Inflation at 8.5%. Gas prices well over $4 per gallon. Soaring grocery prices. Stock market on a rollercoaster ride. Baby formula shortage. An insane housing market.
The economy is on everyone’s mind—and not necessarily for good reasons. Credit union and community bank executives must face the fact that it’s entirely possible we are in a slowing economy. Some are even referring to it as the “growing, slowing economy.”
As you examine the second half of the year, what adjustments do you make? Can you grow your financial institution during a slowing economy?
The answer—yes. Absolutely yes. It starts with two proactive steps.
Don’t let fear take over. With all the negative news, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. So stop watching the news and get off social media. Of course, don’t bury your head in the sand. But understand fear can paralyze your thinking. If you think you can’t grow, you won’t grow.
Rather than focusing on your fears, focus on how consumers are feeling. In other words, tap into their stress. Speak into their fears. Everyone is unbelievably stressed. Show empathy. You do that through messaging (see second point below). Show how your credit union or bank is the guide through a stressful time. For example, with soaring gas prices you can do some type of promotion that includes gas card giveaways. Answer the question, “what are our niche targets stressed about?”
As leaders, acknowledge and accept the current economic conditions. Rather than being a “Negative Nellie,” ask, “what does the current economic conditions make possible?”
Remember, you can increase sales by communicating, offering additional products and showing you care. Those are all marketing 101 steps.
Growth (even during hard times) starts with your mind. Set the tone for your credit union or community bank. Look for ways to turn a negative economy for consumers into positive solutions.
Ultimately, it’s all about messaging. What you say and how you say it matters.
The best message you can communicate right now is:
“We are here for you.”
Come alongside your members and customers. If possible, make those efforts tangible. As mentioned above, use gas cards as an incentive. Or maybe do some type of promotion with a local grocery store. Now is a great time to leverage your public relations and community involvement activities.
If you tie your messaging to something around high gas prices, use some creative messaging like “We Tank You For Your Auto Loan,” (giving them a free tank of gas with a new auto). You could even try “Get Off Your Gas”or “You Can Bet Your Gas,” with a $50 gas gift card.
If one of your target audiences is businesses, then you can say:
“Now is the time to invest.”
Remind business owners and executives what Apple’s Tim Cook said, “We believe in investing during downturns.” In the B2B world, look for ways to bring extra value and informational nuggets to those businesses you serve.
The current economy is actually a great opportunity for credit unions and banks. Everyone is talking about the economy. And financial institutions are in the economic business. Rather than seeing the potential slowdown as a closed door, view it as an open door to growth.