5 Strategies to Grow Your Credit Union's Membership
Credit union membership is on the rise, according to CUNA Mutual Group’s most recent Credit Union Trends Report. In fact, membership is growing 4.8% faster in 2017 than during that timeframe last year. This is exciting news for our industry, yes – but we mustn’t allow any positive momentum to cause us to take our eyes off the prize or rest on our laurels. In order to compete with other financial institutions and capture new market share, credit unions must proactively develop and execute modern and effective growth strategies.
Beyond traditional standards, such as offering lower rates and fees, here are five ways your credit union can grow its membership and further chip away at the big banks’ stronghold.
1. Innovate constantly.
Prospective members, particularly younger, more tech-savvy demographics, will not look twice at your credit union if you don’t have modern technology that is both easily accessible and easy to use. That’s the deal, and it’s increasingly non-negotiable. Online and mobile banking, and mobile wallet features are must-haves, and your digital platforms should be updated constantly in order to stay in line with current trends. An important point of clarification – given how rapidly new technology is being developed, it’s generally impossible for credit unions to offer both the latest and greatest. However, there is no question that you must at least offer the industry standard.
2. Educate your members on products and services.
Your credit union should be analyzing member data to learn more about what your members need. With a better understanding of where deficits and opportunities exist, you can make data-driven decisions about how to engage with membership segments that may benefit from educational outreach. Your core software should provide you with demographic and behavioral insights that can guide you in cross-selling to members and letting them know how additional products and/or services can benefit them specifically.
3. Incentivize members to tell others about your credit union.
Establishing a loyalty program is a way to retain current members and attract new ones. To turn members into “brand ambassadors” for your credit union, provide incentives for getting friends and family to join (e.g., points toward a loyalty program they can collect and redeem, rebates, etc.). Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool.
4. Host community activities.
Credit unions are preferable to banks and other financial institutions for many reasons, most notably because of the sense of community they provide. Host social events for your members to get to know you and other members of the credit union, and find new ways to give back to your community — younger generations are much more likely to do business with organizations that are socially responsible.
5. Focus on younger members.
Focus your marketing efforts on attracting younger members who are just beginning their financial journeys. A targeted approach is best – consider what information younger members are looking for (e.g. how to take out a loan, how to budget, etc.), and frequently post related content on your website and social channels that addresses these topics. If you have an advertising budget, social platforms empower you with the tools to target specific demographics very granularly.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg – the way in which we reach and engage with current and prospective members is shifting constantly. Many traditional, tried-and-true growth strategies still have their place, but no longer are as effective as a stand-alone option. Growth in 2017 and beyond demands an integrated approach, which combines new age thinking and technological resources with an old-school, personal touch.
Rhiannon Stone is COO for EPL, Inc. She can be reached at 205-408-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.