Over the past decade, an increasing number of credit unions have converted or expanded their charters to include wider fields of membership. In fact, over 1,000 credit unions report at least a 900% increase in their potential membership base since June of 1999.
The core idea behind these expansions was to grow the membership base of the credit union – allowing more consumers to benefit from the products and services offered. But in most cases, that idea has not been realized.
As the chart below shows, membership has remained relatively flat compared with sharp FOM growth and credit union’s overall market penetration percentage is on a steep decline.
So how can credit unions reverse this trend without spending a fortune on marketing to their growing number of potential members? Here are three suggestions to consider:
- Use your existing resources more efficiently – From frontline staff to Board members, everyone at your credit union has connections to the local community. Creating a culture of community involvement and empowering staff and volunteers to go forth and spread your CU’s message can be a powerful (and inexpensive) tool.
- Find your niche and focus on it – It is easy to become distracted from your core target as the potential membership base grows dramatically. Don’t lose sight of who your ideal member is and if you are not sure, it’s probably time to re-define your credit union’s unique selling propositions and identify what types of consumers would be most likely to relate to them.
- Partner, partner, partner – Even as FOMs expand, leveraging the relationships you’ve built with existing SEGs or forming relationships with new employer or community groups can be an excellent, and cost-effective, way to drive new membership growth.