For the past two months I have been going on socially distant walks with my neighbor, Shannon Quimby. She is an international salvage DIY luminary, photo stylist for magazines like Better Homes and Gardens, and she’s been on local TV stations via Zoom doing all kinds of DIY segments. It’s been fun cultivating a new friendship with someone who exudes right brain creativity.
One day she was telling me a story about her first childhood yard sale where she sold several of her DIY projects. Afterward her dad walked her up the street to his credit union to open an account. To this day, she still has an annual yard sale to sell her DIY projects and still walks her money to that same credit union. They know her by name.
My first thought? Why aren’t credit unions using her or people like her in their financial wellness programs? More of us need to find our local “Shannons”: Experts in lifestyle choices that promote financial wellness. Maybe to host a session about how to eat organic without breaking the bank? Or a session about creative DIY kid birthday party themes? The list is endless.
I learned this lesson years ago as I walked by the Umpqua Bank branch across the street from where I lived in the Pearl District in downtown Portland, Oregon. Face smashed against the glass; I was in awe of the sheer number of attendees at their financial wellness events. As I walked away, I realized our education sessions at the credit union where I worked had only 10 attendees because the topics were boring. Umpqua’s reputation as “the coolest bank in the West” stems from its creative approach to community and financial wellness.
Since then I’ve been preaching this simple business development call to action about financial wellness education:
Make a connection.
Follow-up and keep the conversation going.
The result is business. We market lifestyle but do we educate lifestyle? Think about all of the things that impact our finances. When I mentioned to Shannon that I was going to reframe five large paintings because the frames were dated, she said “Why not paint them?” I ended up spending 20% of what it would have cost to reframe and they look awesome.
Here are a few things to consider when rethinking your approach to financial wellness education:
- Choose wisely: The presenter matters – a lot. Now that we have transitioned to webinars make sure your internal presenters are trained on virtual delivery. It’s different from face-to-face and requires new skills.
- Review your classes: Take another look at your sessions, their titles and descriptions. Are you addressing common, relatable concerns? Be creative. An Ardent Credit Union session about retirement is titled, Who Needs the Lottery?
- Bring in experts. Find the “Shannons” for a variety of lifestyle topics that impact financial wellness. Another Ardent Credit Union session titled Nutrition for Active Kids, spoke to an ideal target demographic. Centric Federal Credit Union hosts a Women Who WOW event each year and has a panel that includes a mental health expert, a physical health expert, and a financial health expert. Brilliant. Be sure to look internally for your experts as well. United Teletech Financial FCU recently presented a session on Working Moms’ Budget Tips During COVID-19. Three of their well-known working mom employees were on the panel. Members get excited to see their favorite credit union employees.
- Rethink Delivery Channels. Overall employee wellness is top of mind for your SEG contacts. Consider creating a special series for them. Name the series something that feels co-branded. Bring in experts. Make it awesome.
Offering relatable, memorable lifestyle education events creates business development opportunities, attracting members and non-members alike. Let’s jazz it up.