Competing against large, national banks’ seemingly endless marketing budgets and strong brand recognition for consumer market share continues to be a primary focus for credit unions. With all the marketing noise out there, getting the attention of prospective members can be a daunting task. In fact, many organizations either put marketing and PR on the backburner or completely eliminate it from their business plan altogether. Doing so is dangerous.
Successfully winning over new members requires strategic planning and a solid public relations program with an emphasis on thought leadership articles and blogs, media relations and member testimonials.
It is critical that credit unions position themselves as thought leaders within their communities and the financial industry. When looking for a financial institution, consumers tend to prioritize the ones that share their values and provide trustworthy financial education and guidance. Positioning your credit union as a thought leader in these areas will help attract new members to your credit union.
It is also critical to be viewed as an expert. If your credit union seeks to be a leading provider of mortgages for military families or competitive loans for famers needing agricultural machinery, be seen commenting on issues that affect these groups. Publish articles and blogs that discuss the issues important to existing and prospective members.
Often times, organizations will distribute a press release here and there with the hopes it will result in substantial coverage and visibility. This simply isn’t the case. Instead, credit unions must build relationships with reporters and editors to intelligently integrate their needs with the media’s needs. This will ultimately position your credit union as a trusted resource and thought leader, thus maximizing media coverage.
Remember, being recognized as a thought leader by reporters is the gateway to being recognized as one by prospective members. Reporters are the key that enable your credit union to offer your perspective on the issues affecting your members. To build rapport with reporters within your community, you must be an available and reliable source as well as add valuable insight into the issues they’re covering.
Let’s face it – consumer reviews are significantly more trusted than information directly from the organization, including financial institutions. In fact, nearly 12 times more, according to eMarketer. This is why member testimonials are so important to acquiring new members.
As part of a PR strategy, credit unions must incorporate reviews from other members and share them either through social media, their website, blog, etc. Additionally, credit unions should identify unique member stories that may be of interest to a local reporter. Telling the story of how a member of the community worked with their credit union to improve their financial well-being, for example, can go a long way.
Combining the elements of thought leadership, media relations and member testimonials into an on-going PR program will ultimately help credit unions build trust within the community and with potential members. Success doesn’t always mean spending big bucks on marketing and advertising. In fact, long-term success comes from a highly strategic initiative that not only builds awareness and increases visibility, but positions a credit union as a trusted organization within its community. This is key to increasing membership.