Credit Union Marketing is So Easy

holding hands

Or is it?

Credit union marketing in general is one of the first things leaders turn to because it’s easy to talk about. We can’t always argue accounting formulas or operational tasks if we’re not experts in it, but even if you’re not a marketing expert you can speak to what you like.

“Let’s change that image for this…”

I could give many examples, but you get the picture.

If marketing is so easy, why is so much time and money dedicated to creating systems for it? There are books, seminars and consultants galore dedicated to refining the process. A little more data here. A new marketing system here. Voila! We can shove something into one end and out the other comes new members and new loans!

Books, seminars, and consultants are all needed because we choose to avoid the hard work and long game in lieu of the silver bullet and quick results.

I spend a lot of time in credit union strategic planning sessions and onboarding new credit union marketing clients talking about the ideal member. This piece of the conversation is always like pulling teeth.

Tim Halloran recently wrote a book called, “Romancing the Brand,” and he describes this so accurately.

“Marketers often make the mistake of thinking of consumers in terms of their ‘physical’ attributes – their age, gender, income level, education level, and so on – without going deeper. Ask a junior brand manager who her consumer is, and she will usually describe him in these demographic terms. Likewise, consumers often encounter brands as collections of qualities or attributes that bundle up to provide some functional benefit for them – or don’t. For those brands with which they don’t perceive a connection, consumers will feel little emotion; these are brands that serve a need and can easily be replaced by something else that is “close enough” if that is more convenient.”

The wall that usually comes up in this conversation with clients is this: We don’t want to offend anyone. Meaning, if we take a stand and make an emotional connection with one person, we don’t want to turn off someone else.

How’s that working out for you?

The credit unions I work with that experience the most robust membership growth have taken a risk by allowing their brand to make an emotional connection with their ideal member.

Ah, that word risk.

Halloran addresses that stumbling block to success in his book as well:

“Innovation almost always requires taking risks. Risks are never comfortable, and, by definition, never guaranteed success. In fact, many innovations fail. If we never take risks, our relationships with customers will ultimately suffer.”

If our relationship with our ideal member suffers or is nonexistent, that suffering turns to death (merger). Rather than “inability to grow” on that merger paper, replace it with “inability to be a leader and take risks.” You’d have a more accurate document.

My hope for credit unions is that it never comes to that. Our passion at Your Marketing Co. is helping credit unions avoid unnecessary mergers by empowering credit unions to survive and thrive by engaging, educating and retaining their next generation of members. How can we help you?

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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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