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?

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