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Should Credit Unions Take the Easy Way Out?

In many organizations, credit unions included, marketing is viewed as the primary driver of success or failure. Loans are down? Must be marketing. Bad reviews online? Blame marketing. Goals aren’t being met? You guessed it—marketing. Now, while marketing certainly plays a role, an organization’s success always relies on a variety of factors. Sure, marketing must play an active role in delivering new leads, but it shouldn’t be considered the only solution for a brand in crisis.


This realization hit me last week while I was watching an interview with Boeing’s new CEO, Dave Calhoun. In the conversation, he spoke about the process of putting the previously grounded Boeing 757 MAX back in the air. Since the 757 MAX has a pretty negative stigma, Calhoun was asked whether Boeing would change the name of that plane before relaunching it. His response? “Well, I’m not going to market my way out of this.” That’s a pretty bold step, one that I don’t think many people would take.


In a recent interview with Credit Union Management, I discussed why some credit unions shouldn’t consider rebranding; or if they do, why they should wait a bit. I used the old adage “putting lipstick on the pig” to describe reactive marketing or rebranding efforts that fail to address underlying problems. Instead of tackling the issues that hinder their success, many organizations turn to marketing to create something shiny and new to distract and deflect from the real problems.


If your credit union isn’t seeing the kind of success you hoped for, I would encourage you to be bold like Boeing. Rather than doing the hard work required to demonstrate that the 757 MAX is, in fact, safe for flight, Boeing could have deflected attention from the plane’s dubious reputation by assigning it a completely different name. But that’s not what the airline giant chose to do. Instead, they’ve decided to rise to the challenge by correcting mistakes, redesigning the plane, and proving it’s safe to fly. If a company as large as Boeing can successfully own its mistakes and make strategic adjustments, your organization can take the necessary steps to improve the member experience instead of simply trying to “market your way out of it.”

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