The new business development
Virtual events, education, and giveaways keep credit unions connected with their sponsor companies and communities.
The pandemic has required credit unions to change their business development strategies, according to a panel of credit union leaders at the 2020 CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Virtual Conference and Collection.
The panel featured:
- Fred Brown, director of marketing and member development at Northeast Family Federal Credit Union in Manchester, Conn.
- Carma Parrish, CEO at NorthPark Community Credit Union in Indianapolis, Ind.
- Dorian Smith, senior vice president of business development at American Heritage Federal Credit Union in Philadelphia, Pa.
The panel was moderated by Lynn Heider, vice president of public relations at Northwest Credit Union Association.
Smith says American Heritage hosts virtual events with physicians, who discuss health and safety topics. It also offers sessions on safely commuting to and from work during the pandemic, and even a virtual tour of a local museum.
“The best strategy was education,” Smith says of the credit union’s approach. “It wasn’t about dollars and cents, but about health, welfare, and surviving.”
Northeast Family Federal recognizes area first responders. The credit union purchased 900 lunches, 250 breakfasts, and 80 gift cards from local restaurants and businesses for first responders, customized with notes of appreciation from the credit union.
“We made sure the money was kept in the community,” he says.
NorthPark Community connected a gas giveaway to auto loan refinancing in which staff visited local gas stations and paid for people’s gas.
Employees also visited a local restaurant and paid for people’s breakfasts, using the opportunity to talk about the credit union’s payday loan alternative product.
“Being able to connect with people was so much better than a mailer of any kind,” Parrish says.
During the pandemic, maximizing existing credit union resources is key. For Parrish, this meant reallocating resources to enable more business development.
“How can you get creative with the resources you have?” she asks.
Smith cites American Heritage’s business development trailer as a useful tool during the pandemic. The credit union takes the trailer to local businesses, safely interacting with community members outside.
“We try to make sure we’re accessible,” he says.
Brown says asset size shouldn’t be a barrier to business development.
“I’ve done some pretty big things with pretty little funds,” he says. “Have fun with what you do.”
►Visit CUNA News for more conference coverage and view event highlights on Twitter via the #MBDVirtual and #MBDCouncil hashtags. Learn more about the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, a member-led professional society for credit union executives, at cunacouncils.org.