Driving credit union growth on a shoestring budget

Do more with less. That’s smart business, especially in shaky and uncertain times like we’re in now. But it also takes the ability to be collaborative, creative and think differently. Isn’t that how credit unions were formed to begin with? 

As you begin budgeting for 2021, consider collaborating with other credit unions and outsourcing some functions such as marketing.

Twelve years ago one credit union determined to set out on a path for growth by outsourcing their marketing. Outsourcing allowed them to get an entire team of credit union marketing experts by collaborating with other credit unions and sharing the cost. The only other option was to hire one person on salary and still outsourcing other marketing functions with additional costs.

The rest of the story? More than a decade later that credit union has nearly tripled in asset size and continues to exceed its annual growth goals all while saving more than $8,600 per year for the past 12 years – more than $100,000! – on its strategic marketing following a path to growth and efficiency: outsourced credit union marketing.

Isn’t that a CFO’s dream? Drive growth, spend less, provide more member value. Other credit unions of all sizes are saving between $8,600 and $73,000 a year in salary alone – not including benefits and additional outsourcing costs for graphic design, copywriting and more – by outsourcing their strategic marketing needs.

How do those numbers work? Take for example a $1 billion dollar credit union considering hiring a CMO. They saw an average savings of $73,000 by keeping a marketing coordinator to handle logistics and internal marketing and work with the outsourced marketing team on strategy and execution of member-facing marketing. Or even adding an outsourced marketing engagement to assist the CMO at that same credit union would see an average annual savings of $13,600 multiplied by each position not needed, like social media and more.

Most small and mid-sized credit unions dream of having a CMO, but the budget just doesn’t allow. That doesn’t negate the need for those credit unions to still bring in new members, loans and deposits. Following the cooperative model we were founded on and collaborating with other credit unions to share a team of credit union marketing experts just makes sense.

Cost savings is a great benefit, no doubt. But outsourced strategic marketing for credit unions leads to greater efficiency, brand consistency and, most importantly, innovation. By outsourcing to a team of full-time credit union marketing experts there’s no need to hire additional FTEs for things like graphic design and social media, with brand and messaging getting lost between various vendors. Credit unions that have outsourced their marketing to a firm that works with progressive, like-minded credit unions benefit from a constant flow of collaboration on new ideas that lead to proven above-average growth. 

One of the first steps to developing a strategy that puts your credit union on the path to success is to identify who your credit union serves and who you want to serve. A client of ours, $31.4 million Members CU, determined it wanted to serve the local Hispanic market, which is the fastest-growing minority population in the United States, yet it is also one of the most difficult markets for credit unions to reach. Using Hispanic marketing specialists to provide the strategic and marketing solutions the credit union needed to engage, earn trust and bank Latinos, that credit union was literally saved from merger by increasing its brand awareness, community affinity and member growth in that one community. 

Members CU is already seeing the rewards of its intentional, focused effort to attract members of the local Latino community credit union, according to CEO Kathy Chartier. “Our growth takes a lot of effort and, previously, all the marketing responsibilities for our little credit union fell to me,” she explains. “Now, we are able to leverage Your Marketing Co.’s extensive experience in marketing, and its new program built specifically to reach the Latino market.”

As your credit union begins the budget process for 2021, consider outsourcing your credit union’s strategic marketing function to achieve more with less. Or consider adding an outsourced marketing team to support your existing CMO or vice president of marketing to free up task saturation from their workload and give them the gift of time to focus on your credit union’s growth strategy. Trying new things is uncomfortable, and I recognize your brand is everything, but the good news is dozens of your peers have tested our outsourced marketing and accomplished great work in their communities and strong business results.

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: yourmarketing.co Details