ORLANDO, Fla. – Credit union marketers were told here their cause as working for a nonprofit alternative may be worthy and noble, but “you can’t act like victims and moan about the limitations you face” because with that attitude you become easy prey to banks. The warning came from a San Diego consultant and former college business professor, Kevin Freiberg, who told CUNA’s annual Marketing & Business Development Conference that the industry must unite “with one voice” to protect its mission. While CUs may save members “on average $290 a year in fees or $100,000 over the lifetime,” the competitive environment is “a David and Goliath world,” said Freiberg, a keynote speaker at the conference. “You must learn from each other and unify” because bankers “will eat you alive” if the industry fails to act, warned Freiberg. In his speech, Freiberg also said that “a brand is not an advertisement, logo or spin, but it is a promise of a pending experience.” The banking industry, he said, “is going to figure out how to deliver hospitality and personalized service and so that means CUs are going to have to keep learning and growing if they are going to own the reputation for `personalized, customized service,’” he concluded. He said today’s environment is marked by a “sea of sameness” which begs the question: What makes you unforgettable? He suggested such things as helping a member develop a financial plan, a monthly newsletter offering financial tips, notary assistance in selling a car or free use of a conference room. “Maybe it’s wine tasting for adults or fresh baked cookies every afternoon,” he said. Or maybe it is cutting the interest on a loan if the CU fails to meet the member’s closing date on a loan. Whatever the case, CUs have to carve out a special niche to survive, he said. -

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