Part 1 of 3 P’s: Product-Free, Personal, Passion

Forget product, place, price and promotion. This three-part series features credit union success stories that demonstrate the power of the new three P’s.


At the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Conference this past month, I attended a session led by Joe Sullivan, CEO of Market Insights, a Chicago-based consulting firm. He said we should forget about the traditional 4 P’s of Marketing: Product, Place, Price, and Promotion. Instead, credit unions seeking growth should follow three new P’s: Product Free, Personal and Passion.

Vancity Credit Union (see story below)
Example of "Product Free" Message

Over the next three weeks, I will share a credit union success story that matches each of the three P’s. This week is Part 1 of the three-part series and focuses on leading with a product free message.

Product Free: Vancity Credit Union
Vancity Credit Union’s ($12B in Vancouver, Canada) approach is simple: “We believe that an integral part of being a smart provider of banking services is being a good neighbor and community leader. We just can’t have one without the other.” The credit union has taken this core premise of the credit union charter and channeled it into four main areas of focus shown below.

Vancity's Four Main Areas of Focus
Access to Financial Services
  • Financial education
  • Personal saving programs
  • Access to credit
  • Community solutions
Climate Change Solutions
  • Reducing our impact
  • Financing member action
  • Supporting community action
Strong Non-profits and
  • Community-owned assets
  • Financial sustainability
Successful Social Enterprises
  • Investing and strengthening the sector
  • Increasing access to capital and consumer markets

Across all member communication channels, Vancity focuses on its values and the above key areas instead of its products. Its “Change Everything” campaign is not a vehicle to promote the best rate, but rather it is a force that brings members together. Through the credit union’s community blog (pictured below),members are making an emotional connection with Vancity’s values. Instead of discussing mortgage and auto loans, they are actively participating in its mission through postings about changing everything, from their health to living plastic-free.

Results demonstrate Vancity’s connection with members. 2005 Year-End performance reflects 11.6% member growth, 18% share growth and 12.5% growth on its balance sheet. Dave Mowat, departing CEO, says “Our momentum is being sustained by the inextricable connection between smart business and good corporate citizenship.”

Vancity Ad
Blog Posting

Stay tuned for Part Two of the 3 P’s series focusing on Personal member service.




April 9, 2007


  • This is a very cool way to promote credit union sense of community. Having attended the Blogging Basics Callahan Webinar where these new commuication venues were profiled, I now have a better understanding of how the non-marketing strategy is used. There is a broad variety of content, making it difficult to categorize interests across such a diverse number of topics. In this world of multi-tasking and runways of intersecting information - the pattern is 21st century tapestry than 60s plaid. There is still a common thread - and this is one way to attract new members. Build the trust, support and educate, show diversity - then sign them up. Looking forward to the 2nd segment. Product free is one thread.