7 Things CUs Must Include in Their Brand Marketing Strategy

in Additional CU Weekly Articles

“Brand” is not easy to define, but the best ones evoke feelings of confidence and trust. Your brand is bigger than your product, logo, website or corporate name. For credit unions, the people who drive brand identity converged on San Diego for the Marketing Association of Credit Unions (MAC) Conference every year. MAC undoubtedly sheds a bright light on best practices in Marketing. But the best brands are built and sustained by the values that employees share throughout an enterprise. Let’s break it down with a list of elements that credit unions should include in their brand marketing.

  1. Use data and AI to improve targeting, messaging and ROI of marketing campaigns. Credit unions are inundated with unstructured data, while consumers are bombarded with marketing messages. To cut through this noise, analytics delivers critical engagement metrics for you to focus on meeting your members’ needs. Marketing campaigns fueled by insights from your data enable you to prioritize highly engaged prospects and members. Imagine how much smarter you could work if you knew who had read your product info or offers, and for how long? Such systems exist.
  2. Step up your content marketing game. Yes, everyone is doing content marketing, but you can distinguish yourself by matching the content to your members’ needs. For example, educate prospective first-time home buyers about mortgages, send “tax calculators” to those most affected by tax reform, and impart retirement planning tips based that address the different career stages of your members. Be subtle in the way you connect the content to your own offerings, so your content isn’t perceived as a marketing pitch. Also, broaden your appeal by including videos, infographics and audio, and promote on social media channels.
  3. Employee brand training is not enough; walk the talk. If a CEO simply talks about core values but the credit union doesn’t live by them, you will not be able to optimize your brand marketing. Speak to your employees, especially the customer-facing staff, to ensure they understand the brand. For example, they should know the benefits of a credit union vs. a bank and be able to articulate them.
  4. Give back to the community in charities and outreach. Choose a charity or cause important to your members. This kind of real action tells your community service story with the kind of power that words cannot match. One credit union, Mazuma, contributes in three ways: financially (through a charitable foundation), physical space (allowing an outside group to use a conference room) and time (employees are paid 40 hours a year to perform community service). Gesa Credit Union’s Carousel of Dreams provides the community with family entertainment and a year-round venue for arts, entertainment, weddings, and birthday parties in Kennewick, Washington.
  5. Create a crisis plan, so you are not caught off guard. Formulate a plan to communicate with your members in the event of a crisis, such as a data breach. Despite a rise in cyberattacks, a recent study showed that even though more than half of the responding companies said an automated incident response would be beneficial, fewer than 11% had implemented one. Craft a full-blown response to limit any potential brand damage.
  6. Reward loyalty with acts of gratitude. Loyal customers deserve and appreciate recognition. Northwest Federal Credit Union celebrated its 70th anniversary with “70 Acts of We,” which were special events or product specials that benefited the community and Northwest members. Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union helps members celebrate the closing of a mortgage by sponsoring a housewarming party. On a simpler level, you can thank loyal individual members with a personalized letter or some swag.
  7. Improve communication and response rates by using text messaging. You see it every day: People are connected to their mobile phones, and texting conversations are instantaneous and ubiquitous. Nine out of 10 consumers say they want to use text messaging to communicate with businesses. Text messages have a 98% open rate, compared with just 20% for email. If you want to increase engagement with your members and convert prospects, text messaging is a go-to platform.

The best brand marketing combines two critical elements: the personal touch and the right technology. 

In his keynote address at MAC, Ron Tite said, “Think about your larger purpose, not just about your product.” 

He urged credit unions to go the extra mile for their members, and tell their members about their story in an authentic manner. Combine that personal and member-centric approach with analytics and AI technology so you can measure your success and work smarter. With a platform grounded in AI, Eltropy offers Text Messaging + Analytics. Eltropy has helped its customers increase member engagement by 800% and sales conversions by 300%. 

Would you like to request a demo? Contact Leagues Vice President of Credit Union Solutions and Membership Tonja Wheatley at 909-212-6023 or tonjaw@ccul.org.