Council Corner

 Seize the Day

CUs have a rare opportunity to achieve significant growth.

December 12, 2011

It's time to spend money on marketing and business development efforts.

There, I’ve said it.

And here’s why: Recent events have supported what a lot of credit union marketing and business development professionals have known for quite some time: Credit unions have a historic opportunity to capture more consumer market share.

Customer dissatisfaction with banks is at an all-time high. Many banks recently introduced outrageous fees to attempt to recoup expected revenue losses resulting from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Consumers aren’t taking the news lying down. They are angry and looking for alterna-tives. In this climate, credit unions should step up on any pedestal they can find and proclaim they’re ready, willing, and able to serve new members.

Some credit unions are do-ing a fantastic job! Others are a bit behind.

To attract new members in this time of opportunity, empower your marketing and busi-ness development staff. This means:

  • Investing in new technology, infrastructure, and state-of-the-art operations platforms;
  • Developing innovative products and services that will attract new members; and
  • Using a more modern vernacular when trying to attract new members. No one knows what a “share draft” is, but everyone knows what a check is.

If your credit union is looking to attract the all-important Generation Y demographic, simplify your language, avoid jargon, and get more social and visual with your marketing efforts.

For those of you thinking I don’t understand credit union financials and I’m off-base with these suggestions, I beg to differ.

One of my top priorities as chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council is to provide educational resources to our council’s 1,000-plus members on calculating asset/liability management financials.

Because marketing affects all aspects of an organization, people running the marketing and business development departments need to have a working knowledge of these critical functions. So far, our efforts have been well-received.

While I’m on a roll, it’s time for credit unions to get serious about serving a new generation of members. And everything matters!

Take a look at the furniture in your branches. Are you still using desks from the 1970s? Is there a typewriter in plain sight? Are you still taping flyers to walls instead of using video screens, tablets, or other current technology to communicate your message?

To find money to invest in the future of your credit union, conduct a thorough, across-the-board audit of your expenses.

Are there expenses you can eliminate? For example, does your credit union really need to spend thousands of dollars on pens each year? How much paper does your credit union use each year? If you don’t know, I’m sure the quantity will shock you. Small adjustments can make a big difference.

Another option is collaborative advertising. One advantage many large, national banks enjoy over credit unions is dedicated, consistent marketing, notes the CUNA Council white paper, “Collective Power” (; select “white papers” under “tools and resources”).

While most credit unions can’t individually match these efforts, by combining funds and coordinating marketing, they can go toe-to-toe with bigger bank brands.

Check out my blog ( for more ideas on how to help your credit union reach its market share potential.

While we face this great opportunity, credit unions will see results only if we let people know who we are and prove that we can remain relevant by using the best technology and offering the most innovative products and services.

Let’s stop talking about it and do it!

SEAN MCDONALD is director of business development at Mid-State FCU, Carteret, N.J., and chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council. Contact him at 201-920-9328 or at . For more information about the CUNA Councils, visit