5 Key Habits for Credit Union Marketing Teams


There’s an old proverb that goes, “The person who chases two rabbits catches neither.” Have you ever felt this way when it comes to credit union marketing? From your marketing mix to your marketing message to the dollars you spend, it’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole. 

What brings focus to these crucial channels for growth? A well-focused credit union marketing team.

“That’s cool, but how do I get there?”

Let’s focus on how you can take the chaos out of teamwork. It hinges on deeper conversations to understand our marketing (and ourselves) better. Here are a few tips to fully optimize and improve 

your team’s efficiency and performance:

1 – Check-in Regularly to Ensure Strat Plan Alignment 

Let’s be clear: If your credit union marketing goals are not tied to your strategic plan, your marketing is working against you. Your strategic plan defines your credit union’s priorities at a very high level. In return, your marketing should guide near-term goals and activities set forth by the strategic plan. 

A strategic plan sitting on a shelf collecting dust is like an athlete hanging up their cleats. You are no longer keeping score. You are retired. Use your strategic plan as the scorecard for your marketing efforts and check in regularly. 

2 – Justify Your Marketing Spend

No longer do we have to make marketing decisions based on intuition or assumptions. Today, solid market research and data analytics can help you identify consumer behavior, critical pain points and yes, even return on investment (ROI). 

It’s crucial to look at month-to-month and year-to-year loan, deposit, and membership data to gauge campaign performance. Driving brand recognition takes frequency and repetition, and you’ve probably heard of the “Rule of Seven,” where it takes at least seven times before a consumer will act. But here’s the skinny: Not all mediums are created equal.

A high-level credit union marketing team evaluates search rankings, SEO, social channels, impressions, and conversions regularly so it can adjust accordingly with the goals of the credit union. The clearer the picture, the more buy-in we have from the marketing team, the C-Suite, and the board of directors on marketing spend.

3 – Understanding Your Target Audience

No, we are not talking about creating a “Karen” buyer persona. In fact, we can become too narrow in identifying your ideal member by focusing on age, gender, race and more. 

Instead, you should target consumer behavior. Almost all people hate to be sold, but they love to buy. When positioning an auto loan, personal loan, mortgage, or checking account, focus on the value proposition of the consumer. It’s typically not the rate or service, but rather how the product makes them feel or solves a critical need. And quite often, the needs cross over generations.

4 – Know Your Enemy and Know Thyself 

To build a competitive position is to know what you are up against. The answer isn’t simple. It’s not just that they are Wells Fargo, Citi, Chase or Bank of America and we’re the local financial institution. After all, if that mattered to so many people, you would have more local members than they have local customers. And if you decide to defend your credit union through rate cuts, be prepared for a price war.

Instead, start by looking at what makes your competition; products and services disruptive. What makes them more attractive than you? And finally, what metrics and mediums are they investing in?

Am I suggesting you copy them? No. But do learn from them. Only then can you learn relative differences and tell a more compelling brand story.

5 – Design Matters

Design matters because it affects us emotionally. Take these key findings from a Design Council study:

• Businesses that see design as integral don’t need to compete on price as much as others. Where design is integral, less than half of businesses compete mainly on price, compared to two-thirds of those who don’t use design.

• Rapidly growing businesses are three times more likely than the rest to consider design crucial to success. 

• Businesses that add value through design see a greater impact on business performance than the rest. 

Do we experience information overload? Yes, of course, we do. This is why there is a definitive link between design and better credit union performance. We all make snap judgments all the time, and when consumers are bombarded with messages, the great design captures our attention. 

Let’s face it, first impressions really matter, and if your marketing team is invested in poor design, it conveys a lack of care to your members, prospects and staff. 

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Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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