Archive for category Marketing

A Reflective Celebration

Posted by on Thursday, 23 August, 2012

This post originally appeared on, where CUNA regularly provides articles related to credit union topics for their CU Community page.

From Joe Day:

Members Matter Most“Members Matter Most” – it’s time to let out the secret. Working for cooperatively owned financial institutions, we all know that every action we take at our credit unions is in the direct interest of our members. This member-focused attitude is also what sets us apart from other financial institutions. On October 18, the credit union movement will celebrate International Credit Union Day® (ICU Day) and will have the chance to share our message with the world.

“Members are the focal point this year, just as they are every single day in credit unions,” said Joanne Sepich, CUNA’s ICU Day coordinator. “While credit union staff always put members first, ICU Day is an opportunity to remind members that credit unions are different by design—members are what make credit unions unique and set them apart as for-people, not-for-profit, cooperatively owned financial institutions.”

The first International Credit Union Day was established by the Credit Union League of Massachusetts in 1927. Originally “Credit Union Day” (CU Day), was established on January 17 in honor of the great “Apostle of Thrift,” Benjamin Franklin. Unfortunately, at the time when CU Day was established, the credit union movement in North America was just getting started, and it was hard to celebrate a movement most people had never heard of. Inevitably, CU Day faded away.

Twenty-one years later, in 1948, the centennial of the first credit union arrived. By then, about five million people belonged to 12,000 credit unions in the United States and Canada. Credit Union National Association (CUNA) decided that it was time to give CU Day new life this time with a national celebration set aside on the third Thursday of October. We have been celebrating ever since.

Today, credit unions and associations in every part of the world celebrate with open houses, contests, picnics, fairs, festivals and parades. Others hold athletic competitions and essay or art contests for young members. Public gatherings with visiting dignitaries have effectively attracted media attention and public involvement, as have educational and public service events.

Since ICU Day generates a lot of positive attention every year, it seems only logical that our movement will continue to grow; the reality remains an uphill challenge. Still, many members of the general public do not know what a credit union is, where their nearest credit union is located, or the advantages credit unions offer over other financial institutions.

According to CUNA’s Credit Union Environmental Scan (E-Scan) :

  • About 37% of all nonmembers are “not at all familiar” with credit unions.
  • 69% of consumers ages 18-24 claim to be “not at all familiar” with credit unions.
  • About 18% of all Americans are either unbanked or underbanked.

These trends are indeed troubling, but they are not irreversible. To help inform potential members of the financial advantages of joining a credit union and direct them to credit unions where they are eligible to join, CUNA and the leagues developed This website initiative has many features designed to help consumers make the “smarter choice” including information that details the significant differences between banks and credit unions, a credit union locator to find the nearest credit union they are eligible to join, a live feed of the most important credit union news stories and testimonials from real members on their experience with credit unions.

Together with International Credit Union Day and, we can work toward bringing to light the best kept secret in the financial services industry. As we celebrate ICU Day in October, take a moment to reflect upon not only the positive difference credit unions make around the world, but also the large number of people missing out on the party. Remember, it is never too late to start writing invitations.

How does your credit union plan to celebrate International Credit Union Day in 2012?

Joe Day

Joe Day, Director of Business Development at Credit Union National Association.

Smartphone Apps, Mobile Trends and Credit Unions

Posted by on Thursday, 31 May, 2012

Did you catch this infographic about smartphone app use on Mashable a couple of weeks ago? New research from Nielsen has revealed just how much app use has skyrocketed from 2011 to 2012. Among the findings:

  • The average number of apps per smartphone has increased from 32 to 41.
  • Time spent on apps vs. the Web has jumped from 73% to 81%.
  • The number of Android and iOS users has taken a huge leap, from 38 million to 84 million.

How do these findings affect the credit union industry? Some CU-specific research provides more insight into the increase in smartphone app and mobile use and the implications this has for credit unions.

According to the “Measuring Social Media Success in Credit Unions” report from the Filene Research Institute:

  • Overall, 15.5% of credit unions report that they have developed a smartphone app.
  • About 21.3% of credit unions that use social media use smartphone apps.
  • App use has increased throughout the year, with 13.9% of all credit unions developing apps.

And from CUNA’s 2012-2013 Credit Union Environmental Scan (E-Scan) Report:

  • More consumers will use mobile devices to obtain loans, particularly younger members. The average age of a credit union member is 47, but the average age of users of CUNA Mutual’s Smartphone Loan technology is 29. In addition, completion rates for CUNA Mutual’s mobile loan application are more than 50%, compared to 40% to 50% for all Internet loan applications.
  • In a survey of 450 credit union CEOs and senior executives, 48% listed mobile banking as one of their top tech projects for 2012. In addition, 39% prioritized mobile payments.
  • While mobile payment transactions already total $240 billion annually, the market is expected to double or triple in the next five years, according to Juniper Research. By 2013, one in five cellphones worldwide will use near field communication (NFC) technology; by 2014, Google estimates that 50% of cellphones will use NFC technology.

It’s clear that mobile technology is booming, and an increasing number of credit unions are diving into the world of smartphone applications, mobile lending and mobile payments. Is your credit union developing new mobile technology or experiencing success with mobile tools? Let us know in the comments!

