Marketing Budgets: Small, Yet Efficient

Credit unions will spend a total of over $800 million on marketing this year. This is dwarfed by the billions of dollars that banks will spend; however, efficiency and target marketing can maximize returns on every marketing dollar.


By every measure, credit unions do not have the annual marketing budgets to compete with banks. 

The total marketing budget for all credit unions totals $811 million annually.  In comparison, Bank of America’s annual marketing budget exceeds $1.3 billion, nearly twice that of all credit unions and roughly 100 times that of the credit union with the largest budget, Navy Federal Credit Union, at $8.7 million (annualized as of 9/30/05).

With such a disparity in numbers, it is obvious that credit unions need to be not only creative and efficient in spending their marketing budgets, but adept at getting the maximum return from each marketing dollar.

Maximizing on a Tight Budget


While maximizing the return from somewhat slender marketing budgets is a challenge, through careful planning and efficiency, it is possible.

For example, America First Federal Credit Union (OH, $3.2M in assets), targets members through its website, America First has a large marketing budget in relation to other credit unions, however its use of the online channel is effective at achieving specific goals as well as being able to monitor returns.

America First targets members with specific products based on its current portfolio as compared to the products and services offered by the credit union. When a member logs into online banking, the advertising and marketing messages that appear on the site are tailored to that specific member.  America First is then able to track by month what they spent on the target marketing as well as what was promoted to members and the number of members who purchased those products and services.




Jan. 16, 2006


  • Good and helpful info. Well written, too. FYI. One flaw, though, American First FCU is more than $3.2 billion.
  • Thanks for putting down on paper the sad and stark reality of credit union marketing budgets. How does anyone expect us to compete in the marketplace with the budgets/staff we are given? It's become an almost impossible task. Does anyone have any suggestions/solutions?
  • Americafirst is a good example of CU's creatively using their "drop in the buckett" marketing budget. What is the potential cost - benefit spread to targeting web-members?
  • Great article. The key is to go left when everyone else is going right. Our agency has worked with several small to medium size credit unions with much success. The solution is to find the right partner to help you navigate the advertising choices.