Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: co-ops

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

Say My Name!

Last March, I composed a post called A Loan By Any Other Name. The thesis was that as long as your members embraced your services, who cared what they called them? You could be, “that car pay thing”. As long as the auto loan was paid each month, specifics didn’t matter. I’ve decided to revisit the topic after learning more about partnerships and the co-op environment. Whereas in that discussion, I addressed product names, here we will look at the name use of the entire institution.

What’s in a name? I suppose about the same as a motto. What’s the motto? Nothing, what’s a motto with you? (I can’t resist my Disney references)

Nearly all of our partner credit unions have undergone a name change at some point in their history. Sometimes, it is to reflect a new affinity group or open charter. Other times, it is to clarify their mission to the membership and community. Most are good, some, fantastic. Is there an inherent benefit to a stylized name over “Such and Such Community Credit Union”? Depends on market coverage, size, and other factors better for your board to address than me.

The important part of your name is that it gets used, and in the right situations.

Think of a company with which you’ve had unsatisfactory dealings. Now say their name out loud. How do you feel? Uptight, frustrated, angry? What about a company you love? Don’t be shy, speak up! Better? Perhaps even the sound of their name made you smile.

Which reaction do your members have when vocalizing your credit union? Or worse, do they not even know?

Your members may see your name in different ways. Some, as a bill pay entry only. Others, their financial family. With a bit of networking on your end, that name can gain some serious value!

If a member uses your name in a positive light, that’s a referral, and it holds tangible value. Building on the stories in “Credit Unions, Spelled C-o-m-m-u-n-i-t-y“, helping each other comes by working together. Seek out responsible businesses (and fellow cooperatives) in your local area. Work out incentives your members can receive just by saying your name. Perhaps it’s 10% off dinner or a complimentary admission to a local museum. In return, offer new member programs for the staff or volunteers at these venues. Be creative in the arrangements! At the end of the day, both sides benefit, and your name spreads with a smile.

The next time they say your name could be for a home mortgage.

Image credit: lifeingroup5.com

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