I’m often asked by credit unions that are looking to work with our team this very question: “How long before I see my credit union marketing start to work?” It’s either an innocent question that is on their generic “must ask the marketing people” list, or it’s a red flag. Good marketing isn’t an easy button or simple pill that will solve all of your problems. However, if you truly want an answer to that question, you have to ask yourself a handful of other questions to get a close answer.
- Does your messaging capture attention or is it easy to ignore? Ask this, especially with your ideal member. Does your value proposition (or lack thereof) sound like every other financial institution? If you’re trying to attract everyone who can join, your messaging is too vague to appeal to anyone.
- Do your ads speak to a felt need, or are you answering a question no one was asking? “We’re a not-for-profit financial institution.” That’s cool, but I really want to know if you can help me get a loan when I don’t have perfect credit. “We have good rates and good service!” That’s great, but my hot water heater needs to be replaced fast so my family can take a hot shower, and I don’t have savings to cover it. Can you help me? Stop thinking about your value and think about your credit union’s value to your ideal member. Speak to that.
- Are you a known, trusted, and respected brand? We are, but we’re the best-kept secret in our community! You answered yes, but the hard truth is you’re not if your credit union is the best-kept secret. There’s a reason the big banks continue to keep their market share despite the follies of banks like Wells Fargo. They have brand recognition; your credit union does not. Good or bad, they have it.
- How often does the average person need your products and services? The average person will keep their checking relationship with their primary bank for an average of 16 years. The stress of switching checking accounts is too great to make a quick decision. Loans are needed more often, but your credit union better appear to be considered at the time when that person is looking. Or you better have great branding (see #3). The rule of thumb is that the longer your product purchase cycle, the longer it will take before your marketing delivers a positive R.O.I.
- In your category, what name will customers typically think of first and feel the best about? Three of the largest banks hold slightly more than 80% of all consumer deposits. Those are the names that will come to mind first. My guess is at best (if you’ve knocked #3 out of the park) you may be in the top 10.
The answer to your question “how long before the marketing starts to work” is answered with the five questions above. If you’re struggling with those answers and getting a little heartburn, you’re not alone. We’ve helped hundreds of credit unions in the past 15 years overcome their obstacles and accelerate growth. Our unique, new client onboarding process will help uncover your credit union’s brand weaknesses and operational obstacles that are keeping your credit union marketing from being effective – before you spend $1 on marketing. We ensure your credit union will get the maximum ROI and serve your members well.