“Bo, we need marketing help. Can you help us?”
Of course I can, but more often than not when I start digging in with a new client I find that marketing is the last thing needed to jumpstart growth. When we go through our unique in-depth onboarding process and ask a ton of questions, we start finding the real reasons why the credit union isn’t growing. And once we identify those reasons, we can fix those before we spend any money on marketing agencies and campaigns to generate more leads that can’t be converted.
You see, one of the main functions of marketing (and probably why you would hire my team) is to generate more leads to grow membership and grow loans. But when there are things that are holding you back from converting your existing leads into new members and new loans, the last thing you need is to pay someone to help bring you more leads that won’t turn into anything.
If you’re struggling with trying to understand why your marketing isn’t as successful as it should be, you’re not alone. In fact a study suggested that American businesses lose over $550 billion every year to poor productivity.
Here are 5 obstacles we commonly identify and help credit unions solve before rolling out their marketing plan:
Your credit union is too reliant on you or key individuals
This comes in so many forms and fashions that it would be hard to give all of the examples in this brief article.
One example is someone on the leadership team other than the CEO running the show. In one case, a credit union CEO was ready to embrace a new lending philosophy. The credit union avoided risk for years, which resulted in 0% delinquency but also very low net income. The CEO knew it was time to open up the faucet, invested in training the staff on loan interviews, underwriting and collections for these new, riskier loans. The Chief Lending Officer, however, didn’t agree with the CEO’s vision and blocked every effort to bring this vision to reality. My team was tasked with bringing in these loan leads, which was a waste of money because these leads were turned down as they had been for the last several years.
Perhaps you’ve set your vision, but one detractor is keeping your vision from becoming reality.
You’re duplicating your efforts
Whether intentionally or not, you may find that you are duplicating efforts for your team. For example entering the same information twice, having the same conversation with different people or sending the same reminder emails chasing overdue tasks on a regular basis.
During the onboarding process with one client several years ago we started mapping their loan process, both member facing and on the back end, and we quickly realized why they were losing loan opportunities. As we mapped the process the sticky notes started hanging off of the white board and onto another wall. The loan application process was very burdensome, for both the member and the staff. Once we identified the redundancies, eliminated unnecessary work and the loan application process, we instantly saw an increase of completed apps, which resulted in more loans.
Detractors may be holding onto old processes either out of fear of change or fear of losing their grip and ownership on a process.
No clear lines of responsibility
Who owns answering that email communication that comes in from your website? Replace “email communication” and “website,” and you can ferret out dozens of small things being overlooked. It could be as innocent as someone thinking another team member has the job covered, or a toxic employee who proudly states, “that’s not my job.” Can you name who is responsible or accountable for the different functions of your credit union? Do they know that they own that responsibility? Assumed responsibility and accountability can cause your processes to stop working effectively.
Without knowing where one person or department’s role ends and the next person or department’s begins, you could cause serious harm to your credit union in lost opportunities, incohesive marketing campaigns and sales efforts, and lost revenue.
Doing things the way they’ve always been done
The easiest way for your credit union to shrivel on the vine is to keep doing what you’ve always been doing. Just like developing your products or services, you need to evaluate how you are delivering your products or services and serving your members.
Why haven’t you changed your processes? It may be one or a combination of the three above. You have a key detractor who is uncomfortable with change, and despite not being the decision maker, it’s easier to just let it go than deal with an employee or leader who won’t come to the table to discuss the change.
“We need to grow our credit union, or we won’t be around in three years,” I heard one board member exclaim. He wasn’t wrong. But what he said a few minutes later shed light on why the credit union wasn’t growing. “No one wants to apply for a loan online, that’s how you get your number stolen.” With an aging membership and loans declining, what brought the credit union to success during the 30+ years this person had been on the board was not how the credit union was going to grow over the next 30+ years.
Ensuring your team (leadership, board and staff) are willing and motivated to challenge the status quo can have a huge impact on your efficiency and growth.
You don’t know what your process looks like
One of the biggest problems with processes is just the lack of process. Giving your team freedom to do the job in the way they see fit can have benefits, but this lack of standard approach also can cause headaches.
If every team member approaches a task in their own way, it leads to an inconsistent member experience, which will lead to a slow leak of opportunities that will add up over time. This is an opportunity to document the processes of your star performers and write up their processes to roll out as standard to the team. Giving your team some freedom can be a good thing, but there must be consistency in how processes and tasks are handled.
It’s easy to throw more money at your credit union’s marketing campaigns or adjust your strategy, but before you do, review the 5 key areas mentioned above to ensure your credit union is functioning optimally. Picture a heater that is working at its finest on the coldest winter day to warm the house, but that heat is escaping through several small cracks in the house, leaving you uncomfortably cold while binging Schitt’s Creek. You can spend money calling out the best HVAC repair company, but they’ll find nothing wrong with the unit and you’ll continue to be cold until you address the real problem.
If you find your credit union with a marketing plan that is delivering leads that just aren’t converting into new members and new loans, you may find it’s time to get some outside perspective to ask questions that will allow you to see your credit union from a different perspective.
At YMC, we have developed a unique, time-tested process we’ve walked many credit unions through that has led to increased growth before we even launch a marketing campaign. 2021 isn’t too far gone for you to peel back the layers of your credit union and start seeing the growth you were hoping to see.