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Valerie Morris hosted a panel discussion with Nancy Hill (AAAA), Caroline Lane (CO-OP Financial Services), Jeff Manning and Brett King to explore the take-aways of THINK 11.

  • Caroline Lane said that Credit Unions are often too modest and don’t communicate their strengths well enough.
  • Brett King argued that Credit Unions need to talk the talk. More importantly, they have to walk the walk. Embrace experimentation and provide a more delightful experience.
  • Nancy Hill, a proud member of a Credit Union, compared the communications between banks and Credit Unions. Her bank has apps and is more accessible but the Credit Union is almost not on her radar.

Credit Unions don’t embrace risk enough and reduce opportunities to grow awareness and consideration. Using negative advertising might be too risky since it might hurt the community aspect of the Credit Union brand. Jeff Manning asked the audience to consider a soft approach of communicating that customers have an option, they are not forced to stick with their bank.

Nancy Hill recommended to do some basic research and start slow, instead of rolling out a massive, national campaign. Caroline Lane mentioned that the challenge for a national campaign is that Credit Unions don’t want to let go of their individual Credit Union brand equity. While Credit Unions collaborate on a micro level, they usually don’t on the macro level. Category Marketing, like “Got Milk” can lift all boats.

The conversation shifted to the behavioral shift we’re all experiencing. It’s imperative for Credit Unions to be part of the conversation and the biggest risk for Credit Unions is not to be aware of the conversation and use it as a service recovery tool. But don’t eliminate traditional advertising. Instead, integrate all marketing channels in an effective and efficient way and associate your brand with the preferred delivery channels of your customers.

Good advertising is very focused and right on strategy. Valeria Morris questioned if there’s a lack of focus on the Credit Union side: Should they change the “Credit Union” name? Should they eliminate the “membership” angle of Credit Unions. The panel was lukewarm on the idea of changing the name but rather asked Credit Unions to change the experience. Some Credit Unions already started to change, a participant from PATELCO shared her story of eliminating “Credit Union” from their branding.

Ask yourself: How would this country change when all Credit Unions disappear? This might help focus your marketing. What value are you adding that people will miss? How can you make your members’ lives better?

Final take-aways:

  • Jeff Manning: Be humble and admit that you don’t know everything.
  • Caroline Lane: If we stay fragmented, our category will not survive.
  • Brett King: The importance of Social Media and mobile. Appoint somebody at a very senior level to oversee these initiatives.
  • Nancy Hill: Start with small wins.