2014-2015_Credit_Union_Environmental_Scan_(E-Scan)_ReportThe Credit Union National Association recently released the 2014-2015 Environmental Scan. The E-Scan offers insights in 10 primary areas affecting credit unions, including lending, mobile payments, big data and of course marketing/business development. The E-Scan is a must-read for any credit union executive and is also an outstanding planning tool to use.

The marketing section is entitled “Tell Your Credit Union’s Story.” And it aptly notes “Your credit union needs broader distribution of its compelling story—about how you help members achieve their financial dreams. Your story is your credit union’s unique brand.” Decision Journey

According to the E-Scan, the traditional consumer decision funnel used by many marketers is now replaced by a journey. This journey has six steps:

(1)    Consider

Credit unions currently only hold 6.8% of all the assets held by depository institutions in the U.S. The only way to move that number up: create strong brand awareness for consumers to actually use your brand. Suggested tools to use in this stage are sequential messaging, mobile technology, social advertising and immersive brand experiences.

(2)    Evaluate

“During this stage, members traditionally have asked friends and family for advice about financial institutions, but they’re now more likely to turn to social media for that advice,” the E-Scan says. Suggested tools for credit unions to assist consumers during the evaluation stage are rating sites, blog posts and tweets.

(3)    Buy

Credit unions must create an “omni-channel” experience for consumers during the buying process. You must align every single marketing channel into one database. This lets you make specific offers to members based on purchase patterns, social network affinities, website visits, loyalty programs and other information. Your credit union has tons of data on your members; now you need to use it.

(4)    Experience

The member’s journey does not end with the purchase. Through the power of social media and networking, now it’s about the experience they have with your credit union. What is it like to do business with your credit union? What experiences—both online and offline—are you giving your members?

(5)    Advocate

“Social media presently is the primary channel through which members share their experiences,” the E-Scan notes. “Mobile, however, will play an increasingly important role as the primary device for accessing social content.” The key with this stage is to turn your members into advocates.

(6)    Bond

If members positively connect with your brand, then they will also bond with it. If that is the case then they are more likely to repeat the buying cycle with your credit union. The best way to create that bond? Use that big data mentioned previously and use credit union’s traditionally strong member service. 

One of the best parts of the E-Scan is its action items after each chapter. With marketing and business development, the authors give several practical suggestions credit unions can take to better reach your members.

These were just a few snippets about the new buying process and telling your story—there is obviously much more detail about this marketing issue and other relevant areas in the E-Scan itself. To get the full context of the marketing section and to read the other insights, be sure to purchase your copy of the E-Scan. In addition to the report itself, you can also order the full E-Scan package, which includes the E-Scan report, the E-Scan Newsletter, the E-Scan DVD, the Strategic Planning Guide and the E-Scan Research & Advice Portal. When it comes to strategic planning, there is no better resource or tool your credit union can use than CUNA’s Environmental Scan.