Tactics from a nail-biter merger that every bank marketer can use

Yvonne Garand faced an unusual challenge in the annals of merger communications. Here’s how the chief marketing officer at a Vermont credit union helped her team develop a winning strategy — with their experience offering useful insight for any financial institution facing a challenge where the communications strategy is a make-or-break factor. It’s a story about the importance of understanding the target audience, the power of segmentation and targeted messaging, and the willingness to pivot as needed.

As in many get-out-the-vote campaigns, the focus was on a small group deemed likely to decide the outcome. But the voters in this case were not picking a political candidate.

They were deciding whether to approve a merger of Vermont’s two largest credit unions.

The deal, proposed in early 2022, sought to unite Vermont State Employees Credit Union in Burlington and New England Federal Credit Union in Williston. But it was unexpectedly controversial, drawing fierce opposition from former leaders of VSECU, who took their case to local newspapers and online media outlets.

VSECU members ultimately approved the merger in November 2022. But the margin was slim: 318 votes out of nearly 15,000 cast.


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