Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.
-John D. Rockefeller
No matter what your goals, increasing member awareness and engagement should be a priority. Here are a few fundamental ideas to help drive your success:
Focus on awareness across multiple channels
We have more marketing and communications channels available to reach out to members now than ever before, from traditional media, to electronic channels, to more recent opportunities like social networking. Different members will respond to different marketing channels, so it is important to identify what are the most effective channels for your members and then deliver a consistent, coordinated message across them. Coordinated multi-channel marketing with a clear call to action can really make a big difference in the success of your promotions.
Engage them, direct them, and interact with them
Once you've drawn the members in, engage them. How many members come to your website, log in to home banking, and then leave? When Atlantic Financial FCU used an interactive CU Web Hunt on their website, members were rewarded for exploring around the deeper pages of the site, incidentally discovering all those great rates and services. The result? Just through that increased awareness and interaction with the existing material in their website, AFFCU increased new memberships by 68% and new loan dollars by 66% during the campaign. It is definitely important to give the members reasons to get to know you, clear paths to relevant information, and clear calls to action.
Enable self actualization and hands-on learning
Rather than sell to your members, give them the means to teach themselves. This can be a very powerful tool for both education and marketing. Here's one example: Many credit unions offer members tens of thousands of surcharge-free ATMs and shared branches, and have literally 2 or 3 times as many ATMs available as the big mega banks, but the members just don't seem to get it. You are lucky if they even know what a shared branch is! You can tell them you are convenient until you are blue in the face, with no real impact. On the other hand, if you put all those locations from all those networks into one easy interactive tool inside your branded page, and the member can easily look at their own house or office, see the cars in the parking lot, and see the neighborhood just covered with locations, that changes the perception of your convenience at a gut level.
It's that self-actualized, hands-on, interactive approach that lets people learn about your virtues for themselves. This same approach can be powerfully applied to your rates, your lending products, your financial literacy program, and more.
Encourage members to be your advocates and then reward them
More than just educating and engaging members, you need to win them over as advocates. There is no other form of marketing more powerful than word of mouth. You already offer the best rates and services around. Now you have to get that message through to your members, and make them proud and excited about your credit union to the point that they want to crow about it to their friends and family members. Many marketers are confused about what to do with Facebook, twitter and the like. The power of these social networking tools is not necessarily for you to sell yourself, but for your members to spread the word on your behalf. In a certain sense, this represents the ultimate goal of really engaging the member - win them over, give them easy ways to tell your story to the world, and then track and reward their advocacy.
By Jason Green, president of Code Green (www.codegreen.org).