Leveraging the Power of the Credit Union Message

Credit unions have a powerful message to share with the masses, but marketing budgets have tightened. Is your credit union leveraging this powerful message in your marketing initiatives?


The first six months for credit unions industry continued to be a source of financial service for members across the country. Credit unions saw record loan originations of $144.2B, share balances grow to their highest level in a decade and the fastest annual growth rate in membership since 2004. In addition, credit unions more than doubled their mortgage market share in 24 months and are seeing growth across all lending areas even while banks report declines. (Download Callahan's Quarterly Report here)

Credit unions have a powerful message to share with the masses. Is your credit union leveraging this powerful message in your marketing initiatives?

Missed Opportunity in 2009?

Marketing budgets tightened in the aftermath of the corporate stabilization expense and the harsh realities of the recession. Credit unions in the five largest peer groups saw a decrease in education and promotional expenses for the first time in five years:

12-month growth in Marketing per Member






Credit Unions over 1B






Credit Unions 500M-1B






Credit Unions 250M-500M






Credit Unions 100M-250M






Credit Unions 50M-100M






It isn't always about the marketing channels, it's about the message. Tell Your Story, it's a good one.

Although your credit union may be maneuvering with a smaller budget, the continued economic stagnation and negative press surrounding banks gives credit unions an unprecedented opportunity to share their unique value. The difference credit unions have made in the lives of members is a powerful message.

Is your credit union sharing your story of making a difference? In just the past month, credit unions have taken their story to the streets, both locally and nationally:

  • Sharing Local Partnerships and Successes – Is your credit union SEG-based or reaching a small geographic community? Think about creatively supporting the community during a critical time of year. Spending your marketing dollars on a campaign targeting a core segment of your membership versus a generalized campaign for all current and potential members will create a greater impact. And it doesn't need to be costly.

    Apple Federal Credit Union ($1.2B, Faifax, VA) has a diverse field of membership, with the core service focused on the education community. At the end of August, Apple FCU ended a 5-week "Stuff the Bus" campaign. The credit union's members and employees, as well as local businesses, donated new back-to-school basics for students in need in their community. All of the credit union's branches participated in collection, and helped to share supplies at a critical time. Click here to see their press release on the promotion.

    How can you get your membership and community involved in a joint event that helps increase the visibility and value of the credit union?

  • Leverage the Press – Is your credit union highlighting the successes credit unions are seeing nationally? In the past 4 months, credit unions have reached the pages of community and national newspapers – in sections typically dominated by 'big bank' headlines.

    In a recent article in Business Week, "A Trickle of Hope for Housing", State Employees Credit Union ($18B, Raleigh, NC) was profiled as a success story in today's housing market. While commercial lenders are leaving and tightening their lending standards, SECU expects to write $2.5B in new mortgages in 2009. That is a powerful number for readers of Business Week to see – and a positive story that carries the credit union name.

    And it's not just newspapers. Network news is finally tuning in to the value credit unions are bringing to homebuyers. Just last Wednesday, CNBC highlighted the performance of California credit unions in supporting home purchasing in a state otherwise struggling. View this video.

    Share links to these articles and headlines in your monthly newsletter or in your branches. Helping your members see the difference the industry, and their own credit union, is making will help turn them into spokesmen. Word-of-mouth is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools your credit union can utilize in 2010.

Your marketing budget is probably due in the next few weeks. As you consider ways to keep your marketing budget in line with leaner operating expenses, equally consider the once in a lifetime opportunity credit unions have to reach consumers in real need of better financial services options. Your story counts.

Already leveraging your credit union's story? Comment on this article with the unique ways your credit union is sharing its story about the difference it makes.