by: Sharon Simpson, Marketing Consultant, Ongoing Operations
I’m not referring to potential members driving by your nearest branch or even typing in your direct website URL after they’ve received a postcard from you. I’m referring to potential members searching for financial advice, low auto loan rates or even a good place to start their first checking account.
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is surprisingly not something all credit unions are focusing on. At least that’s what I find when I Google key terms that credit unions should own – or at least be listed under. For example searches for “auto loan” or “low auto loan rates” in my community result in a long list of dealerships, bankrate.com, some potentially shady lenders and then in 8th place one of the local credit unions (despite the fact that we have many credit unions nearby offering low auto loan rates).
My husband recently started his own law firm in a new city and my mother (who is in her 70s) asked me if he was advertising in the yellow pages. I chuckled as I wasn’t aware yellow pages were still being printed and told her that virtually all of his clients have found him through online search. That has been his only form of advertising and has proven to be extremely successful – even in a brand new market.
As a former VP of Marketing for a credit union, I’ve learned that we all need to put on our consumer/member hats from time to time as we decide where to focus our resources. “Be where your members are,” was a great piece of advice I received when I first entered the credit union movement.
Today, many potential members are finding the information they need through online searches, asking for referrals through their online networks, and transacting via mobile devices. Traditional channels haven’t gone away, but be sure to put on your consumer hat once in awhile and ask yourself, “are we where our members are looking?”
Sharon Simpson is a national consultant who specializes in developing strategic marketing plans for CUSOs and credit unions. She has over fifteen years of marketing experience in the financial services industry. She previously served as Vice President of Marketing for Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union and as Vice President of Marketing & Administration for Callahan Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of Callahan & Associates, Inc., a leading credit union consulting firm based in Washington, DC. Sharon holds a Master of Arts degree in Political Management from The George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of San Diego. Sharon can be contacted at email@example.com. www.ongoingoperations.com