Posted by Vickey Morris, SCMS, CCUE, CUDE, VP Marketing, Cornerstone Credit Union League on 6/27/2016

Marketing is more than a pretty postcard or sign, and placing an ad.  It is a process used to inform and generate new business from members and potential members.  Most credit unions, whether big or small, try to direct their marketing to select audiences, and that means understanding who your members are and how your products or service can better serve them.  Being able to connect on a personal level means you can focus on turning them into a group of dedicated followers.

Niche marketing by definition means “concentrating your marketing efforts on a small but specific and well defined segment of the population.”

The Benefits of Niche Marketing

It sets you apart from the pack: Presenting a set of benefits to a unique audience shows an understanding of your member’s needs.

It’s less competitive: The smaller your target market is, the less competition there will be for the same audience.

It’s more affordable: Since your audience will be smaller, you can get more bang for your buck and save on your marketing campaigns.

Your members are more loyal: Niche marketing is all about nurturing a base of true believers. Niche members trust that you have their best interests at heart since you understand them more than the competition.

Your members are easier to target: Having a very specific audience in mind makes targeting your marketing campaigns simple and straightforward.

It is important to customize your marketing to appeal to the specific interests of the member you are selling to.  But how do you know your niche market? First you need to determine:

  • Who has a need for your product or service?
  • Does your product solve a problem?
  • Who will benefit the most from your product or service?
  • Does your product make your member feel good
  • What makes your product or service better or different from other out there?

When building a niche profile you may also want to consider the following:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Family Status
  • Ethnicity
  • Lifestyle
  • Interests
  • Values

Identifying your specific audience may be a challenge, but once you know who you are trying to reach you can start putting that knowledge to use by building highly targeted marketing plans and campaigns to win over the heart of your members.

Categories: Marketing & Printing, Sales & Service
Posted by Mr. Howard Bufe, AVP, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 6/24/2016

Is it time to inject some serious diagnostics into your strategic planning?

Maybe this year is the perfect time for asking ourselves some hard questions.  Is there a fault line in our current operation?  It’s always a great idea to check the vital signs of our organizations and confirm that all parts of the organization are working toward the best interest of the membership.

A great place to start is our membership.  Identify and talk to three categories of your membership: your most profitable members, your least profitable members, and those you don’t currently serve and listen to what they have to say?  Try to identify the financial, social and emotional needs of each group, along with the frustrations they have towards financial services.  Some of these questions could guide you through the process:  1) Are there unmet needs within the groups?  2) Are the members loyal to our brand?  3) Do they feel locked in, or would they defect if they could?  4) Could emerging technology simplify how the end users’ needs are met?    Gaining input and feedback can provide great benefits.

Next we should ask ourselves, is our business model appropriate to accomplish our Vision and Mission?  Do we have a need to redesign, reinvent or restructure our current operation to better meet our member’s current and future financial needs?

There are four interlocking elements in our operation and we need to identify what each of those mean to us!

  1. What’s our Member Value Proposition?  How do we create value for our members?  What opportunities are available to us to create and provide a valued proposition for our membership?

  2. What is our profit formula?  How do we design our profit blueprint while creating value for the member?

  3. What key resources do we have that we can depend on?  What key resources are we lacking?  How do we fill the GAP between the two?

  4. Have we implemented the appropriate operational and managerial processes that allow us to deliver value in a way that benefits the member while keeping the credit union a viable entity far into the future?

Bottom line, it’s always a great idea to run diagnostics and ask those tough questions about our organization and adjust or reinvent ourselves to provide value to our membership.

Categories: Education & Training, Financial & Auditing, Strategic Planning & Consulting, Succession Planning
Posted by David England, Senior Research Analyst, Cornerstone Credit Union League on 6/22/2016

Did you hear about the huge controversy at the U.S. Open last Sunday?  Dustin Johnson won, despite the debacle caused by the USGA officials.  For our purposes, let’s just say that their procedure was … “poor.”  Fortunately, the fiasco did not impact Dustin Johnson on Sunday.  But, when we use “poor” policies and procedures, or execute good ones poorly, we can lose Members. However, when we get it right (from the Member’s perspective), we increase loyalty among our Members.  So, policies and procedures are important to Members, and they should be used as weapons to increase loyalty and draw defectors to us from other institutions!

Ever run into service, policies or procedures that require too much of your effort?  Often, the effort is just not worth it.  How often do your Members have to re-explain an issue? How many have to be transferred?  How many transfers?  How many have to contact the company more than once to resolve an issue?  Member loyalty has more to do with how well you deliver on the basics than on frills that might be attached to “the service experience.”

Research informs us that:

  1. Delighting customers, by exceeding their expectations (offering a refund, free shipping, free product/service), makes customers only slightly more loyal than by meeting their basic needs.
  2. The relationship between Service Satisfaction and Loyalty is not very strong.
  3. Companies build loyal customers by helping them resolve issues quickly and easily by developing procedures that reduce/minimize customers’ effort to solve problems.
  4. The Customer Effort Score (CES) is a better indicator of loyalty (compared to the Net Promoter Score or Customer Satisfaction). 

Additionally, the Customer Effort Score (CES) supplies actionable findings by pointing out problems with services or products and inserts the customer into your continuous improvement efforts.  Making things easy for your Members means removing obstacles, or not making them repeat things… GETTING IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!   Whenever you can, do not just solve a problem: head off the next one.   Research is showing us that over one-half of those who call in for service went to the website first but could not resolve the issue there.  Improve your website and minimize channel switching!

The efficiencies are tremendous, saving institutions time and money!

As a research tool, constantly use CES feedback to reduce customer effort.  Use the learning to change policies, procedures and your culture, empowering your front line associates to deliver “easy” experiences.

There is much to consider when developing a CES program. Which questions to ask, who to contact for feedback, how many do we talk to, etc.   This is an extremely potent tool that will improve loyalty and profits.  Look into it!   

Categories: Research, Strategic Planning & Consulting, Technology Consulting & Compliance
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