A big part of what we do is help our clients become heroes.

Helping the not-so-ideal credit union marketer

In my last article, I outlined the attributes of the Ideal Credit Union Marketer — an empowered, invaluable, brand-savvy communication dynamo coordinating a turbocharged marketing engine that powers record growth.

Let’s face it — that kind of perfection could be kind of annoying. And out here in the real world, the Ideal CU Marketer doesn’t exist — although we’ve worked with a few who come close.

The truth is, every CU marketer, even the very best, has several of the following “not-so-ideal” attributes. A big part of what we do is help figure out what challenges our clients are facing, and help them become heroes.

Lost in the trees, forgot all about the forest

A marketer’s job is to help the credit union grow. That requires devising, revising, and carrying out a clear, long-term strategy. It’s sooooo easy to get bogged down in the details of planning and executing and forget all about where the heck you’re going and why.

  • Unclear or nonexistent strategic planning, no clear connection to CU’s overall financial plan.
  • Confuses branding with identity (Our brand? Look at this cool logo!).
  • Confuses “message” with “tag line”.
  • Thinking based on projects or promotions rather than overall positioning and strategy — every project starts over from scratch.
  • Unable to stick with a strategic plan or even a consistent brand identity (But I’m so booooooored already — change everything!)

Planning perils

  • Wingin’ it — no marketing plan, no strategy at all.
  • Planning paralysis — spends months crafting the perfect plan, yet taking no action.
  • Undocumented – marketing plan gets written every year, and then gets ignored.
  • Inflexible – marketing plan is the Final Word and the Law Everlasting, and Thou Shalt Not change The Plan.
  • Budgeting based on “oh, whatever we spent last year”.
  • Budgeting based on “oh, whatever we spent last year” minus 10%.
  • Budgeting via dartboard “oh, I like to spread things around”.

Environmental disasters

Every marketer has to deal with some aspect of their environment that’s counterproductive. It may be organizational, or it may be fellow management, or even the Board. You can’t market effectively without access to the resources and respect needed, so savvy marketers have to learn to work around organizational obstacles.

  • Wearing waaay too many hats — “VP Marketing/Branch Operations/HR”, or “SVP” Marketing/IT/Facilities/Operations/Lending/HR/Special Projects”.
  • Low-level title, marketing shut out of upper management decisions.
  • Problems getting access to demographic data, no access to results (no MCIF, system outdated, IT issues).
  • Problems interacting with CEO/management and/or Board.
  • No influence or input into products — required to sell whatever the CU has to offer.
  • Little to no authority – unable to approve anything or spend money without consulting the CEO/CFO/Board, etc.
  • CEO insists on proofreading everything…

Knowledge gap

Sure, the “soft side” of marketing is a lot of fun, but sometimes CU marketers could stand to be a little more versed in the numbers and regulations that make CUs work.

  • Lacks working knowledge of marketing regulations — unable to negotiate with Compliance Officer.
  • Lacks working knowledge of CU financial fundamentals and financial goals.
  • Unable/unwilling to calculate ROI.
  • Doesn’t know the basic numbers for their CU — how much income an average auto loan generates, services per member, what a checking account costs, major ratios, etc.
  • Unable to read a Call Report.
  • Cannot or does not participate in ALM, Rate, or Board meetings.


Better than not-so-ideal? See if you match up: “Building the ideal credit union marketer”


Brian Wringer

Email this article to a friend or coworker.