Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: empower

“I Want To Do It Myself!”

Update 8/23/16: NCUF recently held a #foundationchat on Twitter about member financial education. Though this was written prior to that discussion, many of the points are shared.

Very short background: My family has a vacation property we rent to guests during their travels. The audio/video components (TV, stereo, DVD, etc.) have detailed instructions for use. Of course, there’s always someone who thinks they know better, and rewires the system to their whims. Shockingly, it then doesn’t work right. Puzzled and embarrassed, they leave it and future guests complain the directions are wrong. Cue regular phone conversations troubleshooting and working around these modifications until I can get back to fix the “updates”.

Stereo systems aren’t the only thing people know better. Financial services, too. Members need your help, but, like most people, want to feel they are doing things themselves. How can you empower them while educating and guiding towards your services?

Think back to learning to ride a bicycle. Did your parents send you off the nearest black diamond cliff with nary a wave? If so, we need to talk, because you have stories to tell.

Typically, there’s a training period…with training wheels to protect against falls. That’s your financial education program. It’s a foolproof service for those who need careful guidance. But some people know how to ride a bicycle; they’re just not too confident. If you were wobbly, and I suggested putting the training wheels back on, how would you respond? Exactly.

Create a tiered education/action program for them as well. It’s no longer about rolling up and down the driveway; these members are riding down the easy trails (ie. taking first steps to managing their funds)! The steps taken now are their own, with suggestions by your team. If your member tips their bike, the credit union is equipped to catch and help get them pedaling again. Each consultation enables the member to go further on their own, with confidence and competency.

Every day I read about how credit unions are the leaders in financial education, that they can serve the role sorely needed in our society. The NCUF promotes it on their home page through grants, youth programs, and more. CU Social Good asks credit unions nationwide to share their stories. It’s all about the strategy! Just as you wouldn’t learn to ride a bike by reading a manual, so to it is with finances; action is what excites.

How are you empowering your members to use the financial stereo system efficiently?

Image credit: http://characters.wikia.com/wiki/File:Lion-king-simba.png

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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