Now that the New Year is here, credit unions, like many other businesses, are planning to make 2008 their best year ever. For many credit unions, member retention and growth remain the biggest components of the planning equation and can sometimes create overwhelming challenges. This is especially true for credit unions operating without the benefit of an affinity group to strengthen the relationship. These credit unions do not have the connection to a captive audience and must rely more on marketing solutions to ensure steady membership growth and retention.
Going back to basics should be considered the first step towards correcting or improving problem areas of your marketing plan. If membership retention and growth have been challenging for you, it's time to take a fresh look at your current membership composition. Then, establish a marketing plan that renews your commitment to current members while targeting potential new members.
Listen to your members' pain.
Find out how your members are hurting and be the hero – relieve their pain! Most people today face a common set of financial challenges, and you have the opportunity to provide solutions for them. Whether members have high credit card debt, high-interest home mortgages, student loans or the need for a new car, make sure you are listening so you know when to step in and help.
For instance, make sure your members know about preferred relationships you have that offer benefits to them. Many credit unions partner with reputable auto dealers that provide access to a variety of cars and a high level of customer service. This can make an often stressful, major purchase go more smoothly for members. By incorporating this referral strategy into your marketing plan, you will not only increase the volume of automobile loans, you will also enhance your credibility with members, improving retention and increasing the possibility of word of mouth referrals.
Focus on relationship marketing like never before.
Make sure your members know you are listening and that you care about them. Don't forget the importance of simple follow-up phone calls and hand-written notes. Continue to use e-mail and Web site marketing, but don't rely on that alone. With the ever-increasing focus on the overall customer experience, personal touches related to member relationships become critical marketing elements for credit unions, particularly those without the built-in audience an affinity provides.
Of course, setting unachievable growth goals is almost as bad as having no goals at all. Utilize all possible resources for analysis, such as local demographics, local and national economical statistics and trends, and any other conditions that directly affect your membership. Then use those data to set realistic goals and to target new members.
“Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow.”
Fleetwood Mac said it best with this popular song. The beginning of the year is the perfect time to renew, refresh , and reeducate. Embrace resources such as technology that give you an advantage. Clean up the areas of your marketing plan that need improvement, and put your marketing team on a regimented marketing “work-out” plan. Realize that in the midst of challenge, opportunities can be great. This is the time to renew your credit union marketing plan and prepare for tomorrow.
Enterprise Car Sales has helped to successfully increase auto loan volume for more than 1,000 credit union partners. Visit www.enterprise.com/perfectpartnership for more information on how your credit union can partner with Enterprise to create market campaigns across all generations and increase auto loans.