What Are Your Credit Union’s Core Values?

What Are Your Credit Union’s Core Values?

Does your credit union have a set of core values? Is there a set of core beliefs and habits that your employees live by on the job? If not, there should be. Successful organizations have them, and every credit union should have them. VisionMissionValues

Core values define a company’s corporate culture – from the way employees dress, to the way they serve their customers, to their attitude about their employers. Dell Computer Corporation, Toyota, Southwest Airlines, Google, Zappos.com and thousands of others have a set of values which define the way they do business. What defines the way your credit union does business?

Every organization has a corporate culture whether they realize it or not. Some are fun. Some are serious. Some are innovative. Some are bureaucratic. Some are intentional. Many are not. The way your leaders do or do not empower employees is your corporate culture. The way employees are trained or not trained is your corporate culture. The way employees are allowed to treat members is your corporate culture.

Culture matters for one very important reason. Your members experience your corporate culture even when it’s not clearly defined internally. They experience employee morale. They know whether or not your employees like working at your credit union. They can feel the level of value placed on their membership. That’s not something you want to leave to chance, is it?

Think of it this way. If your credit union doesn’t stand for something, it stands for nothing. Your values are what your credit union stand for, and that is different for every organization. Perhaps it is making members happy at any expense or delivering innovative products and services that defy traditional banking. Maybe your credit union likes taking risks or encouraging failure as a means to innovation. Use the things your credit union already does as a starting point for crafting core values, and seek input from staff. Crafting core values is not an exercise just for the executive leadership team. If you want employees to live your values, they have to believe in them. Find out what they believe about your credit union. Use the words they identify as core values. Choose values that can be and are demonstrated daily.

Once your core values are in place, you can develop brand, training and hiring practices around them. Only hire people who fit your core values. Ask interview questions around your core values. Make sure your brand and service are matching your values. If they don’t, your brand won’t survive.

January is a good time to do some soul searching for your credit union. What is your organization’s culture and how do your employees demonstrate that to your members and to each other?

Read more about this topic and find examples of core values from successful companies in the January issue on my monthly e-zine, On the Mark.

Why We’re Sending Our Marketing Director to CUNA’s National Marketing Conference

Why We’re Sending Our Marketing Director to CUNA’s National Marketing Conference

If you're not learning, you're not growing. And if you're a credit union marketer or business development professional the best way to learn and grow is attending CUNA's Marketing and Business Development Council national conference. The conference is so good this year I made it a part of our new marketing director’s training plan for her to attend the conference.  (Self disclosure time: I normally attend the national conference as well but this year have to pass because it falls on our Spring Break and we are doing college visits with our oldest daughter). So what about this year’s conference makes it a “must attend” for credit union executives, marketers and business development professionals? Here are just a few. 2011MBDCConference

(1)    Timely topics

Innovation, online marketing, word of mouth marketing, social media and mobile marketing. All of these are issues we’re looking to improve at our credit union. So I’m particularly jazzed that our marketing director can learn the latest on these issues. For those of you wearing the business development hat, the conference also offers sessions on business development measurement and business development creativity (not just the same old material you may have already heard).

(2)    Inspiring keynotes

I had the opportunity to meet Bill Capodagli, author of Innovate the Pixar Way, and to hear him speak. His session alone is worth the conference price. I honestly took reams of notes from his presentation that I still use today. Bill is not only entertaining; he is thought provoking and uses excellent examples. Of course, the other keynoters (Libby Gill, Bernard LaChance and Denise Gabel) are also distinguished and will add tremendous value.

 (3)    Diverse subjects

You name it, they have it! Pretty much any subject relating to marketing and business development is covered. Whether it’s big picture strategy or nit-picky ROI/ALM issues, the conference has a session for you. One thing I look for in a conference is diversity—I don’t want 10 sessions on the same subject. CUNA’s Marketing & Business Development Council Conference offers such a broad range of areas that you’ll have a tough time choosing which breakout to attend. Plus the pre-conference workshops allow you the opportunity to do a deep-dive into strategy and research.

 (4)    National networking

It takes two hands now to count the number of times I’ve attended CUNA’s Marketing & Business Development Council Conference (and no, I wasn’t at the original one 18 years ago!). However, I still have friends and colleagues from all over the country that I stay in contact with that I first met at this event. We share a common love and passion for credit unions, marketing and business development. When I need to pick their brains, they are an invaluable resource. While social media tools are cool, there is something about that face-to-face time that deepens a relationship and connection. The conference is a great time to not just to “network” but to really connect with others.

