BY KENNETH C. BATOR
You’re a credit union. That sets you apart, right? Wrong. The truth is no one really cares. What they really want to hear from your CU’s marketing message is what’s in it for them. Here’s how to take the emphasis off you and put it on your members’ individuality.
Easily one of the most significant accomplishments of my 25-year career in the credit union industry was cofounding the Police Officers’ Credit Union Association (POCUA), a consortium I continue to manage through my firm today. The last event we held was the POCUA Collaboration Meeting in October 2016. During the program we discussed the challenges facing financial cooperatives that serve law enforcement. One credit union CEO in attendance stated that one of the biggest struggles is “educating members on the credit union difference.”
Before anyone else had an opportunity to reply, as the facilitator of the program I asked, “Why is that important?” Those who know me know I asked that question not only with a sarcastic tone but also with the intent to eventually make a point. There were a few responses of the usual variety, and then the one that frequently makes my blood pressure rise was spoken: “Because it’s a movement.”
I immediately began gyrating, almost like Miley Cyrus in full twerk mode, while saying, “Oh, it’s a movement! Well, that makes all the difference then. As a potential member, I should just bring all of my financial business to you without question just because you’re part of a movement!” Fortunately the person who made the “movement” comment is also a client of mine. So I had built up enough of an emotional bank account whereby my blunt and abrupt reaction didn’t elicit her slapping me upside the head so hard my glasses went flying against the wall. I did, however, get a look from her to suggest that I better change my tone and explain where I was going with this really quick.
I went on to state, “I’m not saying that being a credit union isn’t important. It certainly is. What I am saying is that most members and potential members just don’t care.” With that, I explained that while being a credit union is a differentiator and an important brand association, one that I also argue all the time, it isn’t the number one brand association on the list for any institution.