Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: promotions

The Importance of CU Staff in New Program Launches

Originally published on

Hooray! Your credit union finalized another service partnership! It’s been a long road of due diligence, contracts, negotiations, board meetings, and conference calls, but you’re done.

The time has arrived for implementation!

“I get the feeling Joe is going to say the hard part is just starting.” How do you always know what I’m thinking?

While it doesn’t have to be the “hard part”, making a strategy work is always more than set-and-forget.


Let’s start with building a marketing plan. Unless you don’t want anyone to know about it. Which is…odd, but your choice.

For everyone else, it’s time to decide the target audience for your new service. Is it every member? Possibly, but more likely, there’s something that makes some better prospects. Figure that out, and tailor your messaging and outreach to them.

We call it a “buyer persona” and it will help you focus your efforts most efficiently.


What about staff? Do they have any role in the success of this new service? Maybe just a tiny bit. Or a lot. Even staff who don’t regularly meet with members can play a massive part in making or breaking a launch.

So how do you educate them while building buy-in, excitement, and support? Great question.

Staff Need To Love It

There are a lot of systems that keep your credit union operating. From your core to the LOS to cash counters, it’s a lot of tech. But you and I know what really keeps the credit union running: Your dedicated staff.

Which means that new service needs them to love it, too, if you want it to succeed. What is your strategy to build this relationship?

Seems simple enough: Distribute a staff FAQ to ensure they’re aware. Then hold branch manager trainings. It’s a golden recipe for success, right? I mean, who doesn’t love training sessions?

Your Staff Are Members

Let’s back up a bit. When your credit union first approached this program, there was a clear member benefit, right? Of course. And your staff? Many of them are members, too.

What does that mean? Well, treat them as extra-lucky members! How cool they get to use this awesome new program before anyone else!

Soft-launch your new service with them. Not only is this an engaging way to educate them about the service and its benefits, but it also connects them to it. (Plus, it lets you work out any kinks without the risk of customer service crises.)

Now, when your members have questions, they’ll feel comfortable talking about it (and possibly even excitedly recommending).

Remember, staff are members.

Let Them Play

I run training sessions for our own services, and always conclude with this statement:

“We encourage you to use this system on your own; in test mode, you can play all you want. Get comfortable, because what’s comfortable for you becomes easy to recommend to your members. You’re helping, not selling, and isn’t that why you’re at a credit union in the first place?”

Your staff is the front line to your members. As trusted advisors, they can make or break any initiative. Understanding that unique relationship, we bring them into our launch and ongoing promotion efforts.


For example, over the holidays, we run campaigns which raise money for their foundation. It may not directly educate about the service, but it definitely helps associate it positively with your team.

Through the year, we encourage our clients to give staff ownership in the programs. If it fits your culture, staff incentives, giveaways, and other rewards are fun ways to ensure the service stays top of mind.

In Sight. In Mind.

Over the long-term, we aim for in-sight, in mind. This can mean different things at your institution, and also depending on what the new service is.

One option is having a physical marketing piece of functional value. That way, each staff member can refer to it when speaking with members.

Involve Staff

Marketing is an essential way to reach your members. But it’s evolving. Inbound marketing strategies let you address their challenges without intrusive pieces. Staff also play an important role.

Their engagement and training is crucial to build trust and ensure consistent growth. Together, you have a solid plan for success.

Disclosure: My company works with credit unions and their staff for promoting services to their membership. When our partners use these strategies, they improve their results, thereby causing me to benefit financially. Looking back, this seems like the most obvious disclosure I’ve ever written.

Santa’s Chocolate Chip Cookies…With No Chocolate Chips?

Confession: I’m not a sweets person. Walk me past a bakery and my expression remains unchanged. Walk me past a Starfleet Transporter pad, different story. The free Godiva monthly chocolate? Don’t use it. So, it might seem odd for me to be writing an article about cookies. Let’s just assume they are baked by my dear friend Lauren over at Dive for Sciencehers are worth eating.

Like a moth to a lightbulb. Distractions…and, I’m back.

What in the world does a warm, gooey treat have to do with credit union productivity? Both are delicious? Well, yes? Both can make you gain weight? No, that doesn’t seem right.

It’s all about your recipe and the baking.

If you’re preparing chocolate chip cookies and you leave out chocolate chips, what do you have?

Exactly. You have plain cookies. Are they tasty? Perhaps. Do they elicit the same frenzied charge at the still-hot baking pan as fingers are stained with melted chocolate? Of course not.

Leaving out the chocolate chips changes the result on a fundamental level. It will also alter the response.

Consider your marketing strategy. It’s been meticulously planned over the past 6 months, and your team is excited about each promotion. E-mails, phone scripts, in-branch signage, and website banners all will be synchronized to improve member reach. Oooh, this is going to be great!

Then it happens. Two days before a new promotion is scheduled to go live, your IT person says the e-mail cannot be sent for another month (something about upgrading to a newfangled whathaveyou). Not a huge deal, they explain, as the site and all your in-branch efforts will still show. So, what do you do? The year is already planned…it’s now or never. Let’s do it!

You just made chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips. Don’t be surprised when the response is below expectations; your members didn’t get the full experience! Many only know about credit union promotions from those e-mails, so write them out of the picture. For others, the reinforcement that message provides pushes them over the laziness hump (admit it, we all have it) to click the link.

Was the marketing program a waste? Doubtful, as some members still received the messaging, but it came through only partially. Missing just one ingredient took away so much.

In baking and marketing, including all the ingredients creates the recipe you intended.

Disclosure: Since our firm works with credit unions on various programs, the more effective their own marketing becomes, the more successful everyone will be. So, yes, I benefit if 1) our company works with your credit union and 2) the marketing program is for a product we help you offer.

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