Tools Continue Evolving in 2004 as CUs Vie for Members' Hearts and Wallets
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Credit union marketing used to basically involve colorful brochures, the occasional ad and maybe a booth at a festival. "When I started in the industry more than 15 years ago, marketing was more about the writing, creative and design aspects than anything else," says Suzanne McCann, vice...
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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Credit union marketing used to basically involve colorful brochures, the occasional ad and maybe a booth at a festival. “When I started in the industry more than 15 years ago, marketing was more about the writing, creative and design aspects than anything else,” says Suzanne McCann, vice president of operations at $140 million CME Federal Credit Union in Columbus, Ohio. “Now marketing is so much more complex. Today’s technology allows credit union marketers to get the right message to the right member at the right time through the right channel,” McCann says. She particularly cites the power of data mining tools, such as MCIF software and says that credit unions that haven’t invested in such technology “need to.” Indeed, “technology has made credit union marketing more of a science and less of an art,” observes Mary Olson, vice president of marketing and business development at $2.5 billion Delta Employees Credit Union in Atlanta. That science includes growing use of sophisticated authentication and Web-based business intelligence tools that can help credit unions improve internal operations and member service, says Stephanie Shah, vice president of marketing and product management at Harland Financial Solutions, a California-based provider of core technology to about 675 credit unions. In 2004, “the use of one-to-one marketing using wireless delivery will become more prominent,” Shah predicts. She also expects wider use of biometrics to allow voice recognition and other authentication technologies via the telephone that enable such transactions as lending, name and address recognition, and improvements in text-to-speech and speaker verification technologies. She also sees the rapid development of Web-based, real-time analysis tools that allow credit unions to precisely monitor and understand member transactions and behavior. On the member-facing side, here’s a partial list of what $325 million Dupaco Community Credit Union uses to woo and serve members in Dubuque, Iowa: MCIF, CRM, online bill pay, online banking, e-statements and account alerts, instant online loans and check imaging. “There are more products to market and many more ways to do it,” says Mike Weber, Dupaco’s vice president of marketing and public relations. “But to effectively reach consumers, marketers must be able to effectively utilize the numerous channels that are now available – e-mail, Web site, ATMs, television, radio, billboard, lobby, and so on.” Suzanne Moore would agree. “By using the technology that is available to us today, we can be more efficient and effective marketers,” says the marketing director at $185 million Dover-Phila Credit Union in New Philadelphia, Ohio. “Ultimately, though, marketers must understand the market they are in and know who their members are, and that requires a great deal of common sense,” Moore says. “All the technology in the world cannot replace knowledge of your marketplace.” Moore knows her market. She’s been her CU’s marketing director for 12 years and is a native of the rural, small town community it serves. But she’s also had to learn some new tricks while Dover-Phila CU adopted the 7/24 service channels its members expect. “These changes have prompted me as the marketing director to learn, understand and use technology that I had no prior introduction to,” Moore says. “Generation X’ers we’ve hired over the past several years are very comfortable and knowledgeable about these advances, but they can be a challenge to me, a Baby Boomer!” Targeting More Than Profits Moore also notes that a lot of her credit union’s electronic convenience offerings could be profit centers for banks but not for her credit union. That’s typical of many credit unions, including $120 million Hawthorne Credit Union in Naperville, Ill., where “I don’t think we’ve been able to differentiate ourselves with technology. It’s too expensive. We rely on member service,” says Sandy Brillowski, the CU’s vice president of marketing. And on deploying technology with precision. Brillowski says she uses Raddon’s Integrator MCIF system and Microsoft MapPoint to “identify members living in a three-mile radius of our branch, and that is my target for checking accounts.” Another example of using technology strategically comes from $400 million SAFE Federal Credit Union in Sumter, S.C. “To encourage more use of electronic transactions, particularly online, we introduced a new program called eMember. eMembers agree to complete their transactions electronically and receive benefits such as bill pay free,” says Joye Cox, the credit union’s vice president of marketing. Her expectations for 2004? “We will continue to educate and inform members about the ease and convenience of electronic transactions,” Cox says. “I also see continued education on identity theft so members can protect themselves from this crime.” The emphasis on educating members is music to Greg Hurley’s ears. He’s vice president of online services at CommonBond Communications Inc. in Albuquerque, N.M., which provides marketing, consumer education and Web site services to more than 800 credit unions in the United States and Canada. “At CommonBond, we’re seeing an increase in the interest in online youth programs, which are relatively inexpensive and can reach specific age groups,” he says. “We’re also seeing an emerging desire for electronic newsletters, which can be created and sent to members in significantly less time and with less expense than traditional paper newsletters.” Using all those tools effectively also involves the human factor. Weber at Dupaco observes that the emergence of technology has “created a pressing need to work closely with other managers, specifically those in information systems and data processing.” Olson also notes that need and says it’s being met at DECU through marketing technology that both targets member service and internal needs. “Our marketing efforts are certainly more targeted now. We can meet specific profiles for particular products, and market directly to them instead of the old `shotgun’ approach,” says the DECU vice president who also chairs the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council. “Internally, we have a lot more credibility with our financial and product management colleagues because we can provide specific reports and results,” Olson says. -
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