This article written by Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director with On The Mark Strategies

I was an early adopter of the Netflix platform years ago when it was solely a direct mail DVD subscription-based company. However, over time and due to (what I considered) a lack of interesting titles, I canceled my subscription.

Fast-forward a decade and I now find myself once again a Netflix customer. However, this time it is to take advantage of their huge library of streaming online content. Add Hulu to the mix and I had a compelling question jump out at me when I sat down to pay my most recent cable bill.

Why in the world do I need cable?

I actually called the cable company and asked the same question. In many ways, this is similar to a question we ask banks and credit unions during the mystery shop process of marketing auditsWhy should I do business with you? What’s the compelling reason to bring my business here? Why should you matter to me as a consumer?

The cable company representative was as taken aback by my question as most bank and credit union professionals are when I pose it to them during a mystery shop. She really didn’t have a good response. That’s one of the reasons why I will more than likely drop traditional cable in the next month or so.

Banks and credit unions face the same dilemma in many ways. The financial landscape is not what it was ten years ago. A host of upstart nontraditional financial institutions have entered the landscape. Crowd-sourced lending is now an option many consumers seek before even checking their local bank or credit union rates.

The lesson here? Banks and credit unions must constantly search for reasons and ways to remain relevant to modern consumers. If you don’t offer what consumers desire, there’s plenty of competition out there that does.

While the quest for relevancy involves many factors in a constantly-evolving technological landscape, there are several things on which your bank or credit union can focus. First, you must be simple with which to do business; as simple as your favorite retailers, like Amazon, Apple or Zappos. If you’re not, consumers can easily find someone who is. Second, you must demonstrate your relevancy to younger consumers, particularly Millennials. Millennials need a reason not just to need you but also like you. What are you doing in your community and are you telling your story? A great example here is AmeriCU CU in upstate New York and their military member outreach as part of the Mountainfest concert series. Lastly, you must keep consumers at the center of every decision you make. Before taking on a new strategic planning initiative, training program or brand plan, ask yourself — will this benefit our consumers and how?

Banks and credit unions face the same uphill climb as any other retailer when it comes to maintaining relevancy in the eyes of consumers. Take a look at the struggles that slammed once-popular retailers like Blockbuster Video, Radio Shack and The Limited. However, by focusing on simplicity, cultivating fans amongst younger generations of consumers and focused decision-making, they greatly improve their chances of success.