Save Your Credit Union From Death by 1000 Cuts

It’s been said many times, in many ways: “You can’t cut your way to growth.”

Pruning expenses for things that no longer serve you well is a necessity, but when cuts are made to grow the bottom line, you’re looking at the wrong solution.

WAIT! Of course, the credit union marketing guy is trying to get us to spend more!

Wrong. I am a successful entrepreneur, running three small businesses and a growing real estate portfolio, as well as serving as the chair of my credit union board. I sit in your seat every day facing tough decisions.

I can confidently state no business can cut its way to meaningful growth, sustainability, and relevance.

GM, for example, is now a shell of its former self. Flashback to 1981, when Roger Smith rose from his position of accounting clerk to become CEO of General Motors. While Wall Street saw him as a spectacular businessman who was “optimizing operations” and “maximizing profits,” anyone who loved cars could see clearly he was destroying one of America’s legendary companies.

One fan of Smith’s strategy had this to say, “You don’t understand business. It costs a lot to engineer and tool a new model of car for each GM brand,” (Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac) “so Roger Smith is building all the cars on a single platform. But each brand will get its own grill and headlights and interior and taillights.”

Prior to this new era of optimizing and maximizing, GM held 46% of the U.S. car market. Nine years later when Smith was on his way out, the company’s market share had plummeted to 35.4% and is still rapidly declining.

When asked about these numbers, he defended the bottom line: “You don’t pay dividends on market share.”

Back in 2009, when GM was at its lowest point and begged the bankruptcy courts for mercy, MotorTrend magazine published this statement about the once iconic brand:

“Less than a year after celebrating its centenary, the company we knew as General Motors is dead. Once the richest and most powerful automaker in the world; the symbol of American industrial might; the engine room of the American economy, General Motors is now officially bankrupt.”

If you are old enough, you know the rest of the story. Oldsmobile died. Pontiac died. Buick is on its deathbed. GM’s U.S. market share was only 15.2% in 2021.

Are credit unions following the same path, optimizing and maximizing our way to irrelevancy? Once each credit union had a particular brand of DNA that set it apart from banks and even each other. Have we tried to homogenize our foundations of good rates and excellent service, only putting a different grille and headlights in each credit union marketing message? Have we been trying to cut our way to growth?

If your credit union is struggling to meet your growth goals or your brand is just confused, I want to help you get unstuck. Our time-tested, unique, strategic approach to marketing has helped many credit unions get unstuck and thrive in relevancy once again. I’m here when you’re ready, just drop me a line via email:

From strat plans to rebrands, YMC President and CEO, Bo, is passionate about helping financial institutions come up with a winning formula. If you’re ready to go beyond the SWOT, you can email him at

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