Being responsible for the marketing of a business is a tough task. Being responsible for a small credit union is even harder, as your day is sure to be filled with daily tasks that need to be completed in order for the credit union to grow and prosper in a crowded credit union market.
It’s easy to recognize the need for a clear, strategic marketing for your credit union, but as you may be aware, having a clear picture of what it involves can be difficult to surmise. Perhaps it’s an undertaking that you are having difficult dedicating the appropriate amount of time to, and as a result, those marketing tasks and ideas end going further and further down your list.
If this sounds like a situation that you’re in, the time to make a change is right now. A clear marketing strategy is essential to the success of almost everything surrounding your credit union, especially regarding your products and offers.
The Three Elements of Marketing
Marketing is the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. Don’t let that definition scare you away, especially if you don’t have a lot of marketing experience. Marketing can be broken down into small pieces that will make it easier to work into your busy schedule.
Generally speaking, marketing for small credit unions encompasses three elements:
Though they may overlap, those are three completely different marketing activities.
Promoting your credit union essentially means that you are letting your core demographic know who you are and where they can find you. In promoting, your goal is to make more people aware of your credit union’s existence and create a positive, memorable impression. This is called “Brand Awareness”. With small credit unions, brand awareness is vital as it helps your demographics understand who you are and what you value you offer.
Advertising is tied directly toward increasing your financial assets. This comes down to increasing the sales of the products and services that you offer your members. With advertising, the strategy is to describe the products you offer and the benefits of using those products. Whether you are advertising a new checking account, or an auto loan, or a credit card, you use advertising to convince your members to financially invest in YOU by explaining how your product/service fills their needs.
Sales is the final step in this marketing process. Once members are aware of your credit union, and they ultimately decide to do business with you, it’s time for you to close the deal.
Many times, especially in businesses that are financially focused (banks, credit unions, etc.), all three elements listed above are blended into one piece. While the lines may be blurred at times, it’s important to recognize the difference between each.
Let’s use an example that you may have encountered recently. Have you ever received an email that presented a product or the opportunity to purchase a product? The presentation of that email most likely began with an introduction, credentials of the company selling the product, and then reasons why you can (and should) purchase said product.
From there, you had the opportunity to purchase the product, or were lead to a link that allowed you to do so – hopefully resulting in a successful “sale” for the company offering the product.
All three elements above were there in a quick email, and as a result, a sale was made.
Focusing on Marketing
In this eBook, we will look at all three of these marketing elements. We will propose ways that you can, in fact, successfully make contributions to the accomplishment of each, with activities that won’t take too much time, allowing you to focus on other important duties at your credit union. Dedicating a little strategic time to these practices will do wonders for your credit union’s marketing efforts.
Understand, though, this is not one of those “do it quickly one time and you’re finished” type of scenarios. Marketing is an ongoing, evolving project that changes every single day. A lot of what we’ll talk about in this eBook, are not things you should do once, but things you should over and over again. Once you get used to what’s needed, it’ll be that much easier to implement, improve and adjust marketing strategies.
Don’t Market in the Dark
First and foremost, it’s important that you never “market in the dark”. It’s important to know your credit union. If you’re like most of us who drink the credit union Kool-Aid, you may be saying to yourself, “I live and breathe my credit union! Of course I know it well!”
While that may be true, it’s important that you go into depth about what makes your credit union YOUR credit union. How well do you know your potential and current members? What type of member do you cater to? What type of member are you looking join your credit union? How clear is the understanding of your credit union’s financial performance? What are your competitors doing?
Assuming you already know if the credit union is showing a positive or negative net income, can you then point to the things that contribute most to your profitability or the things that are the greatest drains on your resources? How well can you explain to a potential member why they should do business with you, rather than a bank or a competing credit union?
Gather and assimilate all the information you can about your credit union, your current members, your potential members, and even your competitors. All of that information will contribute to your ability to tailor your marketing efforts to the most profitable elements of your credit union, by influencing the behavior of the people that are important to your business.
In general, all of your marketing efforts will fall into one of two categories. You’ll either be generating ideas or you will be taking action. You need the ideas to initiate your actions, but as marketing becomes a habitual effort, you will find that each will feed the other. The actions you will be taking will be born from the ideas that you and your team generate. The more ideas you generate, the more marketing you do, the more actions you take… and so on, and so forth.
Coming up with ideas on how to market your credit union should be FUN! No resources are required except for your own imagination coupled with the passion to succeed. Use the information that you have about credit unions and apply it to your marketing brainstorming. One thing that I always do is keep a notebook (or notes app on my phone) near me at all times, that way I can jot down any ideas that pop into my brain. If I am driving, or in bed, or even at my desk working on another project, my ideas are always close by.