Monsters are problems that keep you from growing.

CU Budgets in Strange Days: Put Your Money Where Your Monsters Are

You can’t just build a CU budget for your marketing and website based on “oh, whatever we did last year“, and that goes double when times are getting Strange.*

*(In last week’s article, we pointed out that strange days and weird times are here, and things are only going to get Weirder in 2020.)

Fortunately, this is also exactly what credit unions are made for. There’s a lot of opportunity in chaos, but you’ll need to make smart investments to retain and grow your place in your members’ hearts and minds.

Snuggle up to your monsters

Monsters are problems that keep you from growing. Some monsters may be small, and something you run into all of the time. Other monsters may be huge, lurking in the shadows, just around the next corner.

But now is the time to be brave. Build a CU budget that lets you deal with your current monster problems, as well as those scary future monsters.

Do you need to beef up your loan marketing and processes to capture greater market share? Or maybe the “Member Aging Monster” is starting to rear his graying head – what will you need to shift to do a better job of attracting and retaining younger members?

Ponder some specific worst-case (or at least bad-case) scenarios, and a few best-case scenarios, too: What if a large local employer goes out of business? What if new car sales in your area take a big slide? What if a local factory needs to triple production suddenly? What if a feisty new internet start-up starts poaching more and more of your loans? What are you going to do if there’s a big spike in deposits from members seeking safety?

Run through the realistic scenarios and remember that change is always an opportunity to improve. Changes and challenges also give you a lot more incentive to rethink and re-tool vs. the same-old, same-old.

Look for strange monsters in strange places

Explore some unconventional questions. Like wallet share – how many of your members have accounts, loans, credit cards, etc. somewhere else? Why? What would get them to move everything to your CU?

Or, for example, how many folks in your area are using payday lenders or pawn shops? What can you offer them to help them get through life and break out of the cycle?

How many members are moving money with PayPal or the Cash app? How many are using Square to accept credit cards for their “side gig”? I bet some of your members are gamers streaming on Twitch or YouTube. Ask them how you might make their financial lives easier in this “new economy”.

Comfort zones are for sissies

You’ll notice I’m not just talking about marketing spend, media budgets, and such. Now more than ever, marketers need to be silo-busters. Brand advocates are member advocates, and have to take responsibility for the entire experience. Go ahead, get nosy.

For example, if your brand is trying to say “high tech” but your website says “1999” and your loan app says “1950”, it’s going to take a coordinated effort across departments to get everything singing “2020”.

There are a lot of “comfort zones” buried in budgets, too. For example, lots of credit unions are still printing and mailing dead tree newsletters, or tucking them into mailed statements. Why not move those resources online? Instead of slapping ink and paper together every month or quarter, you could put the same money and time into a killer blog, with lots of personality, more relevant and current articles, more frequent updates, more social media juice, and more ways for members to interact.

You are what you spend

In other words, take a good hard look at whether your budget matches your brand. Does what you really do and value line up with what you say you do and value?

A strong brand must, above all, be authentic. It’s about a lot more than money; how much time, attention, control, passion and engagement are you budgeting? How do you make tough choices? Where does that need to change next year? And how can you get more impact out of what you do spend?

Get professional help

At the risk of sounding self-serving, I’ll point out that strange times are the best times to take advantage of experts like us at iDiz Inc. We’ve worked with hundreds of CUs all over the country to solve all kinds of problems.

Whatever weird monsters are on your horizon, we’ve probably seen them before, and are happy to help you take a fresh look to make the most of your budget and leverage your time, and energy.

Brian Wringer

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