Vantage West CU's Hispanic marketing campaign features a billboard pledging to be "everything you deserve" from a financial institution.
If your credit union is considering how to better serve Hispanics in your region, the leadership team of Vantage West Credit Union’s outreach effort offers a valuable piece of advice: Don't think of language as a barrier.
“It's important to keep in mind that most Hispanics speak English, and a significant number of them prefer to do business in English,” say Jill Casey, Vantage West’s assistant vice president of eCommerce and Public Relations, and Luis Soto, Hispanic segment marketing manager.
So, address the language issue with Hispanics the same way you would any other member preference—with respect and sincere interest in offering them the products and services that best address their needs.
“We recognized that communicating in Spanish with the Hispanic segment can help build a connection in some instances, but not every message has to be delivered in Spanish,” Soto and Casey say. “Sometimes, it’s more important to be culturally aware and inclusive.”
As part of Credit Union Magazine’s focus on Hispanic membership growth initiatives, Casey and Soto provide insight on the current initiatives and strategic goals of the $1.4 billion asset credit union in Tucson, Ariz., which serves Pima, Maricopa, Cochise, and Pinal counties.
CU Mag: When and how did your CU’s Hispanic outreach program come about?
Vantage West: We’re committed to providing exceptional member service based on the needs of the communities we serve. We recognized we needed to give more attention to the growing Hispanic segments, as they comprise an important part of our current and future membership. We need to be ready to meet the growing needs of this important and fast-growing segment.
CU Mag: What’s your approach to serving Hispanics?
Vantage West: We conducted research through Coopera to help us learn more about the demographic makeup of our existing membership and to identify growth and enhanced service opportunities within our field of membership.
The tool we used, the Hispanic Opportunity Navigator (HON) [pdf], demonstrated that while we already had a good concentration of Hispanic members, we still had plenty of room for growth and improvement.
The HON identified other factors, such as language preference and product adoption rates, and specified which branches served the most Hispanic members and which had the greatest potential for growth, based on the population trends.
Coopera's HON allowed us to better focus our Hispanic marketing outreach efforts. We created a pilot program that included marketing a checking account and credit card to individuals residing near our three branches with the most Hispanic members.
The pilot program also included community involvement and sponsorship of important community events in the Hispanic communities in Tucson. And we partnered with organizations such as the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and others who can help us identify and better serve the growing Hispanic community.
With the launch of the pilot program, we began evaluating all levels within the organization—including marketing messages, branch staff, and call center representatives—to determine steps we could take to ensure our Hispanic members have access to the same outstanding member service we strive offer to all our members, both in culture and language.
Our community outreach efforts represent a key part of our Hispanic initiative, too. We offer financial readiness and information workshops in Spanish and support Hispanic nonprofit organizations and events.
While we’re still in the early stages of our program, we’re starting to see some response to our efforts. For example, we tracked the results of our marketing campaigns that were delivered in Spanish, and saw an increase in call volumes and hits on the Spanish-language page on our website. We also recently started running some bilingual ads on our Facebook feed, and these efforts have driven an increase in followers.
This demonstrates the need to continue our efforts to reach out to the Hispanic segment.
Recognizing that language is only one component of serving Hispanics, we will also be looking at membership growth and product adoption growth at our pilot branches, and reaching out for members' feedback to find out how we can best serve their needs.
CU Mag: What are the biggest challenges involved in Hispanic outreach?
Vantage West: One challenge was coming up with the best method of tracking the success of our efforts, especially given the segmentation within the Hispanic market and the distinction between language and culture. Coopera’s HON was a great tool to assist with tracking our efforts.
CU Mag: How might your Hispanic outreach efforts evolve in the future?
Vantage West: We hope to bring in more Hispanic business members, as business lending is an important growth area within this segment.
Ultimately, we want to provide full service to our Hispanic membership, in accordance with their cultural preferences and in their language of choice.
Vantage West was part of a CUNA/Coopera study that analyzed the effects of Hispanic outreach programs on operating performance and balance sheet growth.