by: Robbie Thompson, President/CEO, Credit Union Association of the Dakotas
Over the last six week I have been traveling in North Dakota with CUontheRoad and the We’ve Been Waiting For You awareness effort. We’ve visited more than ten communities, been to more than 30 credit unions, and held or attended about a half dozen community events. Over the next three months, we have more than twenty events we are hosting or scheduled to be at – with many more planned over next three years.
This campaign combines local radio and television advertising utilizing member testimonials, as well as a robust social media effort (you can follow us on twitter @CUontheRoadDAK or on Facebook), but the real meat of the campaign is the live, local community events. That’s where we get a chance to talk one-on-one with credit union members and non-members. We’re at the coffee shops, in the community centers, and at town fairs and celebrations – having face-to-face conversations about credit unions. Besides being able to talk to them about credit unions we are able to listen to what people are telling us.
So here are three things we have learned or heard frequently and a big question each leads too. I would love for you to respond to me with your thoughts on one or more of these questions. Tweet me @cuadceo and use the hashtag #BigCUQuestions. Or email me at email@example.com. I’ll publish some of the best responses in my next CUinsight article.
First, the most alarming, but I guess not surprising, thing so far has been the overall lack of knowledge about credit unions and the credit union difference. If I had a nickel for each time someone has already asked us what is a credit union? And, even those that do know credit union exists, are often unsure of the difference between a credit union and a bank. So how is it that as an industry we have spent millions of dollars over the last 75 plus years trying to educate consumers about credit unions and continue to do so, yet a large percentage of the population still knows so little about credit unions? Can we as collectively really change this and how?
Second, we’ve heard a lot of “I’ve been thinking about going to a credit union but just have not got around to doing it.” People have told us over and over that it’s too much work to switch, I don’t have time, or I just haven’t done it yet. How can we encourage those that are “too busy” or not motivated enough, to actually join a credit union? How can we be there when that “ah-ha” or “now I’m really mad and want to switch” moment happens?
Third, generally those people that are members of a credit union continue to tell us how much they love their credit unions. We’ve heard this from young and old. And, they often rave about the service, especially the friendly, helpful, they know my name type of service. But if people love us so much why are they not doing more to spread that love? We even had a man in Devils Lake North Dakota state that he thinks “credit unions are the wave of the future.” Yet I bet he never told anyone that before me. Why not? How do we find those people that know we are the best choice and get them to enthusiastically and passionately be champions of credit unions?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Robbie Thompson, President/CEO, Credit Union Association of the Dakotas
Thompson is responsible for the management and oversight of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas, and in conjunction with the Board of Directors establishes and achieve the Association’s strategic objectives. Thompson a native of Minneapolis, Minnesota earned degrees in Business and in Economics from the University of Minnesota-Morris, Morris, MN. He also earned a Juris Doctorate degree from William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, MN, and is a licensed attorney. Thompson has spent his entire career in the financial services industry. He started his credit union career as a compliance attorney with the Minnesota Credit Union Network where he advised credit unions on legal, compliance and regulatory requirements and advocated for credit unions on regulatory issues. Thompson also was General Counsel and Vice President of League Services for the New Jersey Credit Union League, where he oversaw the education, non-profit foundation, compliance and legal areas for the Hightstown based state trade association. www.cuad.coop