The 5 Must-Haves for Your 2021 Marketing Plan

The 5 Must-Haves for Your 2021 Marketing Plan

I was helping one of our credit unions map out their strategic marketing goals today, and a pesky earworm entered my brain. You know… a catchy tune you just can’t shake out of your head.

There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of every day
There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow’s just a dream away

I’m fortunate to work with credit unions that have a can-do mindset – or at the very least, have the resolve and determination to excel, thrive and achieve greater results. Credit unions across the country turn to YMC because we are a team of strategic thinkers. They realize that incredible marketing plans are influenced by the organization’s brand, culture and strategic plan for the future.

So, yes… the snappy melody from Disney’s legendary audio-animatronic attraction, the Carousel of Progress, has been stuck in my mind all day. It’s a song that obliterates excuses and encompasses drive, confidence and creativity.

I’m not suggesting that all you need is an upbeat, positive attitude heading into 2021. Far from it, actually. What you need is a strategic marketing plan that is both resilient and pushes boundaries, and when all is said and done, your entire team will be singing a different tune at the end of the year.

What are the keys to a successful credit union marketing plan for 2021? Here are five must-haves that will help catapult your credit union to new heights.

1. Quit-Proof Marketing Goals

The credit unions that have seen the most success in today’s economy developed their marketing plans around 1-3 critical financial benchmarks. Did they have to pivot from their marketing plan? Sure. But did they have to abandon their plan? Heck no.

For starters, every credit union should have many, many ambitions, but these credit unions kept things laser-focused. The best goals are specific, measurable, attainable, risky, timely, exciting and relevant. If they aren’t SMARTER, they aren’t powerful enough to be worthwhile and in the marketing plan.

HINT: You need to have buy-in from the C-Suite to the board of directors to the frontline with your marketing goals. Otherwise, the definition of success will be hazy.

2. Vision-Driven Target Markets

Every credit union has a legacy member, but where will meaningful growth occur? Your credit union marketing strategies should be geared toward your ideal member and key geographical markets.

In most cases, your ideal member is not your legacy member, and here’s where things get scary: You know your legacy member. They call or visit the branch, and chances are, you know their entire life story. As for your ideal member, these highly profitable members often rely on far different touch points and engage with the credit union in sometimes discrete albeit meaningful ways.

Furthermore, consider where your target audience is located by region, city or even by neighborhoods. Geographical segmentation allows you to consider economic conditions, cultural preferences, populations and more. This will allow you to address specific needs and topics to your most coveted audience.

HINT: Market to your ideal member’s ideal self. Consumer favor brands that help them visualize what’s possible and what’s important to them.

3. Honest Competitive Analysis

We’ve run into credit unions who don’t feel they have any competitors. Quite often they have an employer group(s) and for some reason they are overtly confident that this alone gives them a competitive edge. But if we are honest, chances are someone else is offering a similar – or identical – product or service. This could be a bank, payday lender, auto dealer, fintech company, etc. NOTE: Do you know what the biggest competitor is for many credit unions? Fear.

Knowing what your competitors are doing can help identify ways to stand out. What markets can you serve that your competitors won’t touch? How exactly do we serve people better? How is our brand attitude different from the bank down the street?

HINT: When someone banks with you, what are they saying about themselves? Where someone banks can be a form of self-expression and self-identification. 

4. Crystal Clear Demographics

Where does your ideal member fit into the population, median age, median household income, poverty rate, employment and median property value for your region? You should always consider the activities and economic conditions of the communities you serve. It can play a significant part in the value proposition of your credit union’s marketing strategies.

HINT: This is vital info, even if you serve Select Employer Groups (SEGs). You have a life outside of your credit union, so why wouldn’t your members have lives outside of their places of employment?

5. Campaigns that Connect

Successful marketing campaigns drive emotions and behavior. Captivating brand campaigns can entertain, inform, inspire and make us laugh, but most importantly, influence consumers to act. The mediums have changed and there are new ways to drive qualified leads faster than ever before. However, how a credit union attracts new members and boost brand awareness goes back to the authentic brand stories you are telling.

Hint: Authentic brands are built on warmth and competence. Prejudice is hardwired in human nature. How will you tell an authentic brand story?

Now that you know the 5 must-haves for your 2021 marketing plan, how will you implement it? You need a strategic marketing team – not just one person.

A business development manager or a marketing manager brings a particular set of skills to your credit union. With a strategic marketing team, you gain expertise in graphic design, illustration, copywriting, content marketing, social media, video production and analytics reporting. Furthermore, you have a team that excels in brand storytelling, media buying, brand and member experiences, and a dedicated ensemble of marketers that can identify and plan high-level advertising and PR strategies.

When you outsource your marketing, you don’t have to worry about payroll taxes, insurance, retirement savings plans, recruitment, training, etc. Plus, you have a dedicated resource that can work with your internal staff.

For 2021, prioritize what’s most important. Vision drives everything.

Is your leadership team ready to evolve, change and grow for 2021? Download 5 Lessons for Growth Every Successful CEO Needs. It contains some key trust-building lessons for top management – plus 15 conversations that will supercharge your credit union.

Need some quick tips to turn your marketing efforts around? Fill out the form below to download our 5 Lessons For Growth Every Successful CEO Needs.

Frank Allgood has more than 20 years of experience in every facet of public information and marketing communications. As Vice President of Relationship Development for Your Marketing Co., he is responsible for strategic brand experiences and marketing initiatives for credit unions across the country. For branding or rebranding projects, call 864.326.8740 or email

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