Beat Big Bank Branding on a CU Budget
You resent them a little, don’t you? Those big banks with their huge marketing budgets and well-known brands. Their glossy brochures and those dazzling websites. Your credit union has great ideas, too, but with such a limited budget, it’s impossible to accomplish.
Or is it?
There are ways, not so secret and not so expensive, that can help your credit union execute some effective marketing of its own. You might not have the colossal budget or huge marketing team, but you do have talent, determination and these five ideas to help you improve the strength of your brand.
Communicate your brand with every marketing effort.
If you haven’t already, you must work to strengthen your credit union’s brand awareness. Evaluate all marketing and communication pieces. Take steps to make sure that all your collateral is consistent in design and voice and is not in conflict with the brand your credit union has established. Your newsletters, direct mail pieces and website should all be reflective of one another and of your brand. The goal is to have members and potential members identify that look with you and recognize you quickly. Plug into the power of your members. Why hire actors or pay for expensive (and boring) stock photography when you could feature your own members and their stories in your advertising? Nothing is more compelling than a testimonial from a trusted source that has actually used the product. Your credit union likely has hundreds of members who are willing to share their time and stories. Use them in video, print and other marketing initiatives. Some of the strongest marketing taps into the real and genuine elements of the brand. Nothing says real and genuine more than using your own members.
Maximize social media interaction.
Your members are active social media users and your credit union should be, too. The biggest and most popular platforms are free and offer great opportunities for you to reach members and potential members. Get active on Facebook and Twitter. Then consider other popular platforms, like blogging and Pinterest. Video is a powerful tool and if you have any, create a YouTube channel. Then advertise all these ways your members can interact with you. Make sure they know how to find your social media platforms and be an active participant in online discussions.
Be active in the communities you serve.
The big banks might sponsor events by throwing dollars at them, but rarely do they have an actual people presence on-site. Your credit union’s advantage is its local affiliation. You know your members and your members know you. Leverage that by having your staff at the events you sponsor. Set up an information booth at the local fair or community carnival. Give away inexpensive prizes. Sponsor a race. Have a float in the Christmas parade. Do whatever it takes to demonstrate a presence in the eyes and hearts of area members and potential members.
International Credit Union Day.
This day is like the July 4th for credit unions. Make sure your members know about it well in advance, using communications methods like your newsletter, website and branch signs. Host an open house, serve refreshments and use the day to further educate your members about the credit union movement and how you differ from banks. Tie the day into a contest or drawing. Offer a special temporary rate on deposits or loans. Have fun piggy-backing on this great opportunity.
There you have it. Five simple ways to help your credit union go toe-to-toe with the big boys and improve your brand awareness. Getting past big bank envy is just the first step. By playing smarter as well as harder, credit unions can take advantage of the many ways available to them to brand on a budget.
Jim Foley is president and creative director at Loudthought.
Contact 214-827-2600 or firstname.lastname@example.org