There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has changed so much about the credit union industry and how we serve members. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed: our purpose to serve members during the good times and through the hard times.
We’ve seen a huge shift in marketing sentiment since the US outbreak began and, now that “the great reopening” has started, it is clear how credit unions can pivot their marketing, brand, and member experience to shine in this post-COVID environment:
- Rework tactical plans. If there is one lesson we’ve seen from previous economic downturns, it’s not to take your foot off the gas when it comes to marketing and promotion. It’s important to keep in front of your members so they know you are working hard to stay on top of their needs. After all, that is what builds brand trust and loyalty. From a marketing standpoint, this means evaluating your pre-COVID tactical plan to identify areas that need adjustment, including budget. Tactics that are working for financial services providers and other brands include:
- Direct mail (yes, snail mail!) Postcards are also super cheap, especially if the quantity is higher, and can be a great way to increase loan volume when most credit unions are seeing a large decrease in loans.
- Digital marketing. Now that consumers are home a lot more, purchases and business decisions are happening online. If you aren’t taking advantage of cost-effective digital solutions, such as SEO/SEM, pay-per-click, inbound content marketing, and social media advertising, you are likely missing out on your members’ business.
- Video marketing and education. Because members are online more, consuming even more information than before, presenting your credit union and its services, marketing campaigns, and/or financial education resources has to be done in ways that are appealing and easy to digest. Video marketing is a great way to showcase your credit union’s culture, differentiate yourself from competitors, and increase brand awareness.
- Transition marketing messaging. Low rates have historically been the biggest pull to attract members for loans, but with the huge increase in time spent online, the number of financial services providers jockeying for your members’ business has never been greater. Cut through the noise with clear, empathetic messaging to show them that your credit union has been there for over XX years serving them through the good times and bad. After all, credit unions are the heroes of the financial services world. Why not take the opportunity to show them how you’ve kept that promise, especially over the last few months. Additionally, calls to action need to be focused towards driving the business to online channels to take action on any marketing campaign. Don’t forget about the messaging per product as well. For example, people aren’t traveling much (and likely won’t be much for the foreseeable future) so traditional marketing around personal loans, credit cards, and home equity loans being used for summer vacations could be transitioned to messaging around “staycations” or doing things to their home.
- Focus on your brand. Brands are continually evolving and a global pandemic doesn’t change that. Just as you transition your marketing message to show how you’ve helped members and your community/SEGs, etc. during this time, how your credit union has responded to this crisis and stepped up to meet member needs also has to be factored into the way your credit union presents its brand to the world.
- Don’t forget about employees. As essential businesses, even though lobbies were closed, your employees were still on the front lines fielding calls, taking loan applications, and doing everything needed so the credit union could continue to serve members during this interesting time. Be sure to include them in your marketing plans going forward so they know what to expect, but also take this opportunity to build closer relationships with them. Build a fun plan to foster camaraderie and decrease their stress levels once your credit union is fully open again. Having things like pizza parties, email quizzes for prizes, etc. are a great and inexpensive way to show your greatest assets just how much they mean to you. Additionally, as this pandemic has brought a significant increase in anxiety, depression, and mental health issues, also let them know you are here for them and you are a safe space for sharing if they are experiencing difficulties and need help.
- Evaluate and update your member experience. Sneeze guards, floor stickers, and face masks aside, the aim is to continue to have a wonderful member experience. Make sure your team is looking at this “new” way of serving members to identify ways to surprise and delight members while also using the important opportunity to uncover ways you can serve their individual financial needs.
- Modify your current products and service delivery. Unfortunately, most people think we will never be going back to “the old way” of doing things before COVID-19 happened. This means credit unions will need to look at their delivery of every product and service to ensure that it is in line with not only safety guidelines but also delivers the member experience you wish to provide. For example:
- How were members primarily applying for and getting loans before? Did we allow them the opportunity to apply online from the comfort of their home? Do we offer e-signatures so they can sign for their loan from home as well?
- Do we need to take the opportunity to share that we have e-statements and other mobile/online services to make banking quicker and safer for members?
- How are we delivering important account documents and is there an opportunity for us to utilize email or other forms of electronic delivery for safety?
Don’t let the doom and gloom of the economic news around COVID scare you. Being the heroes of the financial services world, now is the time for credit unions to don their capes, adjust their marketing plans, and do what they do best … help members in all walks of life.