New Year. New Members. New Opportunities.

The strategies featured this week on will have existing members singing your praises and potential members signing up.

The New Year brings with it the promise of a fresh start, renewed energy, and all-around excitement about what will happen in the next 365 days.

For credit unions, 2014 will be difficult to top. They surpassed the 100-million-mark in third quarter; posted the highest year-over-year loan growth, 9.9%, since 2005 in second quarter; and originated more consumer loans than ever before, $48.0 billion, during first quarter.

But showing off healthy financials isn’t the way to demonstrate the credit union difference. That’s why this week, is showcasing specific strategies that garner market attention and generate positive, brand-building chatter, all with the end goal of turning potential members into new members and existing members into dedicated fans of the cooperative.

Did you know 2014 was the year of the story? So says Entrepreneur magazine editor-in-chief Amy Cooper in her December letter from the editor. In it, Cooper advises startups to tell a good story if they want to entice investors. That advice is just as solid for credit unions trying to engage members. And in The Power Of Storytelling, Alix Patterson offers step-by-step instruction on how to build a great story as well as credit union vetted-and-verified strategies to communicate that brand to your market.

In 5 Promotional Tips For 2015, Tracy Fors, vice president of marketing and business development at Wright-Patt Credit Union, talks about how to dig deeper than buzzwords like service, cooperative, or millennial and instead use the member experience to build brand. Writer Drew Grossman breaks down successful WPCU branding initiatives and Fors offers five insights that will benefit any credit union.

In the wake of the Great Recession, when financial institutions flooded the market with messages proclaiming their safety and soundness, Florida-based Suncoast Credit Union did more than reassure a shaky population that it, too, met the baseline standards expected from America’s FIs. It doubled down on its brand values in a public manner that included a website redesign, a charter conversion, and physical and virtual touch point upgrades.

Once we came through the recession, we were ready to serve new members and focus on the community, says Patti Barrow, vice president of marketing at Suncoast. Learn more in Turn A Rebrand Into A Re-Statement.

The second-largest credit union in the United States has nearly $30 billion in assets and 1.9 million members. Yet State Employees’ Credit Union of North Carolina spent less than $500,000 in education and promotion in the first nine months of 2014, according to Callahan & Associates. Instead of pricey marketing campaigns, email blasts, and flyers, SECU tells its story through word-of-mouth marketing disseminated by more than 3,200 volunteer member ambassadors.

We don’t buy air; we don’t buy ads, says Leigh Brady, SECU’s executive vice president of organizational development and the closest thing the credit union has to a traditional senior marketing executive. Learn how SECU maximizes its earned PR potential in How To Build Brand One Mouth At A Time.

And for any reader out there struggling for inspiration on what the credit union difference means in the lives of individual members, check out the Graphic Of The Week. It’s all about the tangible benefits of banking with a credit union. Savings dollars, now that just makes sense.

Welcome to 2015. Happy Reading.

January 5, 2015

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