Design thinking: The biggest opportunity for credit union marketers

Design thinking is a somewhat new trend that marketers are using as a way to build designs and campaigns with the most important thing always at the top of their minds: the user.

Design thinking has five stages to work through: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. Each stage is an opportunity for the marketer to solve problems by understanding human needs. Design thinking goes beyond advertising; it challenges marketers (and others) to think about the human benefit. It allows marketing teams to gain an understanding of their audience and to reach them in a more meaningful way which ultimately means better results.

The first step of the design thinking process is to empathize. As a credit union marketer, you’re often asked to bring in more loans or more deposits but there are so many layers and challenges to this. How do you create a unique campaign to stand out? How can you help your credit union’s financial well-being, and ultimately help your members and communities with an auto loan campaign? This part of the process is the most important part in my opinion because this is where we define our “why.” This stage involves consulting and seeking an understanding of the issues and/or problems and how the product or service you’re marketing can solve them. This goes deeper than positioning; this is a critical step that marketers often forget so make sure you spend some time here.

The next stage is to define. Instead of thinking of the problem this way, “We need to increase our auto loan portfolio by 15%” think of it as, “We need to help people save money to be a more financially stable community.” When you shift your thinking from your company’s financial bottom line to the member’s financial bottom line you’re better able to define the problem you’re trying to solve which allows you to create a more meaningful end product.

In the ideate stage, you work as a team to identify solutions to the problem statement. This is the brainstorming time and it’s my favorite! Really challenge yourself here. Start with the worst idea you could think of, or pretend a budget doesn’t exist. There are plenty of things that will naturally whittle your ideas down so start big and whittle from there, rather than starting small and whittling further.

Next up is where you’ll prototype your concepts and ideas. This is where the ideas become reality. Create multiple variations of your ideas to see what resonates with stakeholders and what doesn’t.

Finally, test your ideas out! Build out an A/B test for your social media posts, emails, keyword campaigns, landing pages, etc. And then do something with those tests: seek to find out what worked best and why and then move forward again!

Try this with your next marketing campaign and let me know how it goes!

Jen McFadden

Jen McFadden

Jen McFadden is the Director of Marketing at She crafts CUInsight’s marketing strategy and oversees brand identity, campaigns, and other marketing efforts. She began her credit union ... Web: Details