small CUs have a secret weapon

How small credit unions can start thinking big

Small credit unions have a special set of marketing and brand challenges. Budget and time limitations are pretty obvious, and keeping up with technology is always challenging.

If you’re a one-person marketing department, or even a part-time marketer wearing a few other hats, here’s how to start thinking about your growth strategy, marketing, and brand like a larger credit union.

Develop an investment mindset

Large CUs see marketing, websites, and brand as smart investments with a great rate of return, not expenses to be slashed.

Flip the usual script from “how cheap can we do this” to “how can we make this even better?” “Can we spend a little more to get a lot more?”

It’s also important to invest for the long term. Large CUs invest for the future in tech, websites, marketing, and meaningful brand work.

Ditch DIY disease

Say it after me: “I don’t have to do everything myself.” Now repeat that until you believe it. You deserve to sleep sometimes. Your job is to direct the show, not run around playing every part.

Big credit unions (and the smartest pipsqeaks) lean on expert vendors (like iDiz Inc.) to help them build a strategy that works and to make everything happen.

You’ll sprout a lot fewer gray hairs when you delegate to trusted partners and leverage automation to make the most of your time. Productive professional relationships help you leverage your sanity, time, and cash.

Stop settling

This is sometimes the biggest change in mindset. The size of a credit union shouldn’t have anything to do with the quality of the strategy, ideas, products and creative work you put in front of your members. Quality matters.

Your website can and should look and feel world-class, not homemade. Your emails and direct mail have to be unique, locally relevant, and interesting, not cookie-cutter stuff with generic stock photos.

Your competition isn’t the sleepy little regional bank down the street; it’s giants like Chase, BOA, Citi, and Ally. Think on that level.

Branding isn’t a luxury

You simply can’t thrive and grow without a solid understanding of your brand, who you are and what you mean to your members. You have to understand and be able to communicate and live your vital difference consciously and mindfully.

But the good news is that small CUs have a secret weapon.

You have a close connection to your members’ lives and a unique purpose and culture that the $500 million gorillas can’t duplicate. That kind of differentiation is pure marketing plutonium.

But it can be pretty hard to see your strengths from inside the jar. That’s why it’s important to get an outside perspective and be ready to put some resources into understanding and articulating your brand and brand strategy.

Brian Wringer

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