How your CU marketing can respond to the coronavirus

Crisis is never an easy thing to manage, and knowing how to address concerns as a business is a real skill. This cold and flu season has brought with it a virus that is proving to have a widespread impact. While the biggest concerns are for health, the effects also cover many other facets of our lives as employees are asked to work from home, schools are temporarily shut down, travel plans and events are cancelled, the stock market responds, and more.

During a time of fear and uncertainty, members are searching for information and solutions to help them weather the current storm. This gives credit unions the chance to show they are putting members first, something we regularly tout as a pillar of our business. It’s time to plan your communication strategy and adjust your marketing plan.

Maintain a Consistent Message

Having a consistent external message starts by having a strong internal message. Your staff members are going to be the people fielding questions, so keep them up-to-date on the credit union’s actions and position. Are you planning on limiting hours or otherwise adjusting operations? What are you doing to keep staff healthy and safe and how does that have an impact on members’ safety? Staff and members alike will be happy to know about efforts like increased cleaning of shared space and surfaces or additional supplies for washing hands.

Because we are dealing with people’s finances and their access to their money, having information readily available will set minds at ease and show that you are thinking about everyone’s well-being. Keep your content fact-based to avoid fueling fears while using a straight-forward and respectful tone. Use your branches, call centers, website and social media channels to make information readily available for anyone looking for updates. 

Have events coming up, like your annual member meeting? Make sure the latest information is posted with regular updates on the status of the event and what precautions are being taken. If you’ve been considering shifting more of your events and info sessions to the digital world, this could be the time to take the leap with a webinar or a live social media stream. Members and staff are sure to appreciate being able to continue receiving services, but in a safer way.

Educate Members on Other Ways to Do Business 

While members are changing their regular routines, this can be a good time to make sure they know all of their options. Particularly for members who are in a higher-risk group for the virus, provide education on your online, mobile, text and audio banking functions. 

Staff can help members get set up with these services and even automate activities like bill pay or money transfers. Make sure your staff are ready and able to seamlessly help members set up, and make the most of, your remote services. Then, the member can choose when and if they want to continue using face-to-face options down the road.

Adjust Your Calendar

Spring might be the time you usually talk about home loans or getting a new credit card in time for spring break travel. Take another look at your calendar and see where you need to make some edits. What may have seemed relevant and timely may now appear tone-deaf and insensitive. Your originally-planned travel campaign will also be less effective as members ditch their plans and stay home. 

Instead, shuffle a bit so you’re not staying stagnant. Look at the goals you have for the year to choose activities that will support your objectives and are aligned with our instincts to hunker down for the immediate future. If you’re trying to build deposits, this could be a great time to talk more about strategies for saving and building wealth. 

Just as with any other major event, what additional support or concessions can you offer your specific membership group? Right now, coronavirus is top of mind, but there are plenty of other instances where major events deeply affect a significant group of members: large business closures or layoffs, natural disasters, government shutdown. We can leverage our ability to nimbly respond as a local financial institution in order to be a source of support for any crisis. 

If you already have a skip-a-pay program, this is a great time to remind members who are experiencing a reduction in income. Are there other concessions you can offer members who are affected more strongly by either the economic changes or illness? On the positive side, where can you proactively provide resources or support? You can help members and staff by stocking up on hand sanitizers and soap for your branches. But also look at your community and business partners to see where there are needs that you could help meet.

We have yet to see the full scope of the coronavirus’ impact. Be a source of support and strength for your staff and members by identifying how you will communicate and what needs to change in your marketing calendar so you have an updated plan.

Jennifer Laud

Jennifer Laud

Jennifer is a credit union marketing consultant and the owner of Jennifer Laud Consulting. She has a background in strategy and a passion for positioning credit unions to find their ... Web: Details