Posts Tagged ‘Credit Unions’

The Elephant (Banker) In The Room

November 3, 2010 6 comments

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the CU Water Cooler Symposium. When Matt Davis invited me, I was very hesitant. “You actually want a banker to attend?”, I asked.  “Sure, why not?”, was the response. “You can bring a different perspective.”

So off to Fishers, IN I went. Let me tell you, this had to be the best conference I’ve ever attended. There were two days of great speakers and a wealth of information. As someone commented, if you didn’t get a ticket because you thought it would just be about social media, bad mistake.

The tweets from the event are only a sample of a information we received. You can find an archive here.

While the symposium as a whole was great, I’d just like to highlight a few sessions:

Robbie Wright, from CU Innovators, spoke about using social media to discuss the hard topics.  He said that instead of just talking about marketing fluff, we should try solving the hard problems.  Credit unions need to focus on the non-sexy to stand out for their customers.  At the end of the day, credit unions are a business, not a charity.  They can’t just focus on “being on Twitter and Facebook”. Social media needs to add value to customers and the credit union.  You should build a business case to use these tools and income is a good thing.

Rebecca Corliss, from Hubspot, gave a presentation on inbound marketing.  I’m a big fan of Hubspot and have always wanted to meet someone from the company. Hubspot really helps you leverage your online presence to generate leads. Old school marketing is interruption based while the new school is permission based.  Some advice Rebecca gave was to think of inbound marketing as an ecosystem, not a cubicle.  You need to target your keywords in order to build your rank.  Inbound marketing is an investment and can build down the cost of leads.  Another piece of advice was to have more than one “contact” form.  The forms on your website should have a “call to action”, not just ask for generic information.

Ed Brett, from Westminster Savings, would probably get the vote for best speaker.  No slides, just straight talk.  Ed explained that although his credit union was much smaller than the competition, they were able to compete because they take advantage of their small size.  Smaller companies are able to be much more agile so there are less levels to go through to get to a decision.  At larger companies, there are more politics, agendas, and decision makers.  Also, credit unions need to be better bankers than the bankers.  This is a business and they need to help people do their banking better.  There should be less emphasis on social media and more on simplifying banking.  If you want to be agile, you should partner with agile vendors.  At the end of the day, you need to bring value to your members.  Ed also gave three statements that really stood out to me:

1. I challenge you to find other industries that are seeking to model their service after credit unions (banks).
2. The only innovation in financial services over the last 50 years has been in ‘access’
3. Your job is not to use technology, but to apply it.

Maya Bourdeau, from Attune, spoke about Psychology in Marketing.  She talked about how her company discovered that small sample sizes gave as good results as large pools of participants.  But, of course you have to be very discriminate in selecting your small sample.  Another thing they discovered through their marketing development was credit unions need to show two times the value to get members to switch from a bank.  They also said to keep it simple and explain the personal benefit.  For example, instead of saying “we helped people save over $7 billion”, say “we can help YOU save $200”.

In addition, I had the opportunity to be on the expert panel about credit union branding.  One recurring theme was credit unions really need to sit down and decide what they want to be.  I mentioned that credit unions need to play to their strengths and explain how they’re different from banks.  Most people don’t know what the difference between the two is.  I also stated that “credit unions can’t out bank a bank, we’ve got that down”.

All in all, this was a great conference and I’m looking forward to going back next year.  One question I was continually asked was, “why don’t you work for a credit union?”.  My response was, “I believe I’m a credit union person trapped in a banker’s body.”  As Morriss Partee said, that statement is “an instant classic”.

You can find more summaries here:
CU Times
Committed to Memory
Currency Marketing
The 2020 Vision of Marketing
Video of Presentations

It’s Not That Obvious

April 7, 2010 2 comments

I came across this post on the SC Federal “Simple Cents” blog the other day.  In the article, they were giving reasons for why a business customer should pick their credit union over a big bank in the area.  Now, I’m a fan of credit unions, well…people at credit unions.  But the reasons they gave just didn’t sit well with me.  Here’s the list, along with my comments:

Member owned – sense of ownership – one share one vote!
We have the same.  You too can purchase a share of stock and get one vote for each owned share.

Shareholders, not stockholders – bank’s charge fees to pay their stockholders!
shareholder – Any person, company, or other institution that owns at least 1 share in a company. A shareholder may also be referred to as a stockholder.
And actually, we charge fees to make a profit.  We also charge interest on our loans.  Last I checked, credit unions charge fees and interest also. But no profit, no dividend (payment to stockholders).

Our Board of Directors are unpaid volunteers – they volunteer because they believe in the credit union movement!
Our Board of Directors are paid.  They are also stockholders in the bank.  Basically, they put their money where their mouth is.

Personalized service – you’re not just a number!
Hey, we know your name also.  We also know all of your family and wave and speak to you when we see you outside the bank.

Local decisions – your account or loan applications don’t go to a headquarters somewhere across the nation!
Since we have branches along the coast, the farthest branch is 4 hours away. But loan/account decisions are made in each market.

Call our contact center or visit a branch as many times as you want – some banks charge after a certain amount of visits/calls for service you deserve anyway!
Ok, the only bank that I know that did this was Wachovia, which is now Wells Fargo, which doesn’t charge for teller transactions.  (If I’m wrong, someone please point me to the correct fee schedule)

Typically lower fees, lower loan rates, and higher dividend rates!
Glad they said typically, their fee schedule would make Bank of America blush.  Yeah, some rates are lower, especially for cars. As for dividends, I don’t know how that works at a credit union.

Convenience – ATMs, Online Banking, CURewards points, Financial Education seminars, and the list goes on!
Yep, we have all that also.  You can even earn cash back with our Dollars4Debits promotion.  We also have remote deposit capture for businesses and balance/transactions alerts in mobile banking.

Honestly, if this is how credit unions sell themselves as being better than banks (especially community banks), it’s no wonder people aren’t beating down their doors.  A credit union can’t “out bank” a bank.  If I were the business owner, I’d be thinking “so, what’s the difference?”  I know that there are better reasons to join a credit union.  These just aren’t them.

Photo by Laurel714

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