Sales & Marketing Become Priorities in 2012

(Originally published on – Feb. 3, 2012)

I recently read the “Insights into 2012” white paper that was published by Abound Resources.  The study deals with the insights and priorities of senior management at credit unions across the nation.  This is not a review of that paper; however, I wanted to take the opportunity to give my viewpoint on one aspect of the study.

I was pleased to see that 57% of CEO’s said that improving sales and marketing will be a top priority for them in 2012.   FINALLY!  As some of you may know, I have been a steadfast advocate for credit union sales, marketing, and business development for a while now.  Put simply – a credit union cannot and will not grow if there is no investment in its sales and marketing platforms.  Think about it – how can you expect to grow if you are not marketing your services to your members and potential members?  But there is a dangerous trend in our industry.  Namely, when budgets get tight, one of the first areas to be affected is marketing.  In most credit unions, marketing is usually one of the budget line items that has the highest numbers.  So, it’s easiest to just slash that number.

But as many credit union CEO’s are finding out (based on the survey result mentioned above) blindly cutting the marketing budget without taking into account the consequences that surely follow is not only dangerous but it’s also unwise.

A related area of major concern (that the white paper also points out) is the anti-sales culture that still exists in many credit unions.  There are still way too many credit unions and credit union employees that do not seem at all interested in selling anything in any way.  There are some credit unions that have implemented cross-selling programs but in order to get their employees onboard, they have had to come up with clever nicknames for their programs that do not include the word “sales” or any of its derivatives in any way.  I can imagine countless hours being spent in management meetings coming up with these clever names.  Imagine if those precious hours were spent on training and development instead of a silly endeavor to avoid calling the sales process what it is.

Perhaps the tide is changing.  Perhaps credit union senior management is warming up to the fact that selling and marketing are both critical components of a credit union’s strategic plan.  Perhaps they are realizing that buying expensive technology (mobile banking, MCIF, etc.) will not produce the desired results if the credit union’s employees are not properly trained, compensated, and motivated to sell and market those services. Perhaps they are beginning to see that cross-selling and aggressive marketing do not have to be intrusive or pushy in order to be effective.

I hope this renewed interest on the part of credit union senior management continues.  I hope that folks understand that marketing campaigns do not necessarily have to be expensive to be effective.  Finally, I am optimistic that small to mid-size credit unions understand that collaborative marketing does not have to be competitive.





About Your Full Potential, LLC

I am the President of Your Full Potential, LLC and the Founder of ABSURD! Leadership. I am a professional speaker and have addressed thousands of people throughout the United States and internationally on the topics of leadership, sales, service, business development, marketing, and strategy.
This entry was posted in Building Relationships, Business Development, Credit Unions, Cross-Selling, Management, Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Sales & Marketing Become Priorities in 2012

  1. Matt Hodson says:

    This is great news! Only that I am not seeing that in my own credit union. I am still expected to do more with even less and while I am making it work, it is putting undue stress on me and affecting the quality of the work. Since I started here the marketing budget has almost been cut in half, which does not make for a large budget when it starts out under $100K.

    Hopefully I see this trend as well. I could use a little wiggle room. Thanks for always fighting for us Sean. 😉


  2. Kenny Lewis says:

    The problem confronting credit unions is that so many CEO’s are incredibly gifted when it comes to investments and managing the bottom line but are clueless when it comes to marketing. They can continually manage costs but are slack jawed when those moves don’t translate to increases in members and assets. Most, in my experience, do not understand the cause and effect of strategic marketing. When you tell them that marketing is the growth engine, by and large, you get blank stares. Most of us in marketing understand that loans are the life blood of credit unions. We understand that successful loan initiatives don’t just happen. They are the result of a great creative marketing concept and implementation. CEO’s, for the most part, don’t get it. They don’t need to get marketing. They just need to get the fact that marketing, when done well, provides growth, reinforces the brand and separates the credit union from the herd of financial providers in their service area. And finally, they should be informed but not involved in marketing concepts and creative strategies. There is nothing worse than a numbers person thinking that they are a creative.


    • Thanks for your feedback, Kenny. I think the report showed that more credit union CEO’s are realizing the importance of the marketing and business development functions. I also think it is incumbent upon marketing and business development professionals to help their senior management understand the VALUE that they bring to the table. We do this by our PASSION, ENTHUSIASM, CREATIVITY, and KNOWLEDGE.


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