The credit union movement has finally received the kick in the pants it needed to take advantage of the distaste for banks that has settled on many consumers during the recession.
The Huffington Post "Move Your Money" campaign has given new life to the movement by pointing consumers in the direction of credit unions. Credit unions have used the campaign to create their own versions to encourage consumers to switch from banks to credit unions. My only question is: Why did it take so long?
Credit unions should have been launching these marketing campaigns from the beginning of the recession. It shouldn't take outside media outlets finally recognizing the importance of credit unions to spur promotion and marketing within the movement.
I am happy, though, to see some real aggressive marketing coming out of some credit unions lately. Goldenwest Credit Union's campaign targeting former Barnes Banking Co. customers, see our daily news section at www.cutimes.com for the article, is an excellent example of the type of passion credit unions need to start putting into their campaigns. Using a combination of bold tactics like passing out flyers in the parking lot and going door-to-door and social media blogs and Twitter is a smart way to gain attention.
Passionate grassroots campaigns speak to my generation. If anything look at President Obama's campaign and his popularity among young voters. And we're more receptive to tweets we read or status updates we see than an ad on television.
In some cases, gaining attention could be as simple as asking people to re-tweet or re-post a message. With the earthquake disaster in Haiti, I can't tell you how many status re-posts there were on Facebook directing people to where they could donate.
The same logic can easily be applied to a campaign for credit unions. You could ask members to re-tweet or re-post a simple statement saying, "I hate my bank. I switched to a credit union" with a link to your credit union's Web site.
The majority of the time I don't re-post the messages that come through my Facebook home page, but I do read them.
Getting consumers to pay attention to credit unions, while isn't easy within itself, is only half the battle.
The other day in the mail I got a flyer with a promotion from Chase. The promotion was that they would give me $100 if I opened a checking account with them. The $100 was tempting enough to get me to start thinking about it. After reading the fine print and seeing that I had to switch my direct deposit and make a certain amount of transactions a month to qualify, it wasn't enough to get me to actually switch.
Promotions to gain new members should be simple. There shouldn't be any fine print qualifications. Gen Y as a whole is characterized as a lazy generation, and, in part, it is true. We want to do things instantaneously with the least amount of hassle as possible.
Credit unions already face the hurdle of membership. Explaining membership in a way that makes it seem like it's not a barrier is hard enough. Listing requirements in order to qualify for the promotion on top of that is confusing and could be a turned off.
It's important to keep in mind why people are disillusioned with banks. Many people feel tricked by bank fees and products. They feel that banks are out only to take advantage of them.
Credit unions don't need to put on a show to convince people to switch. Just simply state the facts and show the rates you offer.
My sister recently joined a credit union. Not because they bribed her with money or a contest but because she was looking to consolidate some debt and the credit union offered the best rate. When my father went with her to the credit union, he saw the rates they were offering on CDs were much higher than the rate he had just opened a CD at with his bank. As soon as the CD is up, my parents are going to the credit union.
I'm excited to see that credit unions are starting to make people take notice, but it can also be easy to fall into the trap of looking like a snake preying on a mouse. Credit union's should be taking customers away from banks, but just don't get too carried away in doing it. The message should be honest and simple.