Blogs, Apps, and Demographics

Make sure marketing strategies evolve with technology and your CU's market.

August 1, 2010
When I was a kid, only a few digital devices were available. For example, I wore a digital Timex watch.

Then there was that glorious day when we bought a television remote, and I no longer had to get up off the couch to change the channel.

Skip ahead 10 years or so to when I got my first cell phone. It was physically huge—too big to fit into my pocket.

We’ve come so far during the past three decades. Now cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDA) are “slim,” “super slim,” and “ultra slim.”

Digital technology is no longer the “wave of the future.” It’s here and now. And marketers and business development professionals must get on board with it to survive and thrive.

There’s a lot of buzz in the industry about how to attract more generation Y members—a crucial topic for credit unions to address. The average age of credit union members is 47, and it’s not going down. Bottom line: We need to add younger members to our membership rolls.

These younger members are incredibly tech-savvy. They read newspapers and magazines online. They get their gossip from blogs. They get their business referrals and recommendations from Facebook and Twitter. They’re hungry for the latest gadgets and “apps.”

And it’s not only young people who are going digital. Baby boomers and gen Xers—actually most consumers (and potential members)—have gone digital. And there’s no going back.

As the communication channels shift, how can credit unions capture more of the market?

Here are several strategies that can help in that effort:

• Carefully examine your credit union’s market or “footprint” to iden­tify the marketing methods that provide the most return on investment.

• Perform in-depth research on market demographics. Every market is different.

• Consider implementing Internet advertising and in-branch television screens.

• Investigate mobile banking oppor­tunities, text messaging, e-mail marketing, and social media.

• Make sure your marketing efforts are as targeted as possible.

• Drive more traffic to your credit union’s website.

On this last point, I have a specific example. Like most credit unions, mine orders promotional materials and giveaways. A couple of years ago, I ordered our regular supply of pens and key chains, but I made a big change to the text printed on them. The only thing that appeared on the new items was our credit union’s Web address. No name, no phone number—only the Web address.

Our website traffic increased dramatically in the weeks and months that followed. Unique visitors to our website increased about 10%. And online banking sign-ups increased about 12% during the six months following the promotion.

One final thought on digital marketing—make sure your marketing is relevant and accurate. What works today might not work tomorrow. Your marketing efforts must evolve (almost continuously) in the same way the digital world evolves and changes.

SEAN MCDONALD is chief marketing officer at Liberty Savings Federal Credit Union, Jersey City, N.J., and vice chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council. Contact him at 201-239-7038. For more information about CUNA Councils, visit