Thinking ahead: Your 2016 roadmap

21 days.

There are only 21 days left in 2015. Even fewer depending on when you’re reading this. Take that in for a moment; we are shockingly close to the end of the calendar year.

Where did the time go? What have I accomplished this year? Am I going to be better next year? The answers to these questions are all relative to each of your scenarios, but all individuals and organizations should aim to be better than last year. We should all strive to come into 2016 “firing on all cylinders,” hitting the ground running,” and any other idioms you can think of for doing well from the start and succeeding.

How each person or company, goes about this is different. Successful techniques are everywhere and differ from business to business, industry to industry. But all businesses have one thing in common for success, and that is efficient budgeting and choosing what to spend their time, money, and effort on.

Your credit union already has the rough idea for the 2016 budget. You know what big investments and expenditures you’re going to make; the massive campaigns that require hundreds of hours or work, time, and effort. If these are in your 2016 calendar already, then that’s great. But what about your smaller, easier options? What about the “quick wins”?

There are a few “smaller” things you can do to help grow your institution without blowing up your budget. I put “smaller” in quotations, because even though they are smaller budgetary-wise when compared to, say, a core conversion or branch expansion, they can provide just as much (if not more) when it comes to growth. And often at a much lower price tag.

So what are some good options for smaller options that could provide you with a great ROI? Let’s go to the list!

  1. Social Media Campaigns

Social media is the most powerful communicative force on the planet.

That is a bold statement and up for debate, but many believe it to be true. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and others like them provide regular people an outlet to voice their opinions, thoughts, concerns, likes, dislikes, and any thought they might have. This constantly growing online community provides you with an outlet that can help build a brand practically overnight, or destroy the reputation of a brand, which means not making some simple mistakes. Creating a good social media presence can pay dividends in the long run.

For example, an credit union could setup a Facebook campaign for a current promotion. By using Facebook’s online ad tools, the institution can specify the demographic down to age range, location, interests, and mutual friends of reached targets. They can then create a post that encourages the users to share the post with friends as a way to enter a contest and win a prize. By putting a small amount of money into the campaign, the message gets to initial targets and is then shared to their friends.

Instituting campaigns to appeal to your members is relatively easy and can be very rewarding. Launching social media campaigns like contests for your fans to post pictures, stories, or share pages can help grow your presence. On top of that, social media is arguably the least expensive platform out there. If you’re just getting started, check out “8 Social Media Pitfalls & Opportunities for Financial Institutions.”

  1. Invest In Your Culture

Something too often overlooked on budget plans is reinvesting in yourself by working on improving the lives of your employees. Think about the companies that frequently rank among the best places to work. What do they have in common? They are all very successful, and they attract the best and brightest job candidates in their field. Google, Amazon, Zappos, etc. All are voted as top places to work and are all highly successful household names, and there’s a connection in these two facts; happy employees work harder.

A study by the University of Warick has found that happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.1 That’s a 22% swing. This study shows that when employees enjoy where they work, they are more productive and that leads to more revenue. Aside from revenue, think of your member service: if that service rep hates their job, they won’t be excited to help your members. Someone who loves going to work is going to love doing their job, and that counts.

By investing in your own people, you are not only investing in better revenue for the future, but you are also investing the happiness and loyalty of your current members, which leads us to…

  1. Reward Your Current Members

The saying goes, “dance with the one that brought you.” It basically means stick with the person, or group, that brought you to success. In the financial world, this is your current members. By finding ways to give back to the people who already do business with you, you are investing in a few things:

  • Retention of current members
  • Building loyalty and engagement
  • Gaining opportunity to cross-sell more products and services
  • Good karma

Now obviously, these are all important things that you definitely want with your members. But how do you reward your members in a way that doesn’t cost you a lot, yet still improves their lives and gives you the return you want? Allow me to throw out a statistic:

“88% of consumers say rewards for banking are a top priority.2

Now when you see a statistic with that kind of overwhelming agreement, it’s worth take notice. If banking rewards are that important in the minds of consumers how can you implement them in a way that works?

The easiest way is to get help. A program with ongoing cardholder engagement requires more bandwidth than most credit unions can spare.

There are a number of third-party rewards providers. Shop around to see which is the best fit for your community. Buzz Points is one such program that rewards your members every single time they use your debit card. The result? On average, 65% more debit card swipes per month than the national average.3 That’s another one of those statistics that make you stop for a moment.

So what does this particular rewards program do that makes it so well liked? Members love the “buy local” sense of community that provides 2X points for buying local. Buzz Points provides ongoing cardholder engagement (the key to 80% of highly successful rewards programs). And credit unions’ ROI is maximized since Buzz Points holds all the point liability. This formula is what a good rewards program looks like.

These are just a few examples of ways you can create a good ROI while only allocating a small amount of your budget towards it. 2016 can be your biggest year yet, and that’s a statement that should be your goal. Shoot for it, strive to achieve it, and do whatever is needed to grow your business…within your budget, of course.


1”Happiness and Productivity,” University of Warwick, 2014

2“Consumers Say More Rewards Is Their Top Priority From Banks,” Wall Street Journal, 2014

3Buzz Points averages, 2014, compared to national swipe and interchange averages from “2014 Debit Issuer Study” commissioned by PULSE

Todd Swoope

Todd Swoope

Todd Swoope is a marketing professional and content creator living in Austin, Texas, who hails from the mountains of Pennsylvania. With Master’s degrees in Communication and Public Relations, Todd ... Web: Details