Missed Marketing Messages? A Look at Lost Opportunities for Credit Unions

Two recent ads with credit union-esque themes trigger questions about how the industry should advocate for credit unions and members.


I listen to National Public Radio in the mornings on Washington’s WAMU and last week for the first time heard a quick public service/sponsorship announcement from CUNA. The brief spot cited credit unions’ role as trusted financial providers to the “little guy.” Given the station’s generally progressive listenership, it struck me as a clever marriage of message and audience.

The spot ended with an invitation to visit the website www.lookoutforthelittleguy.com. As soon as I got to work, I typed out the URL, eagerly anticipating a new consumer-oriented site explaining why and how credit unions are the protectors of economic democracy and equality. The link opened up CUNA’s regular home page. The top of the page featured a link to a credit union locator, but no other obvious consumer-oriented information, actions to take, or reference to the “little guy” theme.

Stop the presses! It has been called to our attention that the site mentioned in the CUNA radio spot is www.lookoutforthelittleguy.ORG, not .com.

(The royal) we had not had our coffee yet on that very early morning. However, we doubt that we are the only person to mishear. How about linking the .com site to the .org site?

The .org site is a great start on a consumer-oriented site and we look forward to following the adventures of the cute little guy. Peace.

Contrast this with an advertisement currently running in the current issue of Fast Company magazine. This full-page ad reads “I don’t 'Heart' my bank.” It sounds like a theme that credit unions could build on, but it actually directs readers to the site www.startabank.com.

When you follow the URL, you arrive at an action-oriented site that walks interested professionals through the steps involved in evaluating and launching a de novo bank. The firm placing the magazine ad offers consulting on the chartering process.

Imagine if the ad “I don’t 'Heart' my bank” brought individuals to a site about chartering a credit union. How should the ad position the rationale for starting a credit union?

If www.lookoutforthelittleguy.com was a brand-new site, what do you think are the most compelling points it should provide to consumers? What actions should it enable visitors to take?




Jan. 22, 2007


  • Melanie- Use a dot-org suffix (NOT dot-com) and you'll get the real little guy's story
  • All of the comments above are right on. This site should define our differentiators clearly. We did this with a site that we leverage through all of our mass marketing at www.WhyWeAreBest.org. The content to build a robust message is there, it just needs built out...
    Rich Jones
  • Great article, Melanie. What a terrible call for CUNA to have that URL redirect to the main CUNA site! Wasted opportunity. What would the ideal site look like? It would present credit union vs. bank rate averages. It would show the amazingly high customer loyalty scores that CUs get vs. banks. It would focus on initiatives like the NCUF's REAL Solutions project. It would provide a simple zip code locator for consumers to find local credit unions and see if membership requirements could be met. It would speak in plain language and incorporate social media elements like a blog/podcast dealing with financial literacy. And it would focus on telling real stories about CUs standing up for the little guy.
    Trey Reeme
  • Interesting commentary on a lot of levels. One, maybe it is a little presumptive to hope that listeners will make the leap from the "looking out for the little guy" message to CUNA's general mission as displayed by its homepage. Even a small splash at the "littleguy" URL that eventually leads to CUNA might better assist the transition from message to opportunity. Second, while I'm not sure how to fit the little heart symbol in the URL, there is a opportunity here to capitalize on growing concern about banking options. Someone just needs to pick it up and run with it! Good insight.
  • Gotta say I disagree on the updated: "The .org site is a great start on a consumer-oriented site." CUNA has stated that the site isn't consumer-oriented, but rather aimed at members of Congress and their staffs. To CUNA's credit they've been talking publicly about the campaign and hopefully is receptive to advice on how to make it better.
    Trey Reeme
  • Does it bother anyone else that the Little Guy is a balding white 47 year-old man? The typical credit union member. Why would we lead with that image? www.bankerspank.com -- I have no idea who made these (I doubt it was CUNA) but these rock my world. Best advertising I've EVER seen about the movement -- because young people (who we so desperately need to appeal to) will relate to it, it's smart and funny.
    Denise Wymore