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Wise Credit Union Marketing Investments Lead to Growth

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By Bo McDonald

4 minutes

How several organizations have benefitted from outsourcing

Sponsored by Your Marketing Co.

Do more with less. That’s smart business, especially in shaky and uncertain times like we’re in now. But efficiency also takes the ability to be collaborative, creative and think differently. Aren’t those foundational ideals on which credit unions were built in the first place?

As you begin budgeting for 2021, consider outsourcing your credit union’s marketing. The benefits can be numerous, from fresh ideas to cost savings and more. Here are some critical characteristics to look for in a strong outsourced marketing firm:

  1. Preparing appropriately
  2. Understanding leadership’s direction 
  3. Asking the right freaking questions
  4. Guiding with enthusiasm
  5. Setting clear goals 
  6. Maintaining accountability

Part of that preparation as in No. 1 is really understanding in what direction leadership wants to take the credit union. Marketing isn’t just making posters and brochures or slapping silly social media posts up. Sure, you can do all of that, but it must be aligned to achieve the credit union’s goals. That means ensuring policies, procedures, operations or other factors are not keeping a credit union from backing its marketing with a great, aligned member experience. That means using a firm that’s not afraid to ask the tough questions to help the credit union reach its goals.

Preparation paid off for $73 million Secured Advantage Federal Credit Union, Simpsonville, South Carolina. CEO Michal Parker, a CUES member, explains: “YMC’s ideas are fresh and exactly what we needed. Their advice and willingness to go over and above traditional marketing processes has been invigorating for our staff and membership. The perspective they bring is very credit union centered and yet so spot on with the current vibe in the media marketplace.”

Once goals are set, everyone involved in the credit union’s marketing must be held accountable. When $30 million St. Tammany Federal Credit Union, Slidell, Louisiana, created its first marketing plan with YMC, the credit union exceeded its goals. According to CEO Glenda Rushe, St. Tammany FCU’s 2019 goal was $8 million in loans by year-end. It hit $11 million, and is on track for its $10 million goal in 2020.

That’s strategic marketing, and most small- and mid-sized credit unions can only dream of having a CMO, because the budget won’t allow for it. That doesn’t negate the need to bring in new members, loans and deposits. Following the cooperative model credit unions were founded on and collaborating with other credit unions to share a team of credit union marketing experts just makes sense.

“Being a small credit union, we can’t afford a full-time, in-house marketing person,”explains Faye Crocker, CEO of $22 million HopeSouth Credit Union, Abbeville, South Carolina, “but with the YMC team, that is exactly what we get for a fraction of the cost.” 

Won’t that make your CFO happy? Drive growth, spend less, provide more member value by outsourcing their strategic marketing needs.

Cost savings is a great benefit, no doubt. But outsourced strategic marketing for credit unions leads to greater efficiency, brand consistency and, most importantly, innovation. By outsourcing to a team of full-time credit union marketing experts, there’s no need to hire additional FTEs for things like graphic design and social media, with brand and messaging getting lost among various vendors. 

Credit unions that have outsourced their marketing to a firm that works with progressive, like-minded credit unions benefit from a constant flow of collaboration on new ideas that lead to proven above-average growth. 

One of our clients, $31.4 million Members Credit Union in Cobs Cob, Connecticut, determined it wanted to serve the local Hispanic market, the fastest-growing minority population in the United States, and one of the most difficult markets for credit unions to reach. Members CU did not have internal staff resources to dedicate to the Latino market, but was able to work with our Hispanic marketing specialists to get the strategic and marketing solutions it needed to engage, earn trust and serve Latinos. Members CU was literally saved from merger by increasing its brand awareness, community affinity and member growth in that community. 

Members CU is already seeing the rewards of its intentional, focused effort to attract members of the local Latino community, according to CEO Kathy Chartier. “Our growth takes a lot of effort and, previously, all the marketing responsibilities for our little credit union fell to me,” she explains. “Now, we are able to leverage Your Marketing Co.’s extensive experience in marketing, and its new program built specifically to reach the Latino market.”

As your credit union begins the budget process for 2021, consider outsourcing your credit union’s strategic marketing function to achieve more with less. Trying new things is uncomfortable, and I recognize your brand is everything, but results-driven collaboration can achieve great work in your credit union and communities. 

Bo McDonald is president of CUES Supplier member Your Marketing Co., Greenville, South Carolina.

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