When most laymen think of marketing, they think of large and boisterous ad campaigns. The kind of shady salesmen that want to pitch their ideas to everyone and anyone who will listen and fall for their sickly sweet false promises. Billboards attached to skyscrapers in NYC promoting any product from any company that will pay the exorbitant fee to host their images there. This is still a common perception in the modern world when you bring up the vague term of “marketing.”
Despite there being very egregious stereotypes associated with this concept of marketing, let’s look at this idea at a base level. This form of marketing is global and lacks compassion value — but do all brands necessarily benefit from those criteria?
Small businesses don’t need to market on a global scale, and this is certainly true of credit unions. It’s also true that credit unions are tied into a community at their base level, making them both hyperlocal and extremely compassionate in terms of community marketing. More than an outsider’s incorrect perception of marketing, a credit union marketer needs to understand this idea more than anyone else.
Still, many credit unions don’t appeal to their community in a way that they should. Some credit unions are bigger, spanning a few states, while others are very much based in one specific city or county. When credit unions focus heavily on these hyperlocal areas, they’ll find that they win big by staying small.
First, it’s important to examine why someone would choose a credit union over a bank. Most credit unions have different financial assets as compared to a bank, like being more lenient on loans and having easier-access account formats. It’s important to also consider, though, that many community members look to credit unions because they’re more trustworthy in their eyes. Banks are still very intimidating and scary places to many, and a credit union that’s hometown-based is a better alternative if someone just wants to deposit their weekly work check.
…or does this not speak to your customer profile? Not every credit union brands itself in this way, and the type of branding used greatly depends on their reach. Look at this story here from Credit Union Times about SPIRE Credit Union in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Despite being a credit union, this business has hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and is popular in two states. Their success comes from two different branding materials: focusing on their clients as Midwestern and maintaining a personal connection despite being a large credit union.
This speaks to knowing who their customer base is and what they want from a credit union. Most credit union patrons choose smaller banking systems because they know they’re more likely to develop this personal connection. Personal connections build trust, and trust is important in any financial sector.
Find Ways to Market to Everyone
Nothing can hurt a credit union more than ignoring community members. If you have the ability to market to a very specific region, you also have the ability to market to everyone within that region. A lot of credit union marketing is targeted at typical demographics, like white, middle class males who work for a living. This ignores a vast majority of a credit union’s market place.
This PDF released by the National Credit Union Administration contains a lot of great marketing information, but reference page four of the PDF (page two of the document). The Illinois Credit Union League’s Small Credit Union Development Office talks about how to market to younger people, underserved members of the community as well as immigrants who make up a large portion of the population.
Are these smaller percentages of the community? Perhaps. However, nothing says “community” like “inclusivity.” When you acknowledge all of your potential community markets, you let your community know that all of them matter to you.
Looking for more ideas? Learn how you can expand your credit union marketing onto Instagram.