Be Prepared: Winterize Your Credit Union Strategy

Prepping for a change in season ensures you are ready no matter the weather.

Brrr – feels like it’s time to winterize your credit union strategy and communications! What does that mean? Anyone who lives where it gets cold, cold, cold knows. This is the time of year to switch out the year-round tires for snow tires, put away the patio furniture, and add insulation where it counts. Winterizing means to adapt your space and belongings to the new season. It is critical if you hope to make it to the spring in one piece.

If you’re a homeowner, you’re likely familiar with the concept of winterizing the house. As one season begins to change into another, you know a look around the house (or car, boat, RV, or garden…) is necessary to protect your property and prepare for what comes next. It’s time to block out the cold, bring in the warmth, protect your plants, change the thermostat, and be ready. Winterizing your space can create quite the to-do list. But, if you get just a few big and small items accomplished, you’ll be looking at creating efficiencies and financial savings that will pay off.

So, working off this idea that a few key proactive steps now can create success—or avoid disaster—later, think about how you can apply “winterizing” to other aspects of life, from health and personal finances to credit union strategy. Because, in the same way you don’t want your car battery to die in the middle of a snow storm, you also don’t want to lose touch with critical members.

Start With a Seasonal Checklist

In order to look ahead, it is sometimes most helpful to look back. This time last year, what were you doing? Put it on the list. Then, think about what happened a few weeks or months later. Is there something you should have prepared for better? Put that on the list too. Taking a walk through your recent memories and experiences will help you map out what projects are priorities. It will also help identify what projects weren’t priorities in the past and if they should become priorities this year.

You likely already have a routine, or understand the rhythms of the year. Holidays, school calendars, and deadlines all shape your work. There is your credit union’s annual membership drive, Tax Day, the end of the financial calendar, and lots in between. If you are the type of person to keep these dates in your head, or add them to the calendar late, this is your opportunity to make a change.

Breaking your year into quarters and doing a little bit of planning at a time can help. Winter, spring, summer, fall—what are your goals for each quarter? If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is a good idea to work on your winterizing credit union goals with your team. Also, a project manager is a great resource when it comes to winterizing, because they know how your team works and the projects you rocked…or didn’t. Together, you can end the year strong and prepare your CU for a bright start.

What About Credit Union Goals?

Yes, it’s true—a New Year is around the corner! You might be wondering how winterizing is different than setting annual goals and resolutions. Both look ahead and aim to create a brighter future. Winterizing is a little bit more in the weeds. It’s the chopping wood and carrying water that should be done to get to that splashy goal. And, because it’s something to do now (and not January 1), it ensures you are in a good place to set that shoot-for-the-moon resolution.

So, what does your credit union want to accomplish in 2021? How can winterizing help? Think about it this way: If your personal goal for the New Year is to sell your home, there’s no way you can accomplish it easily if you haven’t put in the prep work in the waning days of 2020.

Green Typewriter on Brown Wooden Table

Here are a few examples of how winterizing credit union strategy and communications now can lead to successful goal setting later.

If your goal for later is to: Enhance email and print marketing to reach more credit union members.

You should winterize your: Contact lists. Reviewing your data to ensure you have current, working email and mailing addresses. Run a quick campaign to invite your members to update their contact information.

If your goal for later is to: Explore new social media platforms.

You should winterize your: Social media accounts. Update your passwords, review your handles across all platforms for consistency, and check to make sure your account managers have the right access.

If your goal for later is to: Refresh your branding to gain more visibility in your community.

You should winterize your: Plan of action. A brand isn’t created in a day. But you can start assembling your team and creating a survey or focus group to learn more.

Stop, It’s Checklist Time

When it comes to winterizing, the keyword here is proactive. (This will also help when it is time for your credit union strategy and marketing to be reactive!) Routine measures, check-ins, and updates can be boring, but they are necessary. What can be hard about applying a winterizing look to your credit union is that you might not know where to start. With a house, you just know which doors are drafty.

So, use this checklist to identify the problem areas—and the areas of confidence! Winterizing is a little check-in that allows you to feel proud of accomplishments, too.

  • What is in good condition? Identify what you feel confident or excited about as you survey the months ahead. Did you reach your membership goal for the year? Are you proud of the ways you’ve re-energized quiet, longtime members? Do you feel good about the ways you’ve adapted communications for a more virtual world? Give yourself a pat on the back!
  • What needs your attention? Think about what might have escaped your attention or been overlooked. Do current members need a little love as you wrap up the membership drive? A holiday print or ecard can be a small touchpoint that means a lot. Now is the time to refocus.
  • What needs to be redone or replaced? Look around for what feels outdated or simply is no longer helpful. Where are you overwhelmed or lacking? If too many people are wearing too many hats, maybe it is time to invest in people. Consider upgrading freemium accounts to premium (or cutting subscriptions that aren’t useful).

Using this checklist will help you identify the projects to tackle before the year ends. And then, don’t forget about the last item on the checklist:

  • What will be priority next month?

Winter might feel long now, but don’t get stuck in the doldrums and forget about planning for the future.

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