“I love my bank. Because it’s not a bank!” That’s what I saw as I was driving down a street less than 2 blocks from my home a few days ago. That phrase was on a billboard and as I looked closer, I found out that it was my good friends at the New Jersey Credit Union League who put it there.
The NJCUL has been focusing on an effort to increase awareness of credit unions among the more than 8 million people who call New Jersey home. The complete campaign is called “NJ Credit Unions: Banking You Can Trust.” Some 1.2 million NJ residents are already credit union members. The hope is that as more people become educated on what credit unions offer, the number of NJ credit union members will increase. Of course, the recent consumer anger at big bank fees has helped a bit. An article in NJ’s largest daily newspaper, The Star Ledger, indicated that membership numbers are indeed increasing at NJ credit unions.
The NJ Credit Union League isn’t the only one to run an awareness campaign. The Maine Credit Union League’s campaign ran throughout 2011 and is called “Look Into Maine’s Credit Unions. You’ll Like What You See.”
In Michigan, the credit union league ran a multi-million dollar TV and radio campaign using the tagline, “Own Your Money. Join A Credit Union.”
My point is that state leagues and associations are taking steps to ensure the vitality and growth of credit unions. Some campaigns are more “blunt” than others in their messages and language. Many leagues, like NJ’s, offer individual credit unions to participate in an ad-coop to help fund the awareness campaign.
Here are some steps that individual credit unions can take to build upon the momentum that currently exists:
- Participate in your League’s or Association’s ad co-op.
- Realize that November 5’ “Bank Transfer Day” was just the beginning!
- Increase your advertising budget for 2012.
- Get your most creative staff members in a room. Have them brainstorm and come up with ideas for innovative and attractive products and services.
- Invest in current technology.
- Use social media. 90% of credit unions are expected to be on Twitter in 2012. Don’t be part of the 10% that isn’t.
Finally, just because some of the banks reversed course and cancelled plans to impose debit card fees, that does NOT mean they won’t find other ways to nickel and dime customers. Don’t believe me? Here’s a direct quote from an article that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times: “to make up lost revenue, banks look for income that flies under the radar.”
You better believe it!