So if you’re looking for a stimulating, forward thinking conference to attend then register today for CUNA’s Marketing and Business Development Council national conference.

11 Marketing Tasks For 2011

11 Marketing Tasks For 2011

Wow—2010 flew by! It’s amazing how fast a year can seem to go. If last year’s recent history serves as an example, then you better wear your running shoes in 2011. Especially those involved with credit union marketing and strategy. You probably already have a task list a mile long of things you want to accomplish this year. But are they the right tasks? Task-list

Some of the items listed below are strategic (because marketing is such a strategic priority) while others are tactical and practical in nature. Please feel free to let contribute your own ideas as well!

(1)    Revamp your checking accounts

This is probably first and foremost on your marketing “To Do” list. No matter how you slice it, checking accounts are changing. As noted in numerous articles, the days of free checking are done. If your credit union decides to continue offering a free checking account then you must market that differentiation to your advantage. If you decide you must make up for lost fee revenue, then your credit union will have to determine how to structure new checking accounts that benefit both the member and credit union. For a few ideas, check out the products BancVue is offering like Kasasa.

(2)    Focus on values

What does your credit union believe? What are your values? Not your mission statement or tagline, but values. Whatever they are you should communicate them to your members and make sure your staff are living those values. While we spend much time marketing our products and services (which is a good thing), a little self-examination can go a long way to guide the credit union ship.

(3)    Use the power of three

Chris Brogan has blogged recently about his three words. I won’t elaborate on his fine writing (but he is a must read). However, let’s apply his three word principle to your 2011 credit union marketing plan. If you could only use three words for your marketing this year what would they be? Maybe “Loans. Checking. Investments.” Or perhaps, “Members. Trust. Business.” Focusing on three simple words helps you focus your efforts a great deal.

(4)    Promote investment services

According to a CUNA Mutual Group Retirement Research Study, more than 40% of credit union members are Baby Boomers and 17% of these members are likely to leave their credit union. If you don’t want to see a seismic shift in Boomers leaving your credit union then don’t just offer them CDs and IRAs. Offer them investment services like mutual funds, annuities and other advanced retirement options.

(5)    Conduct a mid-year strategic planning update

The financial services environment is changing at a lightening pace.  While most credit unions do a yearly strategic plan, some of my most advanced strategic planning clients are actually doing mid-year updates as well. At the halfway point we check in on strategies, action items, and environmental changes. These updates make the planning process much more effective. 

(6)    Use your members as a referral engine

I’m currently reading The Referral Engine by John Jantsch. I’m just starting it so I’ll have a full review in an upcoming blog post later this year. However, I’m already struck by how the principles he discusses apply to improving credit union sales. “Your employees probably treat your customers about the same way you treat your employees,” he notes. Want quality referrals—check out how you’re doing with your own employees. 

(7)    Resolve to implement your plan

The best strategic plan isn’t always the smartest or most insightful. Sometimes the best strategic plan is the one that actually gets implemented. Maybe this year you make a shorter list of strategic priorities and focus on the ones you can actually do. Less is sometimes more.

(8)    Do social media right

Of course any 2011 marketing tactic list should include social media. Duh. But the key for 2011 is not just doing Facebook or Twitter. The key to social media is targeting. Pick out who you want to reach with your social media efforts and then create your strategy around your target audience. Check out how Verity Credit Union does just that with their Verity Moms blog.

(9)    Get involved politically

The past two years several pieces of legislation have negatively impacted credit unions. Now more than ever we must get involved with lawmakers. Work in their campaigns, visit them in their offices and donate to them. Incorporate legislative action into your marketing plans.

(10)Use video

Film everything (well maybe not everything!). But ask your members “what do you like about our credit union?” Then post their responses on your blog, YouTube or other venues. You may even want to put short snippets from your front line staff answering common member questions. Check out some cool stuff PTP New Media has done.

(11)Think like a consumer

Too many times as credit union executives we think, live and breathe credit unions. That’s all good for us true believers but the reality is the average consumer does not wake up thinking about interchange income, checking accounts, and debt to income ratios. When promoting your credit union’s products and services be sure to put yourselves in the consumers’ shoes. See the product from their viewpoint and not yours.


2011 is going to be a great year for credit unions, especially those that complete the above tasks. But those are just a few suggestions. What other tasks do you think credit union executives should add to 2011?