Four Credit Union Fashions for Any Season: Editor's Column
Keep an eye on these hot little numbers coming down the credit union runway this season. It could help your institution become the next top credit union.
“SECU is not considered safe and sound at this time,” according to Herb Yolles in our page 1 story. The idea that that credit union is not safe and sound, and from what we can tell better off than many of its peers, is preposterous.
Not many credit unions are as true to their roots as SECU, from its mortgage mitigation program to its partnership with the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that helped 57,000 members, including $22.7 million in earned income tax credits and more than $12 million in child tax credits. This credit union contributes millions to charities like the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and builds convenient, low-cost housing for local teachers. This is a credit union’s credit union. Taking on this credit union is not a good idea.
But aside from that, taking on a public relations grand pooh bah like Jim Blaine, who made news merely on the fact he equated bankers to brothels from the main stage during CUNA’s GAC in 2004 (much to the association’s chagrin). While it may not have been for the best in that instance, Blaine is very smart in general and said things that are memorable. He’s a powerful force.
Blaine has said the NCUA is trying to get at the state regulator, Jerrie Jay. The dual chartering system is very important and must be preserved to provide the checks and balances it was intended to. The NCUA is making its own case to separate its regulatory duties from the insurance fund–something the agency does not want.
The NCUA IG report statement that agency representatives were not lying about who shared the draft DOR when only thinly veiled that the emperor wore no clothes. This is why the regulatory oversight reform bill providing an outside appeal of NCUA decisions is important.
2. New Dress Code
Social business is the current trend in business. The Filene Research Institute, as a piece of its “Think. Do.” motto, has worked out a pilot program with Amazon–yes, that Amazon–to promote credit unions’ credit cards to its customers, as well as allowing for reviews side-by-side with other’s cards. The implications of this could be huge for credit unions in not only potential gaining members, but also marketing credit union services to a group that’s already comfortable with online transacting.
I can hear the objections bubbling up already. We’ll lose the personal touch with our members. We won’t know these people trying to obtain our cards. Our credit union has a very targeted FOM. But how about taking the idea and hashing out how you might make it work for your credit union before pooh-poohing it without really giving it some thought.
Creativity is the new pin stripe suit in financial services, and it’s obvious who’s wearing it and who’s not.
3. Socially Acceptable
Think about ways to make your credit union a more social business. Companies like Facebook and iHeartRadio have grown like few ever have by recognizing the need to serve the users and collaboration.
What can credit unions adapt from these business models? For starters, return to credit unions’ cooperative roots. Of course, you compete with other credit unions in your area, but many pay too much attention to other credit unions and not enough to other financial services providers. Other credit unions are a minute part of your competition relative to the banks, PayPal, Walmart, and payday lenders just to name a few. Two heads are better than one. Design a more flattering neckline.
Your swag has no swagger. I, and probably many of you, have so many pens from various credit unions it’s not even funny. Pens are nice (if they work) and useful but very unmemorable for the recipient who already has hundreds from other businesses.
How about bringing your swag into the 21st century with logo stylus instead? Or as @CoBrandedCards (Alliance Companies) suggested on Twitter last week when I shared this idea logo smartphone covers. For now these would be a somewhat novel marketing pieces to jump on.
These ideas are bigger than simple swag. They illustrate a brand that is embracing the future, not one handing out quills and inkwells. It’s the detail work that makes an outfit.