Avoid Becoming a One-Off Business: Ten Opportunities

19608623_xxlOne of the most important questions in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace is, can you be a “one-off” business?  Meaning, can you afford to have one product with a member, such as one checking account, one auto loan or one home equity loan or one certificate of deposit?  The answer is, usually, a resounding “no!” The credit union does need volume and it also needs the efficiencies that come with serving one member with multiple financial products to make them profitable.

So, how do you keep the focus and help your staff develop relationships where your members are profitable by turning to you for a majority of their financial needs?

The key is that these 10 ideas are the starters for your brand “story” to be able to gain more of an emotional tie with members for retention and to get them to tell their friends, family and coworkers that your credit union is the only place for their banking.  It’s all about creating “the story” around the kind of service, convenience, and value that your credit union offers.

  1. Brand Identity: Use a positioning statement/tagline to have members think of your Credit Union first.  Is there a competitive advantage that you want members and prospective members to know about?  Does that advantage engender a lot of pride, and provide focus for your credit union employees?  Are you always competitive, providing superior service, fulfilling dreams, making life easier, or fitting an active lifestyle?  As a reminder, the tagline helps to carve a niche in the mind of the member, and prospective member about why they should remember your credit union! If you don’t carve that niche or protect it with a positioning statement or tagline, you leave them to make up their own idea of what you represent in their life.
  2. Business Development: Continuously recruit new members. Do you still have a relationship with your original sponsor or group of SEGs?  You need employed people to borrow or save, right? Maintaining those relationships is a much more direct approach than trying to convince the general community to walk in, call or search online to see what you offer.
  3. Member Relationships: Focus on the new member cross-sell.  The issue is to not let the new member open the one-off product.  When a new member opens an account, your staff member should be able to approve him/her for a credit card, personal loan, or additional savings product.  Using direct mail and email marketing for on-boarding is good to keep suggesting more.  However, in this very frenetic world, getting their attention and focus at the time of joining is critical.  Wrap them into more of a relationship from the start or you may never get them back again.
  4. Access: Use technology for attracting more relationships with members. Is it really easy to open a membership with your credit union or to get a loan in less than a minute online?  Is your staff fully supported with technology that provides the kind of service that has members telling their friends, family and coworkers about?  If you invest in technology, ensure your staff is good at using it, talking about it and demonstrating it.  Members will know how it helps them manage their lives more easily, supporting their financial needs are with excellent technology!
  5. Business Relationships: Recruit ambassadors from partners and community. If your credit union is offering business services, what ways are you romancing them to have their employees join your credit union? While many of them are small businesses, they are employed and have a variety of financial needs.  So, making an effort to encourage the adoption of your credit union at these businesses for employees, and family members, helps stretch your reach.
  6. Profitability: Treat your profitable members like gold with special offers. Do you know who they are? In some credit unions, a mere 10% contribute all of the profit that subsidizes the other 90%.  Few business models work when the top profitable member/customer are wooed away!  If the profitable members leave, who replaces the profit contribution?
  7. Pricing:  Set up reward structures for more business.  Is there a way to build a small bonus on a certificate for members with a new auto loan? Can you offer a discount on a loan for a large depositor? What about a combination of a young adult checking with a credit card that has a better rate than they typically can get with no credit history?  It’s finding ways to reward members for bringing more to your credit union.  After joining your credit union, and getting multiple products, it will be harder for them to leave!
  8. Competitive Positioning: Show how you rate with a description of potential savings.  If you are letting members research what your low rate or low fees means to them in terms of saving money, you’re missing an opportunity.   You can show an example of what you saved a member who refinanced with you.  Or, show an example of what another bank or credit union in town has with a higher loan rate.  Do it with everything you offer in some way – show how you can save the member money or make more on their money with your credit union – in specific numbers! Don’t leave it to the member’s imagination – convince them!
  9. Target Marketing: Stretch marketing resources using target groups. By using technology from your core system or an MCIF/database software package, profile members who are likely to want a certain product or service.  The concept is that if a member gets a piece of mail or an email that is more personalized, there is a better opportunity to generate a lead. Why? Because the member can identify with an offer that “fits” them.  For example, a home equity promotional mailer that is sent to a member who is 45 years old, who has their home mortgage with your credit union, and who has kids going to college, may also want to remodel.  Then, it’s not junk mail or email spam, it makes sense to the member.
  10. Service: Focus on quality service & good recovery.  Do you know what it is like to walk into your credit union and begin a relationship?  Does every staff member have a working knowledge of all your technology to be able to talk intelligently with members about how it will help them make managing their money more convenient?  The touches of service that matter are not just about smiling and being efficient, it’s about being able to suggest to the member with confidence, how to save more, make more or manage their money more easily.

Listening to a client’s strategic goals for the year this week, I noted the frustration of the CEO that lending ended up negative for the year and that membership had not grown due to dormant accounts being closed. So, the year ahead had goals of 5% loan growth and 7% membership growth. Key was that there was a lot of technology mentioned to be competitive but no discussion of the marketing strategy that would help build the leads and help staff gain traction.

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