Thursday, December 29, 2011

Seven Ways to Change Your 2012 Business Landscape

By John Blom and Margie Church

At this time last year, many CUs were idled back, waiting for the New Year to reveal which direction to take. Many CUs wouldn't put a stake in the ground and chart their own course. They had their budgets and ideas under lock and key. In a down economy, we can understand a conservative approach, but doing nothing puts a business in perpetual reactionary mode.

If your credit union is still navigating without a rudder, we offer seven suggestions to get you moving in a forward direction right now.

1.  Do a post-mortem on 2011. Take out the white board and write down successes and failures. In simple terms, try to understand what made each item your list fall where it did. Then, try to figure out which are worth pursuing further/again in 2012.

2.  If you haven't already, create a new member program to deepen your relationship with these people. Many of them may have joined because of the November Bank Transfer Day. They could already be disillusioned if they haven't been hearing from you. Correct this now by convincing them that your friendly staff and comprehensive services are perfect for all their financial needs. Time is running short. The first six months of membership are crucial.

3.  What's your new idea for 2012? According to Callahan & Associates, credit unions that increased their marketing budgets in the second quarter of 2011 noted substantial increases in member growth and balance sheets. U.S. credit union marketing expenses increased 3.8% to reach $483 million. This was the fifth straight quarter of annual increases. Profitability will remain a key issue for CUs in 2012. Take a look at your promotions calendar and compare it to your membership profile. What can you do to make promotions fresh and more effective?

4.  Reposition specific products and services to answer a need. Are you trying to reach people aged 22 to 35? Did you know:

  • Sixty-five percent access their account information through the Internet, while 28% use a mobile application from their bank or credit union. 
  • Six percent use mobile devices to remotely deposit checks. Among those using the service, 54% use it at least once a month; 39% use it weekly. 
  • Sixty-four percent said that tracking account balances is the most important feature they currently use while banking online, followed by paying bills (34%), and transferring funds (28%). 
  • Seventy percent wish they could see their entire financial picture, and manage all of their finances in one place, regardless of the information source. 
5.  Stop talking about Gen Y and Gen X and start talking with them. They are highly connected with social media and the Internet. Be yourself. Be authentic. Give them reasons to engage with you by providing information they can use and easy ways for them to respond.

6.  Get to know your members better this year. Do something proactive to keep them, and foster younger members into becoming your most profitable members. Invite them to quarterly events, put polls on your Facebook page, or make a commitment to collect and use membership data.

7.  Identify one bad habit you're going to kick this year. Maybe it's overcoming a resistance to using email marketing. Maybe you'll start asking your member services staff for input at the front end of a campaign so more leads are converted to sales. Perhaps you'll study the performance reports from your campaigns, and finally be able to justify the expense (or not) because you know what is working and what is not. Maybe you'll stop being reactive or passive and get out in the marketplace acting and sounding like the winner you are.

The economy is improving, and interest in credit unions has never been higher. Make the best of your marketing landscape. We'd love to hear how you plan to meet 2012 head on.

Pinpoint Direct Marketing exclusively serves the U.S. credit union market. We provide excellent, turnkey or a' la carte creative services at a great value. Click to learn more.

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