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MARKETING: Bump Up Your Market Share: Four Things Credit Unions Should Do Now

BY GABE KRAJICEK

Did you know that 39 percent of current megabank customers would actually prefer the community-mindedness that credit unions provide? These four tips will help your CU increase its appeal and better attract and retain members who desire what your institution has to offer.

If all things were equal, two out of three U.S. adults (66 percent) – including 59 percent of megabank customers* – say they would rather bank at a community bank or credit union than at one of the big national banks. Yet only 20 percent of Americans use a credit union as their primary financial institution.
Why the discrepancy? Feedback from credit union executives as well as results from the 2015 Consumer Banking Insights Study, commissioned by BancVue and conducted online in January by Harris Poll among more than 1,000 U.S. adults, offer a few insights. The following steps could help credit unions increase their appeal and better attract and retain members.
1. Boost Your Brand.
Unfortunately, many consumers* still don’t know much about credit unions and community banks. Among consumers who don’t have an account with a community financial institution, more than one-third (34 percent) said it was because they haven’t thought about it and/or are unaware of their options.
In today’s competitive environment, name recognition and awareness are more important than ever. Fully 71 percent of consumers say a recognizable brand name is at least somewhat important when it comes to choosing a financial institution.
Yet credit unions often don’t have megabank marketing resources to draw on. “Our primary challenge when it comes to brand awareness is marketing budget,” said Lanet McCrary, vice president of marketing and business development with Mississippi’s Magnolia Federal Credit Union. “Compared to our for-profit counterparts, our marketing budget is much smaller, which makes it harder to develop brand awareness.”
There are many ways to boost an institution’s profile without spending billions, though. Getting involved in the local community can help, McCrary said. “To boost brand awareness in our community, we do several things: sponsor youth sports teams, purchase ads in school and church program booklets, volunteer as ambassadors for chambers of commerce in our market area and participate in local events, such as charity walks and programs that support financial literacy.”


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