Marketers pivot to lead support for members during coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically shifted the way we do business. Especially for those in marketing and public relations for credit unions. Many of the traditional ways of reaching our members had to be sidelined as the pandemic forced closures, shifts in how we do business and how we provide services to our members and potential members.

But marketers are savvy and if there’s one common quality that all good marketers have, it’s the ability to pivot and refocus efforts to adapt to fluid situations. No more is this true than now.

In the Mountain West region (Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming), and across the nation, marketing professionals immediately began looking for ways to help members, their communities and their internal staffs. To get a better idea of what worked and what things will likely become part of standard operations going forward, we conducted an informal survey of our truly stellar marketing leaders in the region. What we heard was a common theme that members needed sympathy for the immediate financial hardship they were facing. Not only did they need sympathy, but they also needed solutions fast. Last, they needed to receive information from their credit union through as many accessible channels as possible. Proactive communication to tell members what options they had became a lifeline for those struggling to make sense of the ever-changing and challenging hardship.

As state and local economies began to see the immediate impacts of the pandemic and the personal financial hardships as a result, credit unions immediately incorporated flexible programs to assist members including:

  • Loan deferment solutions for Auto, Credit Card, Home Equity and Personal Loans
  • Short-term, Emergency Relief Loan Programs
  • Increased debit/ATM card limits for expedited access to funds
  • Mortgage payment deferments and assistance
  • Fee refunds – waived fees and penalties on many products
  • Debt restructuring to help lower payment, support reduced income, avoid the loss of assets, and help reduce stress
  • Participation in the Paycheck Protection Program, allowing for small businesses to receive immediate assistance through a forgivable loan program
  • Community Outreach – finding unique ways to help in individual communities such as food drives, gift card giveaways, online contests, donations and volunteering

With lobbies closed and access limited, marketers began to rely more significantly on digital marketing including their websites, social media, email blasts, and text alerts. While these tools have become increasingly popular over the years, they were now vital to member communications. Some credit unions even engaged in very traditional activities like calling individual members, especially seniors, to help them adapt to using services like online and mobile banking. With lobbies closed, helping members utilize these services was essential.

While we are far from being completely through the pandemic, marketing teams have adapted and have somewhat settled into what we all call the “new normal.” Digital ads, online content, newsletters, customizing COVID-related content produced by leagues and CUNA, graphics and other materials have helped marketers communicate through the crisis. These months have also proven that especially in a crisis, investing in marketing is a necessary and critical operational priority for all businesses, especially credit unions.

Patti Hazlett

Patti Hazlett

As Director, Public Affairs, Patti provides strategic communications support for the advocacy priorities of GoWest Credit Union Association and its member credit unions. She also helps support relationships with trade ... Web: Details