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Where are the credit unions?

Banks are in trouble.  They screwed up bad.  Customers are pissed off.

But credit unions are community-owned, non-profits that are happy, healthy, and provide all the same services.

This is one of those rare moments in history when entire markets are shifting.  If credit unions were doing a decent job of marketing, they could grab a massive percentage of the market from banks.  Think iTunes vs. CD sales.

But I haven't been asked to switch. I haven't see an ad. I haven't see a news story comparing failing banks to thriving credit unions. 

My advice to the credit unions:  drop everything you are doing and start marketing. This is your moment.  You will not have another opportunity like this in your lifetime.

Did you know this?

1. Voluntary Membership
Credit unions are voluntary, cooperative organizations, offering services to people willing to accept the responsibilities and benefits of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Member Control
Cooperatives are democratic organizations owned and controlled by their members, one member one vote, with equal opportunity for participation in setting policies and making decisions.

3. Members’ Economic Participation
Members are the owners. As such they contribute to, and democratically control, the capital of the cooperative. This benefits members in proportion to the transactions with the cooperative rather than on the capital invested.

4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If the cooperative enters into agreements with other organizations or raises capital from external sources, it is done so based on terms that ensure democratic control by the member and maintains the cooperative autonomy.

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Comments

  1. Tim Mislansky March 1, 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    Andy, thanks for the plug for credit unions and you’re right and that as an industry we don’t market well.

  2. Marian B. Wood March 2, 2009 at 7:50 am #

    Interestingly, I notice that local credit unions are advertising locally, at least in Connecticut–and they’re getting good response, from what I hear. Also People’s United Bank and other regional banks have mounted outreach efforts to differentiate themselves from debt-ridden big guys and showcase offerings geared toward current economic situation. Take a look at People’s United home page, for instance. https://www.peoples.com/

  3. Jenny Reynolds March 2, 2009 at 8:56 am #

    Hey Andy – I’m the VP of Marketing for a small CU in Southwest Missouri. We’ve definitely seen an increase in both national and local media coverage (free advertising?? my favorite!!), but as an industry it would be great if a national campaign had been implemented during all of this. Discussions continue, but so far no real action.
    Thanks so much for the mention! If no one has asked yet, you should definitely make the switch to a CU. Find one to join here: http://www.findacreditunion.com (or I’m glad to make a recommendation :)

  4. Ron Patiro March 4, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    I’ve been wondering why CU aren’t getting more attention as well. They have all the elements in place for great WOM.
    I firmly believe in the power of co-ops and it’s great to hear about them on a favorite blog!

  5. Deb Eastman March 10, 2009 at 8:17 pm #

    Andy, While the Financial institution have been focused on acquire customers with gimicks, Credit Unions have been focused on delivering a positive customer experience. A CU group formed the “member loyalty group” last year and launched a major initiative around Net Promoter. http://www.satmetrix.com/satmetrix/news_events.php?page=10&pid=6
    So, not only do they have the attributes listed above but they are also focused on keeping the customers they acquire. With their Net Promoter scores they should have ripe territory for activating positive word of mouth!
    Deb Eastman
    CMO, Satmetrix

  6. Andy Sernovitz March 11, 2009 at 1:52 am #

    But bottom line … most people don’t know what a credit union is or where to find one. Their marketing is shamefully poor, and their web sites are mostly 1998-level. If you go to http://www.creditunion.coop/, the official industry site, 1) finding a credit union is 4 clicks deep and 2) the entire home page is a fraud alert.
    This is their moment to shine. I hope they do.

  7. Denise Wymore March 11, 2009 at 6:43 am #

    Andy,
    You’re right – credit unions have NEVER been good at marketing themselves. Thank you so much for this much needed kick in the butt.
    The Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Mississippi league are running a campaign called iBelong – that seeks to do exactly what you’re suggesting. EDUCATING people about credit unions. If every League in the nation would adopt this, I think we could get somewhere.
    iBelong.org – check it out and let me know what you think.