Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: credit unions (Page 1 of 5)

If Not Here, Then Where?

Every week, a new post appears like magic (I might have a fundamental misunderstanding of how this site works). It probably won’t surprise you to hear that each article is written to meet a specific length criteria. How do I come to this magic number?

Average reading speed for comprehension is between 200-400 words per minute. Posts are typically between 400-600 words in length. It is scientifically fair to say I ask for no more than 3 minutes a week of your attention. You’re busy, and a long essay is not on your radar. My goal is for the average post to be “just right” for your reading enjoyment. If not, please let me know!

What about in-between posts? Am I just holed up in some basement, tooling around on the latest technology? No, that’s ridiculous. I live in Florida and we don’t have basements. So are you saying there is something even shorter than posts? There’s actually two things! One is my newest category, CUbit, where I present topics that just must be discussed in the moment.  But the other? If it’s not on the site, then where? Never fear, Twitter is here! (Lost In Space reference, anyone?)

Twitter is where I reside. Which is great for your length challenges. Nothing written will be more than 140 characters, and if that’s too long, then here’s a clip you may enjoy.

An article is one-way; I say something, you read it, and maybe someone makes a comment. However, on Twitter, a post can directly mention a credit union or other user, or be a part of a larger saved search with various hashtags. It’s a participatory experience by nature. And the topics vary widely, from IT to space to credit union stories. The best way to understand is to join. By following @JoeCUGeek, you see my own tweets, as well as those I retweet from others. Some of my best work comes in 140 characters or less, if I do say so myself. Then be sure to follow other influencers within the industry and even branch out to your own interests. Keep in mind, the more you follow, the less you’ll see from each (it’s a single timeline, so the more users, the more posts).

While I share content on this site about once a week, my Twitter account remains active each day. So, if the biggest problem in your life was too little CU Geek, here’s your solution!

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A Tale of Caution and Frustration

Are you successful? How do you define it? From your member’s perspective, it could be in the amount of money you help them save. For your team, they may consider community engagement an important qualifier. Either way, success does not come by accident. It’s a deliberate result of focused acts.

Given that understanding, here’s a question: Is your credit union successful because of or in spite of your efforts?

I’ve run into a few companies which fall under the latter classification. By way of monopoly, past performance, or other factor, they ring in improving results each quarter no matter how they operate. “I bet he’s talking about the cable company,” you think, and you would be right. Each of these mega-corporations have set up a situation where they cannot fail. Want to see TV? Buy from them. Want to skip TV and just get online? Buy from them. How about a phone line? Yep, buy from them. And when your customers don’t have a choice, service can suffer with negligible financial impacts.

But credit union members have a choice. Some would say it’s A Smarter Choice. So obviously these risks don’t apply.

Only they can. Consider this: A member will tolerate inconveniences up to (but not exceeding) the level of perceived inconvenience it would take to move their finances out of your institution. In other words, the more services a member has, the more troubles it will take for them to leave.

Read that again. A member using you as their PFI may tolerate more issues than one with a single service. The solution? Empower your staff to relate, understand, and solve the problem as if it were their own.

That’s where the greatest challenges lie. In the aforementioned large company, each person I speak with tries to help, but none are empowered to see it from my position. I’ve been told the rate I have is impossible, though it can be seen on previous bills. Same with service combinations: “I’ve been here 7 years and never seen those put together.” Without saying so outright, I have been called a liar numerous times, despite the evidence being in their own system. For a company specializing in information technology, their own information is pretty spotty.

How do you handle member issues? Can every person on staff make substantive change, resolving problems in a single session, or, if not, able to call back to update the member?

Your members chose a credit union for a reason. Most of the time, everything is fine, and your member is satisfied. Sometimes, though, an issue will arise. How you handle it defines your member’s opinion towards the credit union. Five years of perfect service can be negated with one poorly handled problem.

It’s when things go wrong that it is most important for you to show how different you are. Be successful because of your efforts!

Or, consider becoming an effective monopoly. I hear the cable industry is a good choice.

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Beyond Your Bank

40 million people in the U.S. belong to one of these. Over 100 million people hold membership with this. Enjoy the outdoors? Chances are, you’ve purchased from the largest of its kind in America.

What do these mysterious organizations have in common? They are all cooperatives. The first? Electric co-ops, where members own the entire distribution network. The second you should recognize: Credit unions! Finally, that last one is a bit surprising…REI, the outfitters, and the largest consumer cooperative in the country.

Besides being interesting factoids for your next trivia competition, how can this knowledge help?

Before answering, let’s take a step back. A few weeks back, I spoke with staff at CU Social Good, where they are collecting hard data of credit unions’ positive impacts on their communities. They lamented the challenges in getting them to “brag” about their accomplishments, which is why they’ve created a site doing just that. Remember, credit unions don’t like to talk about their community efforts. What can I say, they’re modest! However, it was not lost on anyone at CU Social Good that there was significant value going unrecognized.

Filene Research Institute set out to understand the situation. They conducted a study on co-op partnerships. Yes, cooperatives cooperating. Turns out, there’s opportunity to be had!

You can read the major results of the study on Filene’s site (it’s well-worth the read), but here’s the gist: Credit unions can grow by working with other cooperatives. In fact, it is the primary differentiator they can embrace between themselves and for-profit banks. The possibilities are significant (my examples):

  • Working with a food co-op to offer members an easy place to pick up their weekly produce (and encourage to join the CU)
  • Helping finance the startup costs involved with a housing initiative aimed at putting dry roofs over more residents
  • Provide additional savings for your electic co-op as a member paying through your CU account
  • And much more

Each of these organizations is focused on something beyond the bottom line and the membership is the barometer of their success. Imagine if each worked together to expand their own initiatives while promoting their fellow organization!

We truly have not even scratched the surface of what co-ops working together can produce. I look forward to the continued partnerships and cross-pollination between organizations.

Once again, take a look at the study by the Filene Research Institute (full report is available for all member credit unions and staff) and brainstorm how your credit union can grow while helping other co-ops!

Disclosure: I am a credit union member. My family owns property serviced by an electric co-op. I’m a fan of both.

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