Sharing the best kept secret in the community

Working in the credit union industry (movement) over the past 40 years has been the most satisfying career anyone could choose. Engaging in the national and international “people helping people” philosophy of the credit union space has been a most rewarding experience. Credit unions continue to prove their value since enacted in the 1930s, despite years of constantly changing economic, competitive, and social global conditions.

Despite all of the goodness of our movement, I still cannot help but feel that at times credit unions are the best kept secret in the financial services industry.

Our credit unions have a ways to go in terms of capturing optimum market and wallet share of consumer’s business in our fields of membership. And with the average age of credit union members being 53 years of age in 2024, it is imperative that our credit unions focus on cultivating and bringing in the younger generation who have been reluctant to join our credit union family. Credit unions have to give them reasons why we are a better choice to help manage their financial needs for a lifetime.

One mantra I have been constantly preaching over the years is that credit unions need to tell their story more and keep telling it to their members and non-members on an ongoing basis in the communities they serve.

One method that has been used very effectively for increased community awareness by my Summit Credit Union in Madison, Wisconsin is to stage an event—Summit Fest which has become my credit union’s annual membership meeting and member appreciation event.

This year’s event—held at our local minor league ballpark in May—attracted 3500+ credit union family members/friends/non-members—and was a huge success.

Attendees witnessed annual meeting board reports, food, games, prizes and plenty of interactive opportunities highlighting the benefits and impact of Summit’s services, products, and community outreach initiatives over the years.

Staging a community event is an effective marketing tool for building your credit union’s brand identity and increasing your footprint in the communities you serve.

An event can give your credit union the opportunity to exhibit your values, products, and services in a very unique way that the audience can remember and relate to.

It’s one of the best ways to form stronger relationships with members (and potential members) and keep them coming back to do business with your credit union.

An active community brand nurtures and celebrates members, making them feel seen and involved. Your credit union’s active brand in the community shows that your members are emotionally invested in you, use your content, and tell their friends and family about you—helping expand your credit union’s business reach in the community.

Engaging in community events can benefit credit union members by building stronger relationships, increased engagement, knowledge sharing, credit union brand visibility and member loyalty.

Keeping members and the community engaged in the credit union’s activities will also go a long way in developing loyalty and increase business results.

In addition, creating a community event is also great way to market and tell the credit union’s “why story” to a vast audience.

Why we do what we do—not what we do for our members (not customers)—is our credit union difference in the financial services marketplace. And this can leave a lasting mark as a growth strategy for your credit union in the communities you serve.

So are you ready to let your credit unions secret out and tell the whole world?

John Vardalas

John Vardalas

John A. Vardalas CAE, CUDE is Founder/CEO of The AmericanBoomeR Group, a Madison, Wisconsin based speaking/consulting firm. He is also a frequent speaker and facilitator of strategic planning ... Web: Details