Is Your Credit Union Offering Financial Vitamins…or Aspirin?

This entry was posted by Friday, 12 November, 2010
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From Christopher Morris:

Warning: This post has more metaphors than a middle school poetry contest.

Are your credit union’s product offerings just another “great” financial rate or product in a sea of many? Or are you stopping your member’s financial pain?

In the latest Fast Company magazine, Chip and Dean Heath (authors of the must-reads Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard and Made to Stick) talk eloquently about the difference between “vitamin-quality” and “aspirin-quality” products and services.  In the piece, they note that “vitamins are nice; they’re healthy. But aspirin cures your pain; it’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.” Consider the difference between a book on pregnancy for husbands (useful information, but a vitamin) and the mega best-selling book on pregnancy for women, What to Expect When You’re Expecting (definitely an aspirin).

Credit unions across the country offer a mix of financial vitamins and aspirin. In my new role at the National Credit Union Foundation, I’ve been in awe of credit unions participating in the Foundation’s REAL Solutions program. Some examples of these REAL Solutions’ aspirin-quality products or services (with links for more information):

“I was about to lose everything– totally everything. A lot of institutions turned me away. I feel like my credit union rescued me.”

-  Ora Houston, member of Wright-Patt Credit Union in Ohio

Now that’s aspirin. Credit unions like Wright-Patt are meeting the financial needs of their members in a mutually beneficial way. Are you?

Most likely, you are. But maybe you could do a better job of letting your members know that they need your “financial aspirin.” If you look at most credit union advertisements, you’ll see lots of “come check out our great rate” or “free” this or that. Financial vitamins – useful, but you need stronger medicine to survive.

For example, are you offering financial education? Market it like aspirin – most people think they know a lot about personal finance (even though they don’t). Help them realize they need to know it. Will your product save a significant amount of money compared to competitors? Tell them. How will the product ease their financial pain?

“You’ve heard the old saying ‘If you invent a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.’ Don’t bet on it. The world’s felt need isn’t for a better mousetrap. It’s for a dead mouse.”

-  Chip and Dan Heath

At a conference I was at a few weeks ago, someone said, “Don’t try to outbank the banks.”

So be a credit union. A good one. Offer financial aspirin and spread that message.

Credit unions were founded for this very purpose.

Christopher Morris is the Director of Communications for the National Credit Union Foundation.  He used to work at the CUNA Councils and was on the original CUNAverse team. You can read his previous CUNAVerse posts here.

4 Responses to “Is Your Credit Union Offering Financial Vitamins…or Aspirin?”

  1. Hi Chris! Great blog entry, as usual. May I share this in our League’s ePublication and montly newsletter? Of course, I will attribute the article to you. Thanks!

  2. Thanks Laurie! Please reprint as you see fit – the more credit unions that read it…hopefully the more will be inspired to tweak their offerings to be aspirin and then we all benefit.


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