How can your credit union marketing raise awareness and safeguard members?
Consumer advocacy is a natural extension of a credit union’s mission. And, with thoughtful marketing and communications, your credit union can streamline its consumer advocacy efforts.
As the name suggests, consumer advocacy is aimed at protecting consumers and their interests. By engaging with consumer advocacy, your credit union will not only be looking out for members, but protecting its brand. Do you know how your members talk about your CU to others in the community? What about potential members? It all comes down to information.
For some time now, there has been a need in the credit union industry to better inform younger generations. As an example, in Experian’s 2017 report on the state of credit unions, 20% of CU members were identified as millennials and 1% as Gen Z. Additionally, that same report recognized a high concentration of credit union consumers in states like Utah, Alaska, Idaho, and Washington. Meanwhile, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Arkansas had a much lower concentration. So, what does this mean? For one thing, it could suggest that folks in those western states are better informed about credit unions. It could also suggest Gen Z hasn’t had enough opportunities to learn about the value of credit unions.
In marketing, it can’t be said enough to know and understand your audience. As inherently community focused organizations, credit unions may think they are ahead of the game. However, the work of listening and understanding your audience is ongoing. And it’s also a job to grow your audience, which means making sure your audience knows you. How can your credit union do both? Consumer advocacy.
Market Beyond Channels
Sometimes, when it comes to marketing and communications, the mind goes straight to the various channels. Print, digital, social media, television, and radio, etc. But while channels and platforms are important, it is also key to step back and consider messaging techniques. Were you ever part of a public speaking class? Perhaps you had to practice different types of speeches, like giving a toast for a celebratory occasion, introducing a partner to your family, or convincing someone to change their mind. You learned to tell a story, paint a picture, share just the facts, or argue a point. Were you trying to inform, entertain, or persuade?
Now, think about what marketing and communications accomplish depending on the reason and setting. Sometimes, the occasion calls for a celebration. Other times, the occasion requires just the facts. There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to marketing. Each direction can be a powerful mechanism if deployed correctly. What works well is having a variety of messaging to choose from and deliver.
Information to Engage Members
Why do people need to be educated about what credit unions are and how they operate? To close the information gap. In other words, people only know what they know. Additionally, informing and looking out for consumers is a perfect fit for CUs. While other industries may think of consumer advocacy as a change from day-to-day operations, it’s natural to credit unions. It’s all about a focus on the customer’s needs and pitch-perfect customer service.
So, by formally adding consumer advocacy to your credit union marketing plans, you round out your communications strategy. Consumer advocacy is perhaps less direct and persuasive than passionate promotions. But it presents the facts and informs about the value of credit unions, looking out for consumers along the way. In doing so, your credit union’s consumer advocacy communications demonstrate to consumers that your CU has their best interests at heart.
This isn’t limited to individual CUs either. For example, the Cooperative Credit Union Association’s “Better Values. Better Banking.” campaign relies on multi-channel storytelling to raise awareness for CUs and their missions. Not only does the campaign convey the values of the credit union model, but it has also helped protect senior consumers from financial scams and strengthened community partnerships.
What consumer advocacy campaigns would you run? Depends on where you see a need to inform. Ultimately, consumer advocacy is about appreciating your members (and, potentially, future members). When you give people the right information, you empower them to make smart choices.
Consumer Advocacy Meets Advocacy Marketing
While consumer advocacy starts inside your credit union, advocacy marketing is something else. However, both emphasize the power of getting people talking in the community—in a good way. Additionally, they can work together. After all, positivity breeds positivity. If you are looking out for members and informing the community, they will hopefully return the favor.
Take word-of-mouth advertising. From your own personal experience, you likely understand the power of a recommendation or review. Capitalizing on positive information and reviews could help you further drive membership and audience engagement. Whereas consumer advocacy focuses on the overall strengths of credit unions, discovering your personal CU advocates highlights what is special about your particular location. Advocacy marketing can help your credit union brand develop, because it puts a spotlight on what you do well. Of course, your credit union is a member-focused organization. But perhaps it is also specifically good at serving teachers, educating youth, or supporting emerging small businesses.
When your members speak up about what makes your credit union special, your brand stays relevant. Additionally, focusing on the unique helps carve out and master your CU niche. Not to mention, such authentic marketing can also help attract younger members.
Engagement Ideas For Your Credit Union
How can CUs reward members and show them some love? Simply put, by keeping the focus on members. Consumer advocacy is an extension of this. When credit unions and credit union organizations look out for members on the larger scale, they demonstrate care and compassion. It’s about engaging beyond the day-to-day marketing of what’s happening at your CU and thinking big.
Community, education, and financial protection are all relevant to your credit union. So, consider how you can add a focus in your communications. Host a community scholarship. Run a campaign simply focused on cybersecurity. Encourage socially responsible interactions. Start a hotline for community questions.
Consumer advocacy is about stepping up to care for others. Make consumer advocacy part of your credit union marketing to ensure the focus never strays from providing for your community.