Simply stated, members are no longer a given-just because you build a branch or offer the next great product does not mean they will come to your credit union and use your products. How do you find and keep members in a business environment that offers consumers so many choices? Only through a well-developed and implemented marketing strategy. Marketing strategy is not just advertising or pricing. It is solving people’s problems with products and services for a profit. It certainly involves advertising, sales and pricing. But it also involves research, product development, business development, channel management, promotions, public relations and much more to generate revenue for your credit union. Why should credit unions, not-for-profits, care about generating revenue? Members expect their credit unions to pay good dividends and offer the best loan rates. To do this, credit unions have to generate revenue-the very purpose of marketing strategy. Marketing strategy is producing and effectively delivering products and services that are valued by distinct groups of members. All successful marketing strategies begin and end with the member in mind. Developing a successful marketing strategy begins with segmentation. There are literally thousands of ways we can divide members into subsets, or segments. Grouping similar groups of members together and approaching them with tailored offerings is essential to effective deployment of resources. First, you must determine if your credit union is a business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) retailer. In many cases, credit unions are both B2B and B2C. Credit unions work with select employee groups (SEGs) in a B2B environment. Here, credit unions are marketing to other businesses that will ultimately offer credit union products to employees. Ways to segment these markets include segmentation by industry, number of employees or location of the business. In a B2C environment, credit unions are marketing directly to the member. Some of the more popular segmentation techniques use demographic variables, such as age and income, or usage patterns, such as light, medium and heavy user. More advanced segmentation may include psychographic variables, such as life stage, hobbies or preferences. Once you have segmented your membership, you must select your targets-where should you concentrate your resources? The key to targeting is profitability. A good place to start is with the credit union’s existing membership. Identify and profile the profitable members, those who have the best relationship with the credit union. Survey the profitable members to determine why they bring their business to the credit union and use this information to advertise to targets with similar profiles. No single list on the Web or book in the library will give the most profitable targets for our specific situation, but there are a number of different ways to find your most profitable segments. Now that you have chosen your target audiences, you have to decide how you will position your credit union. Positioning is a direct link between product or service attributes and member needs. Positioning is your differentiating value proposition; it is why consumers choose a credit union versus a bank. Consumers are bombarded with choices, and most of the time there is very little real difference between the options. The difference lies in the consumer’s perception-where the company has positioned itself in the consumer’s mind. The same is true for credit unions. Our members have lots of options in financial services, but they have chosen the credit union because they perceive value. Value may be the service they receive, the great products or the convenient locations. Whatever it is that makes members use the credit union is what the credit union should be touting as its position in the marketplace. To determine the credit union’s positioning, start by answering these questions: How is the credit union different from its competitors?; What do we want members to say about the credit union?; What is the one thing we do best? Out of all the elements in marketing strategy, targeting and positioning are the most critical. If you can nail the targeting and positioning (especially the positioning), everything else falls into place. If you don’t know how your product or service is different/more valuable than your competitors’. how will your employees know?.how will your members and potential members know? Effective positioning has to begin with senior management and the board of directors and flow consistently throughout the organization. To generate revenue in today’s competitive environment, we have to produce the right product for the right member at the right time and place for the right price-this is marketing strategy.

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