Internal Marketing Can Pay Off

Sending positive messages about your credit union to employees as well as members can boost your bottom line.


One of Dupaco Community Credit Union’s more successful marketing campaigns targeted an often-overlooked demographic: its own employees. The Iowa credit union ($942M, Dubuque, IA) invested heavily in developing a program to strengthen customer service skills in all its workers by promoting the company’s philosophies with internal marketing.

“It’s a lot of work. It took a lot of time,” says Amy Wickham, assistant vice president of marketing communications for Dupaco. “But the cost pays off hundreds of times what you put into it.”

The Challenge

Dupaco Community Credit Union wanted to ensure its new employees, many of whom were in their first job out of college, had the frontline interpersonal skills that were on par with its more veteran workers. Some of the employees lacked professional body language and confident handshaking skills and Dupaco wanted to energize and empower them, Wickham says.

“The need was getting new employees up to speed with strong positive help from experienced members,” Wickham says. “We wanted to strengthen their greeting, following up and getting to know members on a personal level. We want the new member to be greeted well.”

The Strategy

Internal marketing is strategy that empowers employees and promotes the firm to them as if they were the customers.

In 2008, Dupaco CEO Robert Hoefer wanted to get newer frontline staff up to speed and developed an idea for an internal marketing campaign that would improve customer relations. The goal was to engage current members and make potential new members feel welcome enough to join.

“He’s very passionate about employees and helping members,” Wickham says of Hoefer. “He wanted to get our new employees up to speed.”

Dupaco formed a committee to work on the campaign and worked with consultants, starting with a boilerplate internal marketing format that they tailored for their credit union’s employees.

The Launch

Dupaco Credit Union launched a 90-day training course two years ago under the mantra “Know. Show. Grow.” that’s aimed at new employees. Its onboarding program starts with employees receiving a “Welcome Aboard” packet in the mail, complete with Dupaco merchandise, and a training schedule.

Then, the credit union holds a one-day course that even current employees are required to take, with more experienced employees sharing their knowledge, stories and tips with new workers.

 “It’s a good opportunity for older employees to step up and say what they’ve learned,” Wickham says. “It reinforces the message of the course.”

The staff training is then refined through ongoing staff communications, with internal group emails several times a week describing the latest example of how the Dupaco experience has affected member or employee. For example, an email may describe how an employee helped a member who was struggling with not qualifying for a loan.

The Results

After the training program was established, Dupaco nearly doubled its assets and grew membership by more than 21% to now more than 62,578 in less than four years by turning its marketing campaign inward to target employees. The credit union’s assets have nearly doubled from 2007 to just shy of $1 billion in the second quarter of 2011, according to Callahan & Associates’ Peer-to-Peer data.

"While other financial institutions are struggling, we're doing really well," Wickham says. “We’re at the point now where we’re ready to add some cross-selling courses, but keeping in line with the Dupaco experience. It’s a great experience. We want to drive it home that we really have a mission and the mission is to make member life better. People are excited about it.

“It’s reenergized employees. It’s empowered employees. They’re looking to help members who come in the door now. We’re getting stories everyday of people moving their accounts – it’s really exciting.”




Sept. 12, 2011


  • I enjoyed the article. It shows what happens when an organization sets a clear, compelling destination; actively aligns its processes and resources; educates people about the journey; engages people through a series of on-going internal conversations; asks them to help--and then recognizes them for taking the actions that build organizational momentum. Nice going Dupaco!
    Jim Cardwell
  • Great article. It's also true that motivated and engaged employees offer the best customer service.
    Steve Brown
  • That is great to see. Empower your employees to empower your members! It's a win, win.
  • What an interesting and successful program! Thanks for the idea!