Being a marketing consultant in the credit union industry for many years, I’ve talked with countless credit unions about their vision for future marketing success. They interview us to evaluate whether TwoScore is a good fit, and we find the window through which we look at an extremely vital part of a credit union and its potential for future success: its culture.
A well-executed marketing strategy is an essential element in your credit union’s business plan, but it isn’t the only thing you need in place to ensure long-term success. As we have seen with many industries over the past decade or longer, companies are focusing on their cultures and their brand experiences as the connecting point with members and potential members.
While a great rate or a snazzy promotion might bring them in the door for that loan or checking account, what will keep them loyal to your organization is your culture and how it is expressed through your brand experience. So how does a company do that? Here are some steps to help you along the way to bringing your culture to life:
- Find your why. Your credit union may grant loans and open savings accounts, but why do you offer those services? How are you making a difference in the lives of your members?
- Define your brand elements. Has your mission statement been sitting in a binder somewhere? Is it too long for your employees to memorize? Is it relevant? Having clearly-defined brand elements (vision, mission, brand values and brand promise) are the essence of your credit union’s personality because they inform everything you do as an organization. Put them front and center for everyone to see every day. Just like looking at your goals every day is the key to success, so is having culture elements in front of everyone for it to truly become the vehicle of your credit union’s growth.
- Develop a unique brand experience based on your brand values. This will be what differentiates your credit union because it is through your brand experience that you get the opportunity to truly connect with your members and potential members.
- Hire (and fire) based on employees who live out (or don’t) your brand promise. Your employees are the most important asset of your culture and they have the critical job of forming relationships with members and delivering the brand experience.
- Share the credit union’s goals and progress on them. Additionally, share member successes and stories. Emotion is just as powerful for your employees as it is your members. An emotional tie takes a “cross sell” opportunity to a “helpful suggestion” in the eyes of front-line staff.
At the end of the day, credit unions are life changers. To us, it’s a loan or an account, but to members it is a new home, a car to drive to work or a way to get out of debt to save money. Your culture is the leader of your marketing efforts and driver of long-term marketing success.