CU Growth Tactics for Community Bankers

On July 30, SNL Financial released numbers showing that credit unions have enjoyed a growth in deposits not matched by banks since 2009.

Credit unions benefit from the perception – true or not – of serving the so-called Average American, the working-class Joe that can’t get a break from the banks. That speaks to the history of credit unions, but today the line between credit unions and community banks blurs as the financial space gets more and more crowded.

All this leads me to this question: If the line between credit unions and community banks has blurred, can community bankers use some “credit union tactics” to spur growth?

State Employees’ Credit Union (of North Carolina) found success via frontline marketing, in which employees informed their members about additional services. Is your bank educating your customers on the front lines? If your bank offers ID theft protection, is a teller mentioning that when a customer comes in to make a deposit? Make your bank “stand out” by making it a priority to educate your customers about what financial products are best for them – creating loyalties and a more invested customer base.

What about your bank’s social media presence? With ⅔ of online Americans on social media platforms, we’re no longer in the “early adopter” phase. Many banks still don’t have a Facebook profile – and of those that do, many still don’t use it to engage with customers. Scared of negative feedback via social media? Credit unions typically shift the focus to community and member involvement, but community banks can make that claim too. Steer the conversation to your community – and your part in it – like First Niagara Bank, which with their “I Love Upstate New York” page:

“hoped to obtain 1,000 “likes” in a month. Instead it surpassed that goal within a day, reaching 30,000 “likes” within three months.

The page encourages people to share their passion for upstate New York through a number of activities, including posting scenic photographs, sharing their plans for fun in the area over the weekend, or contributing to a timeline of historic upstate New York milestones. It also shares links to festivals and events, as well as the occasional coupon for local businesses. The feel-good site avoids talk of banking, completely eliminating the customer criticisms that tend to appear on other bank Facebook pages.”

Some credit unions see growth by expanding their membership base, like in 2008 when Navy Federal Credit Union expanded its membership to all Department of Defense. Of course, banks can’t use the same tactics here, but have you analyzed your customer base? How are you marketing to non-customers? A February 2012 Financial Brand article, examining consumers that chose to switch banks, advised concentrating on life stages, like moving to a new town or changing jobs.

How can your bank set itself apart?

In the news:
Five Ways Banks Can Build Mutually-Rewarding Relationships
LIBOR rate-rigging affects public services.
Banks ease loan standards.
Looking for create growth? Come to Bank Director’s Growth Conference in New Orleans.


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