Credit Unions Need to Stop Talking About Their Silverware

Josh Allison, CUDE, Founder and Chief Ideator, Think Cafe Consulting

It’s not just about our products and services. But that’s what we plaster all over our web banners and advertisements.


It’s like owning a restaurant, but instead of talking about your menu specialties, your delicious dinners, your handcrafted unique recipes, you chose instead to tell me you have free silverware and napkins (i.e., “free bill pay” or “free checking”).


We already expect those things. If you didn’t have them, we wouldn’t dine with you in the first place. We’d get up and leave. Bank of America threatened to charge for the use of their silverware and napkins. Diners left.

But that’s what we do in credit unions. We focus too much on talking about all the things that consumers already expect us to have – free checking, bill pay, competitive rates and service.

Move beyond that.

Talk less about your free checking, your bill pay, and your auto loan rates. They’re not unique. The bank (well, except for some of the big banks) and the other credit union down the road offer virtually the same things you do.

So talk to us about your menu. Your meal. What you serve. How you make it. Your fresh and different ingredients. And give us a dining experience worth talking about…
The experience and the handcrafted meal only you create is what we’re after. Again, the silverware is a given.

The problem?

A lot of us aren’t sure about our meal, menu and dining experience. So we see other credit unions toting commoditized silverware proclamations and we join them in the uninspiring cause. And we’re left racing to the bottom of the price-point rat race, tripping over each other to offer the latest product, service or rate hoping consumers will care enough to switch.

Yes, we’ve got to talk about products and services. But if that’s where most of our member conversations start and end, I’d say that’s a pretty uninspiring value proposition. The next time you start crafting an advertisement or marketing campaign, ask yourself, are we all about silverware, or the meal and experience.

Josh Allison is the founder and Chief Ideator for Think Café, a CU consulting company committed to authenticity and relevance. He is a passionate public speaker and has been invited to present on a number of topics related to youth outreach, relationship management and cu philosophy. His youth and business development programs have garnered national awards and recognitions, and he has been cited in the CU Times and multiple cu blogs for his innovation and ideas.

Josh Allison

Josh Allison

Josh Allison is the founder and Chief Ideator for Think Café and a Senior Consultant for FI-Strategies, LLC. He has spoken and worked with organizations from Hawaii to New York ... Web: Details