most people have no idea whether your rate really is a better rate

Five messages that matter more than rate

We’ve all seen them, and we’ve all written, designed and/or published them. Yes, I’m talking about loan promotions featuring a gigantic rate and little else.

Here’s a little secret — most people have no idea whether your rate really is a better rate.

The good news is that there are lots of things that matter more than rates. Build your next loan promotion around a different message, such as:


It’s sometimes hard for CU people to remember that applying for a loan is a huge, frightening risk of rejection for many people. In fact, people with excellent credit are especially terrified — “what if I’m not as good as I think I am?”

Messages of safety, respect, caring, trust, flexibility, acceptance, and inclusion resonate — “ABC FCU members always get a great rate.”, “we understand — nobody’s perfect” or “Bring your bills to ABC FCU.” Testimonials can also be powerful — “ABC FCU believed in me.”

Speed and Ease

Everything the member experiences is a message. Back up claims of fast, friendly service with procedures and policies that make it happen.

For example, every added blank on your loan application reduces response rates. A multipage form full of fine print and nosy questions poses another serious risk — for every potential of being turned away, many qualified members won’t bother to apply.

“Mini-apps” are one way to start the loan process with just a few simple questions. Extended hours, fast loan decisions, and online applications also carry the message of speed and ease.


Ever wonder why so many of your members just settle for whatever financing the dealer pushes them into? It’s partly safety — they let the dealer handle potential rejection for them, and find another willing lender if they strike out — but it’s mostly pure convenience. The member just wants to drive their shiny new car ASAP. Signing the pre-filled form on the dotted line is the most convenient way to get the keys.

A message of convenience (along with speed and ease above) is a great way to capture more of these loans. For example, you could tout a mortgage officer that will come to your home or office, or promote getting pre-approved to make buying a car or home more convenient.

Added value, such as “one-stop shopping” is another powerful aspect of convenience. This might be a car buying service, breakdown warranties, offering to help the member pay off bills and credit cards, online banking, or biweekly payments.

You’re getting a great deal

One of the best feelings as a consumer is the feeling that you made a smart decision and got a great deal. Fortunately, this feeling is pretty easy to come by at a credit union!

But the key to loyalty is to tie this message to the credit union rather than a one-time special — “you’ll always get a great rate at ABC FCU” is a much better place to be than “limited time special low rate just this once…”

We’ll help you get out of debt

Perhaps it’s a bit counter-intuitive, but financing or refinancing with a credit union is a big first step toward making progress on debt. Messages such as “pay it off sooner”, “consolidate your bills”, or “one lower payment” are another way of showing how the credit union promotes financial responsibility.

Lower rates can also make shorter terms possible — what if you could offer 54 month car loans with payments close to the competition’s 60 month loans? “You own it six months sooner!”

Brian Wringer

Email this article to a friend or coworker.