Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: community (page 1 of 4)

Is Your Credit Union Sending Members the Wrong Message?

Originally published on CUInsight.com

This post might not be for you. Or, it could be exactly what you and your credit union team need.

Inspired By: Someone Else’s Faux Pas

I’ll be honest; the inspiration came from a local chamber of commerce, not credit union. So, it’s possible none of you are making this mistake. Unless you are…

We’re going to talk about messaging. Public perception. How you convey yourselves to your target audience. Be it your members or the community at large. Just as it can raise positive awareness, publicity can paint an undesirable picture. I saw this happen with a large chamber of commerce in my area. Pretty sure they didn’t notice the faux pas. So what happened?

Who’s Your Target Audience? (ie. Who do you serve?)

Theater Seating
Who would attend your CU’s show?

First, let’s back up and ensure we are all on the same page. Whether you’re a chamber of commerce or credit union, who is your target audience? Exactly.

Local businesses and their staff, residents, and those you wish to attract to the area.

Who do you serve? Well, your members.

When these two things line up, you can better pursue your mission.

The “Event”

In the case of this chamber of commerce, they held a major event, complete with ribbon cutting by the mayor, to celebrate the opening of…a Krispy Kreme.

Now, I don’t know if their stores are franchise or corporate, yet think about it. Is this the message they really want to promote? That a big, multi-national corporation gets special treatment and recognition, while thousands of local businesses, each with their own unique stories to tell, get ignored?

To clarify, this isn’t something they do for every new business opening, even of chamber members.

Perception Matters

Happy Bearded Man at Desk with Be Happy Note on Forehead
Tell me you wouldn’t want to recognize these dedicated goofballs?

In real estate, the oft-repeated phrase is: “Location, location, location.”

Here, could we say it’s “perception, perception, perception”?

If an institution talks about being there for the “little guys”, then makes a big deal out of the exact opposite, what do you think?

It comes across as hypocritical towards the local businesses they espouse to promote and support.

Where is the event for the local business whose staff and owner overcame enormous struggles to be successful?

Or even to just open their doors?

Like I said, you might not be making this mistake. But in case you are…awareness is a good thing.

PS – This is a great time to solicit stories from members about the greatest challenges they have. Then choose one (or more) and do something to help.

Image credit (because what says recognition and celebration like an anthropomorphized pineapple?!): Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

A Mission You Can Bank On

Originally published on CUInsight.com

A recent post, Giving Back Has ROI, Too, linked your charitable efforts with your growth strategy. You can do the most for all parties when your “good” aligns with your mission. It keeps everyone more engaged, provides the best opportunities for cross-promotion, and clearly defines your purpose in the community.

Already well-aligned with the areas of community you support? That’s great! You can go even further.

Your product lineup is boring. It’s the same as every other credit union and bank. Checking, savings, lending, and maybe investments. On their own, these provide no differentiation or excitement. However, what if you designed these offerings to directly benefit those you help? A successful strategy can help gain new (profitable) members while making a difference beyond contributions.

A previous post dove into this concept with two interviews. One was of a credit union in California, CCCU. The other, Vancity, out of Canada. Both integrated their giving into their products. The former supported local students with scholarships, using funding from interchange fees. The latter donated a portion of their profits from their credit cards. Both times, members have a direct hand in the positive impacts of their credit union. In fact, if not for the members’ actions, these contributions would never have occurred.

Here’s another way to integrate closely with your core mission. A credit union local to me, Grow Financial, uses a leaf as their logo. This was not a random choice by the board. It was selected for two reasons (of which I’ve learned). The first you’d expect: I want my money somewhere it can “Grow”, and leaves are a tangible symbol of growth. The second is for their environmental focus. Grow’s headquarters is LEED certified (uses less resources to run, built with local materials, maintains high indoor air quality, etc.). They support environmental charities. Being “green” is who they are.

How about you? What’s your raison d’etre? Now it’s time to brainstorm how you can merge that into your “boring” banking solutions. Maybe that means working with one in your community (or a variety if serving large areas). Maybe that means starting your own! Besides making a positive impact, it can rally existing members and attract new ones!

Image credit: http://globe-views.com/dreams/charity.html

Giving Back Has ROI, Too

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Does your credit union give back? That’s a silly question. But does your community support program intricately tie in with member engagement?

A friend of mine used to work for the local chapter of the American Heart Association. After a few years there, she started her own company. It brings non-profits together with companies whose mission aligned with theirs. Essentially, she is a charity to corporate matchmaker.

At first glance, this seems pretty simple. Find company with money (usually through a foundation), bring together with non-profit which needs money. Now pay me a small consultant fee. Not so fast. It turns out, companies started looking at their give back campaigns differently. Instead of just “doing a good thing”, they wanted said good thing to do more. If we’re spending money, the thought process goes, why not have it improve employee satisfaction? Or serve as cause-based marketing to our current and prospective clientele? And charities began to have the same thoughts.

Just as two random single people are not necessarily a good match, the same goes between companies and charities. My friend learns about the core mission and motivations of every client before recommending a pairing. That way, everyone is more engaged, supportive, and excited about the alignment.

Take your credit union. Say you offer a need-based mortgage assistance program. Partnering with a pet rescue charity is fine. Woof. Meow. But imagine if you aligned with a non-profit which helps place struggling and displaced families into low-cost and subsidized housing? Their mission and that of your credit union are the same. You’re a match. And it shows with staff who are excited to volunteer and talk about it to their members (who are then encouraged to help where they can). Heck, some of those members might even be beneficiaries of the charity. Think of the legen-wait for it-dary social media campaign you could set up. So much good can be done for so many, and your credit union can grow in the process. I think it’s safe to say all the families helped by the charity would become members of your credit union. And based on how you treat them like family, they’re not likely to leave. In fact, they’ll probably tell their friends and family about you.

When you get out of the daily grind and remember why you exist, these types of alliances seem so obvious. And it can give your entire team the motivation to serve at their peak abilities. Giving back really does have an ROI.

Since this post is already too long, a future one will dive into some stories of credit unions following this path. Spoiler: Their staff and members love it. So does the bottom line.

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