Thought Leadership

Three Ways to Grow Your Credit Union Membership

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November 7, 2018
Three Ways to Grow Your Credit Union Membership
By Bryan Adler

Your credit union has a lot to offer that other financial institutions can’t. But despite boons such as lower rates, lower fees, and outstanding member service, some people are reluctant to join, or aren’t aware they have the option to. Fortunately, you have several good opportunities to help grow your credit union’s membership.

Each avenue for growth requires a little investment, but as investments do, it’ll pay dividends in the future. So, without further ado…

Let’s Get Digital, Digital

One of the most annoying things on the internet—outside of Harlem Shake videos—are the thousands of articles and thinkpieces about millennials. Apparently, they’re lazy, entitled, industry-killing monsters. Or they’ve been given a raw deal. Or whatever.

But the truth is, it’s not just millennials. Younger generations interact with the world differently because they’ve been using computers and smartphones for most of their lives. Any strategy to grow credit union membership needs to embrace technology.

Going into a credit union to deposit a check, take out a loan, or move funds around means taking time out of one’s day to show up to the branch, wait in line, and ask an employee for help. People who work long or unpredictable hours can’t always rely on getting to their branch during operating hours.

So, maybe younger generations are lazy, or maybe they’re very busy—either way, they want the same functionality as their branch, but on a digital interface. That way, they can manage their money when they want, where they want, on an intuitive mobile platform (whether they’re in socks and pajamas or still stuck at work).

Embracing proven or new, digital-forward, member-facing apps or services can help attract new credit union membership.

Financial Planning and Wealth Management

Younger generations are aware that sound financial planning and wealth management are paramount to a healthy future. However, their options for increased financial literacy often come from massive banks who may not have their best interests at heart, or from the internet, which—and we say this only half in jest—often has nobody’s best interests at heart.

Your credit union can distinguish itself by offering educational offerings and outreach. Helping younger generations establish budgets, saving goals, and grow their wealth will establish trust. Trust means loyalty. And loyalty—for generations who crowdsource advice ranging from what to make for dinner, which streaming media subscription service to try, or which credit card to use—means word of mouth endorsements.

Ensuring a financially literate and healthy member base is a great way to retain existing members while also attracting new ones.

Going into a credit union to deposit a check, take out a loan, or move funds around means taking time out of one’s day to show up to the branch, wait in line, and ask an employee for help. People who work long or unpredictable hours can’t always rely on getting to their branch during operating hours.

Increase Your Visibility

One of the most tried-and-true methods of growing your credit union’s membership is just by getting the word out. It may sound wild to those of us who work in and around the industry, but there are people in the United States who don’t know what a credit union is, what they offer, or how to join one. Gaining increased exposure to your target markets will always help attract new members.

Advertisement is costly, but effective. Traditional routes like television or newspaper ads can help with visibility, as do billboards or bench signage. Digitally-focused avenues such as email campaigns, content marketing, and a strong social media presence may help engage more tech-savvy prospects.

Another emerging avenue is to work with a company that can leverage big data to better identify, target, and engage potential members. By zeroing in on qualified, already-interested prospects, you may see a higher return on investment for your advertising dollar. Sure, there’s plenty of fish in the sea, but it never hurts to know where to cast your net.

Other Strategies

We cannot speak to the efficacy of, nor can we recommend the use of vision boards, black magic, or bargains with demonic entities to grow membership at your credit union. Please exercise caution when exploring other strategies.

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