How to market your one thing

You can’t be all things to all people. Niches lead to riches. Clarity, clarity, clarity.

You’ve heard all these things before, but once you pick your “one thing” that makes your credit union different, how do you market it?

First, let’s define “one thing.”

Your “one thing” is what sets your credit union apart. It’s what you’re known for on the streets. It’s what your members can’t live without.  

If you’ve ever wanted to be the Chic-fil-A of credit unions or the Target of banking, then pay attention.

The way Chic-fil-A, Target, and other household name brands achieve such success is by owning their “one thing.”

Note: It’s one thing. Not three. Not ten. Not a fifty-point manifesto that nobody can remember. Just one thing. 

During strategic planning sessions, we often walk teams through an exercise called “The Myth of Excellence.” The Myth of Excellence says that you have to be excellent at everything in order to succeed at anything.

That’s simply not true. 

For example, Target knows it can’t compete with Amazon on data or delivery. Where it can compete, however, is the in-store experience. The retail franchise continues to advance its store strategy and draw more customers into its stores. How many times this month have you made a “Target run” and spent longer in the store than expected just because you want to? 

Target knows what it does well (stores) and chooses to focus on that one thing. 

Here are four key areas where your credit union could choose to excel and how to market it. 


Competing on price means people know they will always get a good rate with your credit union. In order to successfully market price as your “one thing,” you must do these two things:

  1. Avoid the used car salesman approach. If price is your one thing, then don’t be sleezy about it. Walmart, for example, is a brand that dominates the price game. But they do so in a classy way. Low prices are part of their brand reputation. 
  2. Consistently deliver. Speaking of reputation, if you’re going to let price be your thing, then you must deliver. You can’t say you offer the best rates in town if you really don’t. Do your homework and be consistent. 



Warning: this “one thing” is dangerous ground for many credit unions. They think smiling at members who walk through the door equates good service. Not true. Check out this quote from Tara, Chief Operating Officer at UniWyo Federal Credit Union:

“We learned our brand isn’t just our logo. It’s everything we do. And it’s not just a nice smile either. Anyone can do that. But can I save you $500 a month by switching your loan? That’s really service to us.”

UniWyo FCU did two things that led to their amazing success in service:

  1. They defined what service meant to them. If you say that service is a priority for you, then you must define specifically what type of service you mean. For UniWyo, it was meeting members’ actual needs. 
  2. They acted on it. Every UniWyo FCU team member is trained to ask leading questions while interacting with members. These employees listen to the member’s answer and respond with applicable products and services. Why? Because they believe those products and services actually work. 



Speaking of products that work, does your credit union have winning products that truly set your institution apart? Here’s how to market a product as the “one thing” that makes your financial institution better than any other: 

  1. Emphasize the added value to your member. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking our products and services are better than they actually are. A product worthy of being your “one thing,” however, is a product that directly meets actual member needs. 
  2. Focus on the benefits. When making product your “one thing,” be wary of features-heavy writing. Features are (put simply) the boring things like rate and length of term that don’t resonate with members. Benefits, however, are things that will make a member’s life noticeably better. For example, maybe your product will save them time. Promote benefits, not features. 



Experience is how you make a member feel every time they do business with you. Whether through your branches, call center or website, the experience you deliver members must be consistent at every touch point in order for it to be your “one thing.” 

Once you’ve established consistency and are confident your member experience is better than anyone else’s, here’s how to market experience as your “one thing.” 

  1. Testimonials, testimonials, testimonials. Let your members be the ones to tell others how great you are. Word of mouth is the most trusted form of advertising, so their words will carry more weight than yours. Include testimonials on every page of your website, not just one.
  2. Use video. The best way to show the experience you give members is through video. Again, don’t tell them how great you are. Show them. A 15 second video can show what you’d want potential members to know about a visit to your branch. 

Next time you feel pressure to “be the best,” remember you don’t have to be the best at everything. You simply have to own your one thing, and then tell your people about it.

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner helping businesses such as credit unions and banks achieve their goals with strategic marketing insights and energized training. Mark ... Web: Details