Communication As A Growth Strategy

Through their blogs, industry commentators are pushing credit unions to improve communication at every point of contact with members.


Credit unions, like all businesses, are always looking to grow. Throughout the blogosphere many tactics emerge as the “best” way to inspire growth, but credit union bloggers are highlighting a focus that applies to every growth strategy: communication.

This week, industry blogs seem to be focused on three topics that demand improved communication:

  1. Articulate your mission. In the past decade, there has been increased emphasis on why companies exist. People don’t want to just buy your products, they want to have a connection with your brand. To demonstrate, blogger Bo McDonald of Your Marketing Co in his recent blog “Why ‘WHY’ Is An Important Question To Answer For Credit Union Growth” uses the example of Apple.

    McDonald says the “success of Apple doesn’t lie because they have a ‘great product’ … the Apple brand stands for something more.” What can credit unions take away from this example? Apple found a way to communicate why it existed and what its goal is beyond selling innovative products. Because of that, Apple found huge success in a loyal consumer base. Credit unions must do the same – help members understand why, not just how, you can and want to help them.

  2. Make your offerings and terms clear. Consumers want the opportunity to collect information on their options, lay them out side-by-side, and make a decision on which is best for them. They can’t do that if they don’t understand what is being offered. In a recent Filene Research Institute Blog post, Matt Davis poses the question “Is Bank Of America More Consumer-Friendly Than Your Credit Union?”

    To many credit unions who pride themselves on customer service, those may seem like fighting words, but Davis justifies asking this question. He reveals that “BofA’s Clarity Commitment Mortgage documents attempt to improve their customers’ understanding of loan options” and “the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ‘Know Before You Owe’ initiative has gone a long way toward making it easier to understand mortgage disclosures.”

    Davis’s purpose in pointing out the strides that a big bank and a government agency have made in improving communication? He says he would “expect innovation in consumer-friendly disclosures to come from credit unions,” and many credit union advocates would agree.

  3. Explain the impact that major economic or regulatory changes will have on your credit union and/or your members. Every day consumers read about a new regulation or movement in the economy that could impact them, their finances, and how they bank – but they may not understand those implications. Connexus Credit Union($356.5M, Wausau, WI) exemplified handling this situation by tackling a current economic issue head-on in their member-facing blog.

    In their post “Rising Gas Prices: 3 Things You Need to Know” Connexus explained to members where gas prices are predicted to be by summer, how higher gas prices affect more than members’ fuel tanks, and what the could do about it. Connexus took a major issue that was plaguing members and made the effort to help them by communicating clearly how to understand the issue, how the issue directly and indirectly impacts members, and how to overcome it.

While some bloggers encourage credit unions to better articulate their mission to members, other commentators recommend that credit unions carefully examine their offerings and how they are presented. Credit unions themselves broke down outside economic factors influencing members. But in credit union blogs this past month, one consistent message appears: communicate with members.


March 29, 2012



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