?  Simply visit CUNA’s ICU Day site for sample social media posts, history, beautiful banners and quotes, along with links to charitable efforts and much more.  Below is a poster which sums it all up.

ICU Day Poster 2015 22x28

Of course, knowing you’re part of something greater can inspire an emotional connection.  Unlike baseball’s World Series, this International celebration really does span the whole planet.

Belize quote

Veteran credit union staff and members may remember when the first ICU Day was celebrated.  Talk to them to empower yourself and others with the true spirit of the effort.
Eisenhower quote

At the end of the day, you can bank anywhere.  Why should a person become a member of your credit union?  Sometimes, going back to your roots and looking to the past for inspiration can create a brighter future.  Happy International Credit Union Day!  I’ll be engaging with credit unions throughout the day on Twitter.  Join the conversation with #ICUDay or directly at @CUNA (their official account) and @JoeCUGeek (that’s me).

You Have A Story

Is your tale that of a gallant knight slaying a fearsome enemy? Or maybe it’s something a bit more tame: A family buried in debt, finding a way out through guidance from their friendly neighborhood Spiderm…I mean, credit union MSR?

No matter if it is one to be shouted from rooftops, proclaimed in a royal hall, or told amongst a group of close friends, you have a story to tell.

A recurring theme here is the challenge to spread a positive message to the wider not-yet-credit-union-membership. It’s not as if the message today is negative, rather, it just doesn’t exist. You’re the nice guy/gal at a party recognized by only a few. Humble, kind, and eager to please others, you’re a person the other attendees would enjoy having nearby, if only they knew.

What you need is a wingman (or wing-lady). Good thing the industry has one! I’ve mentioned them before, and will do so again: CU Social Good. CU Broadcast conducted an interview of their team and discussed how they have become “a formidable bastion of benevolence for credit unions.” A few months prior, I spoke with them as part of a larger story on co-ops working together and determining financial benefits of specific initiatives. If your credit union does not have an account with regular submissions, get on it today!

But sometimes, your wingman helps your friends, too. What’s the strategy then?

It’s great to show the giving of the industry, but I know what’s really driving your efforts: Profitable member growth. The challenge lies in translating good deeds performed nationwide into a reason why local citizens should join your credit union. I’ll credit a commenter on a CU Insight story with the inspiration for the idea. In a previous post, we looked at the benefits of being different, both in your marketing strategy and in how you performed community engagement. A growing number of credit unions are empowering their members to drive the giving, through their purchases or voting on charity efforts. There’s a separate investigation on getting members involved in annual meetings, but let’s leave that for a future discussion. What we want here is to, in essence, take a bigger picture and apply it to your own credit union. (It’s a little like a company selling a product based on a larger trend. Except here, you’re just as involved in the work.)

You can grab a piece of that big picture by exemplifying its efforts locally. Remember that group of credit unions in the Pacific Northwest doing bicycle loans? Refresh your memory here. Their strategy is working to grow engaged members. Plus, the side benefit is that these members see the credit union as a wholly separate type of entity than a large bank.

Going back to that crowded room, so many of its occupants have heard you’re cool, but none know enough to walk over. Break the ice by showing (it’s not bragging) what makes you special. I’ve got your back.

Image credit: http://www.teachthought.com

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