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WASHINGTON – In order to better compete with “the big boys,” credit unions need to better focus their marketing and provide something different to attract business business. “Credit unions have an opportunity that is unique. However, efforts by credit unions miss the mark completely and that’s a shame,” Entrepreneurial America, Inc. Director Lon Goforth said. He said that the mass mailings offering free membership-he’s received three mailings himself recently-do not work. Because credit unions typically do not have the funds for radio or television advertising, they need to do something different. Entrepreneurial America, Inc. is a business Goforth and others formed in 1990 to assist small business in a variety of ways, but has also led to helping several large companies like IBM and Citibank, get inside the heads of small business owners. And why not? According to Goforth there is approximately $140 billion in small business lending opportunities out there in businesses under $10 million in sales alone. Goforth explained that Bank of America recently did a study and found that one of the most important things to the small business owner is the ability to obtain advice. He said credit unions could use this as a tool to grab the attention-and business-of small business owners. Entrepreneurial America, Inc. has developed an online resource center, which includes an ask the experts panel, where small businesses can ask questions on any subject and get an answer back in less than a couple of hours. This business information site can be tacked onto a credit union’s own site so the small business owner does not know the credit union itself is not providing the answers. In addition, credit unions can obtain daily intelligence on how many small business owners asked what types of questions so marketing efforts can be better focused on what the target audience is interested in rather than `free membership.’ For example, if a lot of questions come through on business vehicle lending, then the marketing piece can be targeted to “hit the hot buttons.” The product has been successful for many businesses, including some banks, and now the company would like to work with the leagues to get it going in credit unions. “I love the underdog. I want to help credit unions.” Goforth explained. “I think credit unions are sincere in their efforts to provide service.” He explained that banks have vast resources to pull from so credit unions need to be unique and “it’s not ridiculously expensive because it’s not labor intensive.” He declined to publicly provide pricing because it varies by the size of the institution and the services employed. If the credit union can help save a small business time or money by providing this service, he stated, they could gain their business and possibly the owner’s personal finances as well. “The small business owner is an incredibly loyal customer,” Goforth said. Think beyond the loan, he advised, because businesses can get a loan anywhere. As a business owner himself, which is by some definitions small, Goforth said, “I would overlook the convenience of [my bank] if my credit union would go to bat for me.” Goforth said he has just begun early discussions with some credit unions and associated organizations. Credit union leagues, associations, and others can request a private invitation to online presentations regarding how the conference center works, view live content, and how the information is collected by e-mailing him at [email protected] “You’ve got to do something different because everything else has been done,” he concluded. [email protected]

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