Trying to deliver your product without marketing is like trying to have a party and not inviting anyone to attend. The party just is not going to happen. The invitation is key. It communicates the end result of all the planning and the reason(s) why people should come. The same holds true for your credit union's products. If your members are not properly informed about your products and services, they most definitely will not come and ask for them. On the other hand, you want to be careful to avoid creating a compelling invitation and then under delivering on its promise. If you do, your next party will have a less enthusiastic audience. So before we give all the credit to the invitation (the marketing) for the success of our party (retail success), we must first properly set expectations and then deliver a quality product that satisfies the needs of the market place. With that in mind, here are some market-driven, company-wide strategies for ensuring the delivery of a quality product, which I have found to be effective at Centrix Financial. Understand your products and services. Turn your products and services inside out. Examine them from every angle. Know what makes your products and services unique and understand their most marketable strength. Become an expert on your competition. Understand why people buy your products and services instead of your competitor's. Share this information with your staff. Then develop key messages about your products and services for all staff to communicate to your market(s). A unified voice makes a more powerful, cost effective message. Understand your market. Understand the need your products and services fulfill and what problems they solve for your members. Know how your members are using your products and services. Recognize any unique requirements of your particular field of membership or sponsor group. Be aware of alternative distribution channels that can help you deliver your products and services. New distribution channels could better serve existing members and help you to get new members. Continuously improve your product. Look forward to what your market will need next. Look for products and services that will help you serve a broader spectrum of your field of membership. Competition, technology and market research will all provide new ideas. However, simply listening to what your members are saying about how they use your products and services could create a whole new product feature and marketing opportunity. It's possible that your members or your sponsor group(s) could provide the input for an entirely new product. Hire the right people. Whenever possible, you should hire sales and service staff who have the technical skills and who know and understand your market. This approach provides a faster track to understanding your products and your markets. The technical expertise and the practical market knowledge make a great combination and a dynamic work environment. Train the people you hire. Do not leave this important step to chance, particularly with your sales and service staff. Establish goals and provide sales and service scripts that have proven to be successful in your market. Make sure your staff understand your product and your market and consistently uses the appropriate key messages. Be responsive. Being responsive to the needs of your market creates a level of trust that supports future growth. This is particularly true if you are entering a new market or introducing a new product to an established market. The responsive organization with a good product is successful because people feel confident committing their business to you. They will also feel comfortable recommending your products and services to a friend or family member. Create strategic alliances. Whenever possible, create strategic alliances with parties or organizations already established within your market. In some cases, these alliances add credibility to your product. They could also provide additional delivery methods that help you reach more of your existing and potential members or, they could provide additional products that help you serve more of your market. A good measure for evaluating these alliances is whether or not they support the goals of the organization. Use the current economic environment. Economic factors can change the way your members view and use the credit union. Be aware of alternatives within your credit union or in the marketplace that allow the credit union to continue serving members if their financial condition changes. A shift in the economy most certainly changes the way you position your products. Economic shifts also change the needs of your organization such as the current economic environment which is naturally producing additional savings deposits and lower demand for loans. When the above market driven elements are combined with a strong marketing program, your efforts will have a greater degree of success at the retail level. Having these elements in place makes it easier for the marketing efforts to more accurately hit the target. Our fictitious party becomes a success because the people who respond know they have come to the right party. The message of the invitation is clear and meets a market need. Marketing is an integral part of any organization because it carries forth the final consistent message to the market. Whether the message is carried by the sales and service staff, or sent by fax, e-mail, direct mail, Web site or advertising and public relations, a unified voice will more effectively sell your product. This is even more important in an economic environment that will force most marketers to stretch their budgets to the maximum. Is marketing important to the delivery of your products? I say most definitely. If you're not marketing your products and services, you are indirectly giving your competition market share. With the great value that credit unions have to offer through membership you owe it to your members and potential members to invite them to the party. And, if you want your party to survive past the appetizers, you had better send an interesting invitation, serve a great meal, a wonderful dessert and maybe dish up a few unexpected surprises. Your members will want to come back for more.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical information including comprehensive product and service provider listings via the Marketplace Directory, CU Careers, resources from industry leaders, webcasts, and breaking news, analysis and more with our informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and CU Times events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.