Inside Marketing: How Credit Unions Can Recession-Proof Digital Marketing Strategy

lighthouse shining in front of cloudy sunset sky
By Anna Kate Mahaney

3 minutes

Follow these five best practices to remain a relevant and reassuring presence for members through economic downturn and beyond.

Although reports indicate that the U.S. produced 528,000 jobs in July, those paying attention to recent headlines are well aware that the economy is on the cusp of another recession. Inflation is at its highest peak in 40 years, and tightened rates from the Fed pose a threat as we look to 2023.

With that said, nearly every industry is making adjustments in the face of the current economic situation, and digital marketing is adjusting right along with them. However, as credit unions often serve as a trusted financial institution within the local community, their main initiative is to support members’ needs no matter how the economic landscape is trending.

Here are five ways your credit union can recession-proof its marketing strategy to stay relevant.

1. Determine Your Messaging

Consistency is key. In times of economic uncertainty, we seem to hear conflicting and worrying information every time we turn on the TV or unlock our phones. When everything around your members is rapidly changing, it is crucial to present your credit union as steadfast and stable. Determine your messaging and how you are going to position the institution, and stick to this plan across all platforms.

2. Reassure Your Members

Periods of economic distress can be frightening, and your members will often be looking to you for reassurance. It is important to maintain an optimistic tone, paired with continuous and transparent communication, to preserve loyalty and trust amongst your members.

Consumers may consider pulling back or reevaluating their spending—and that might be making the hard choice between a car payment or a load of groceries—so delivering reassurance to members will help reinforce a personal connection and demonstrate empathy.

3. Don’t Ignore the Elephant in the Room

While it might feel more comfortable not to address the challenging and changing times that we are living through, part of staying relevant is showing members that your credit union is on top of the latest developments, regulations and trends in the industry and the economy. By building, updating and sharing timely and helpful resources, you’ll build members’ trust while navigating the forever-evolving financial landscape.

4. Focus on Owned and Earned Opportunities

A “pay-to-play" opportunity may seem like a quick marketing win, and there is a time and place for these types of engagements; however, part of recession-proofing your marketing strategy is focusing on pursuing media opportunities that can be earned without spending monetary resources.

By being selective with paid and sponsored relationships, your credit union can allot more time and energy for social media strategy, including building brand awareness, creating a consistent blog and developing other pieces of informational content to promote—especially when budgeting is a top consideration.

5. Stay Positive

Although a recession may be looming, inevitably a period of recovery will follow. Through good times and bad, credit unions stand firm like a lighthouse, serving as a beacon of hope to members in every season. Keep a positive mindset and provide members with the tools and guidance to weather the hard times, so that you can help them flourish once the economy recovers.

Keeping these points in mind in the development of your digital marketing strategy will ensure your credit union withstands the test of time, no matter the external circumstances. Not only will a recession-proofed marketing plan help your credit union navigate the future with success, but more importantly, members will appreciate the consistency and stability amidst times of uncertainty.

Anna Kate Mahaney is a marketing associate at William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or its blog.

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