Credit unions & individual enterprise

A recipe for leading, flourishing, and marketing

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 provided credit unions with a golden messaging opportunity as throngs of people soured on “too big to fail” banks and were searching for alternatives. If ever there was a time to highlight the credit union difference, that was it—and the message has no expiration date.

Honing your organization’s message requires examination, precision, and creativity. Disseminating the message requires innovation, calculation, and consistency. Neither can be done without a commitment to marketing and communications. Unfortunately, those are usually the first areas that get cut when money gets tight.

Well, buckle up. Forecasters are predicting the economy will worsen, which means now is the time to lean on, not abandon, your MarComm team. Hone and leverage your message. The current fiscal downturn is yet another golden opportunity for credit unions to differentiate themselves from other financial institutions, which will help them weather the storm. Do this by walking the walk; i.e., living the credit union mantra “people helping people” through support of individual enterprise.

Give a man a fish, and he’ll have a meal. Teach him to fish, and he’ll have food for the rest of his life.

Like many organizations, credit unions place a premium on being charitable, which is well and good but unlike many organizations, these financial cooperatives have the capacity—and responsibility—to help individuals create wealth. Jason Sorens, Senior Research faculty member for the American Institute for Economic Research, posits, “People lift themselves out of poverty when they are free to trade and to enjoy the fruits of their labors. They remain poor only when they face violent threats to their lives, liberties, and property.”

In a corroborating statement, Michael Matheson Miller of PovertyCure says, “What causes wealth is the creation of institutions and a culture where entrepreneurs are able to rise up and create value, create jobs, and create businesses that meet the needs and wants of others. And that’s what markets are. They’re networks of human relationships, where people get together and solve problems closest to them, so that they can create prosperity that allows them to live lives of dignity.”

Not only does Miller define markets, but he also addresses a key marketing principle: identifying and solving a problem. Credit unions have the opportunity to do this with their members daily.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution is so cherished because it protects citizens’ freedom to worship, assemble, and petition. Freedom of association enabled the credit union movement to flourish. What better way to pay it forward than by leading the proliferation and protection of freedom of association, which is constantly under attack.

The point is, if your credit union or association truly wants to better the lives of those in need, especially during tumultuous economic times, proactively engage the community in a meaningful way. Your efforts will simultaneously benefit the community you serve as well as your organization. Then, use your aligned mission, message, and marketing to spread the word.

Lorraine Ranalli

Lorraine Ranalli

Lorraine Ranalli is Chief Storyteller & Communications Director, as well as published author. Her most recent work, Impact: Deliver Effective, Meaningful, and Memorable Presentations, is a pocket book of public ... Web: Details