It's too easy to believe that everyone knows who you are.

Most of the world has no idea who you are.

Credit unions, I hate to be the one to break this to you, but most of the world has no idea who you are.

That may be a surprise to you since you live in the CUniverse. When immersed in the credit union culture, when you deal with the same coworkers and members most of the time, it’s too easy to believe that everyone knows who you are, what you do, and what makes you the better financial option for most people.

Get out of that comfort zone though, and you’ll likely find that you aren’t even on everyone’s radar.

One of our single-SEG CU clients recently surveyed passers-by on the campus they have shared for 60 years. They were surprised at how many new(ish) employees either didn’t know the CU existed, or if they did, just how little was known about what they offered.

We weren’t surprised, as most of our clients have had similar results in surveys. Besides, this is not something unusual that only credit unions have to deal with.*

In fact, it’s part of a process that is universal for most every business, and if you ask any salesperson, they will be happy to bend your ear about the awareness > consideration > purchase journey that any customer makes.

But if you are like me, you probably prefer not to listen to a salesperson, so I’ll attempt to describe the process in potential CU member terms:

  1. Start off with the knowledge that most people are not even aware your CU exists.
  2. Once they comprehend that fact, they then have to fit that new bit of data into what they know of the world. This is typically where you get confused with their current bank, since they already have a category for that in their mind and space may be limited.**
  3. Occasionally, when they do have a reason (need a new car, a new mortgage, get ticked off at their bank because of some stupid fee), they will do a little research (Google, check out your website, ask friends) and start to form an opinion that your CU might be a good option.
  4. If they take action (apply online, visit a branch, open an account) then, Congratulations! You have a new member. Just keep in mind that this initial interaction is your primary opportunity to shape their opinion of you, positively or negatively, by how easy you make the process for them.
  5. But when they share their experience, when they recommend you to their friends, that’s when they truly know who you are.

Keep in mind that the first two steps may take months or even years, and the last three may happen all at once. A single direct mail postcard is unlikely to change anyone’s mind, so think of new member acquisition as an ongoing opportunity. Get an outsider’s perspective to help you build a brand that everyone can be proud of, that creates a culture your members will be happy to recommend.

*Other than explaining what the term “credit union” means.

**Actually, brain space is almost always limited. People usually only have one mental filing slot for “bank” and money is too important to suddenly toss out what they know for a new option.

Kent Dicken

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