I’ve heard it time and time again from credit union CEOs across the country: “If only people knew how great we were, they’d ALL be knocking on our doors ready to join.”
It’s a well-intentioned dream from leaders who care so deeply about the mission of their work and the experience delivered by their employees, they wish everyone in their credit union’s field of membership knew about the well-kept secret that is their institution. That dream only grows when they imagine the impacts of their organization – a thriving local community experiencing financial freedom with a trusted partner by their side.
While the desire to make a difference is crucial in leading an organization and brand awareness is a marketing objective your credit union should ABSOLUTELY have, neither you nor your credit union is failing if people decide not to join. Here’s why it’s actually a good thing:
- Competition is healthy. Economies work best when people have options, and *deep breath* yes, that means banks. There are some people for which a small local bank or big chain will best serve their financial and/or personal needs. Having other institutions in your local area helps keep our rates, products, and service delivery in check. You’re forced to be better than the institution down the street by its very existence, and it’s that competition that allows you to offer a better experience for the people who choose it.
- You won’t be everything to everyone. There will always be people who don’t choose you because you don’t offer the technology they need, the location they want, or even the service experience they prefer. That’s because your credit union can’t be all things to all people. What it CAN be is the absolute best choice for members that have chosen to bank there. Attracting those that are a good fit means they will build a stronger relationship with the credit union. They’ll turn to you first for their financial needs and do more with you. And because you’re exceeding their expectations, they’ll be more likely to sing your praises to their friends and family; “birds of a feather flock together,” meaning your member referrals will likely be a good fit, too.
- More isn’t always better. Our culture often equates more with better. But when you start collecting members just for the bragging rights of having more, you may forget to ask the question: “what is the quality of the members we’re attracting?” The reason a member chooses you often lends insight to how they might leave; if someone came in just for that $250 with a new membership offer and you didn’t create an opportunity to tell them what other value membership would bring them, they’ll likely choose another financial institution for a bigger, better offer. When all you want is to take in anybody, they’ll leave you for anybody.
The next time you start envisioning a utopia where your entire town or county chooses your credit union, ask yourself if that grass is really greener. As we head into strategic planning season, take the necessary step of getting staff and board aligned with the best target market for your organization and start dreaming about how you can best serve them and improve their financial lives.