Three Ways to Build Word of Mouth Campaigns

Here are three ways your credit union can generate word of mouth campaigns to encourage and promote member referrals.


Increasingly competitive markets demand effective ways of generating positive buzz around your credit union. Word of mouth is a powerful tool that is gaining popularity among credit unions.

Word of mouth, viral marketing, or member referral campaigns are all variations of the same concept: Transforming customers into brand advocates. While all of these tactics rely upon the public to spread the word, here are three things your credit union can do to help encourage and promote member referrals.

1. Offer Rewards
Money talks, but is it too much to compensate your new members with $100 for joining your financial institution? First U.S. Community Credit Union ($162m in Sacramento, CA) does not think so. Last month First U.S. Community joined the ranks of national institutions offering financial incentives for new member. ING Direct USA and Bank of America are two prominent institutions already using this tactic to generate referrals.

2. Initiate Positive Services
Proactively addressing members' changing needs can also spawn positive word of mouth. Last week Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union (PSECU, $2.2b in Harrisburg, PA) impressed members and competitors when it reissued 7,300 credit cards after a nationwide security breach. Rather than waiting to assess the damage control as other financial institutions did, they quickly issued new cards to the most vulnerable members to assuage their fears and curtail future problems.

3. Give Thanks
A simple way to sustain word-of-mouth momentum is with a structured effort to thank members and employees for referrals. New England Federal Credit Union ($480m in Williston, VT) surprised members by sending them a thank you note for referring new members. They also use their members in print ads and will have one of the photos enlarged and framed as a thank you gift. Similarly, Services Center Federal Credit Union ($22m in Yankton, SD) initiated a campaign to thank members when a new member mentions being referred by a current member.