Yes, You Can Use Pinterest for Your Credit Union

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 February, 2012

This post was originally published on

To pin or not to pin? As the popularity of Pinterest continues to grow, that is the question many credit union professionals are starting to ask.

If you’re not already familiar with the website, here’s a quick rundown: Pinterest is a social bookmarking website that allows you to collect—or “pin”—content from around the Web to personalized pinboards. The usefulness for credit unions might not be immediately apparent. After all, Pinterest is practically tailor-made for brands that specialize in fashion, cooking, housewares, and other visually oriented pursuits.

So do credit unions really have a place on Pinterest? I would argue that they do—if you give some deeper thought to your current and prospective members’ motivation before diving in.

But first, let’s talk about some statistics. In terms of numbers, it making more and more sense to have a presence on Pinterest because that’s where the Web users are. Check out these insights compiled by Monetate, a provider of digital marketing and optimization tools:

  • Estimated unique visitors to Pinterest increased by 329% from September to December 2011.
  • Pinterest is now driving more Web traffic than Google+.
  • The top five tips for using Pinterest include promoting a lifestyle, using it as a focus group, crowdsourcing, running contests, and inspiring your team.

So what are some specific ways that credit unions can start pinning? The key is to tap into the goals of members, and show them how your credit union can play a vital role in helping them achieve those goals.

Think about it like this: Users typically use their boards as future inspiration. They might pin images of new cars, dream kitchens, vacation destinations, or splurge-worthy shoes. Do you notice a pattern here? Your credit union can help members work toward all of these goals. You just have to position yourself on Pinterest as their biggest financial adviser and cheerleader. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Create a collaborative pinboard of potential savings goals, and invite other users to become contributors. Encourage them to pin content related to whatever they want to save money for, and offer advice and feedback through comments.
  • Lots of pinners use Pinterest to find creative ideas for kids. Try creating a pinboard that focuses on projects or activities that teach children about money. Or, for something more lighthearted, create a pinboard dedicated to something quirky, like unique piggy banks. A quick Web search should reveal lots of fun images worth pinning.
  • Use pins to direct members to specific areas of your website. But make sure you’re actually sharing content that will genuinely interest members. For instance, does your credit union maintain a blog or write articles for members? Pin attention-grabbing images or infographics that link back to your content.

As with any form of social media, getting started with Pinterest might be a trial-and-error process at first—and that’s perfectly okay. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches and strategies to find what works best for your followers.

Have you started using Pinterest for your credit union? Share your experience with a comment!

Free Resources Your Credit Union Can Use for International Credit Union Day

Posted by on Thursday, 20 October, 2011

Happy International Credit Union Day to one and all!2011 ICU Day

As we’ve mentioned here, here, and here ICU Day is celebrated across the globe throughout the credit union community and is a great way to promote the credit union difference, especially in today’s economic climate. To help celebrate, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight ICU Day resources to help your credit union share the message.

Feel free to select some or all of these and share with your members and staff via Twitter, Facebook, email and even on your credit union’s website! And don’t forget to leave a comment about how your credit union is using these resources or other ways you are celebrating International Credit Union Day.

Cheney video for CU staff

We shared the video message from CUNA’s CEO Bill Cheney to credit union members the other day. Credit unions and CU organizations responded by posting the video on their websites and sharing with their members. Now we’d like to share Mr. Cheney’s ICU Day video greeting for credit union staff! Be sure to share this with your staff.








Young & Free videos

Young & Free spokesters from across North America created some awesome videos to help spread the word about International Credit Union Day. They set the following six credit union attributes to music:

  1. Membership is open to all
  2. Members call the shots
  3. Rates and fees should benefit members
  4. Credit unions are just as accessible as banks
  5. Financial education should be free and available to all
  6. Giving back to the community is a priority

How cool is that? The music videos include an orignal rap, a Lady Gaga tribute, and a sweet Journey-inspired tune:






















Article for your Baby Boomer members from Plan It

The credit union financial education site aimed at Boomers preparing for retirement has their own article covering International Credit Union Day. You can learn more about Plan It here. Be sure to check out the following example of a credit union using Plan It to share this positive message with their members:








The Disclosures music video: Building a Better World

Our friends Christopher Morris and Chad Helminak of The Disclosures pay tribute to International Credit Union Day with their song and music video Building a Better World. What’s really cool is that The Disclosures recruited credit union employees from across the nation to supply video clips of credit union people singing portions of the song!

The band is encouraging credit unions and friends of credit unions to share the song to raise awareness of the positive impact credit unions have around the world.








Article to share with your Gen Y members from MoneyMix

MoneyMix, the Gen Y personal finance site for credit unions, has an excellent article about International Credit Union Day. Subscribers have been sharing this article via Twitter. Check out the article here and don’t forget to learn more about MoneyMix here.








The International Credit Union Day Facebook page

Have you visited or “liked” the International Credit Union Day Facebook page? If not, you should! You’ll get updates about ICU Day from WOCCU, CUNA, and other credit union organizations you can share with your members through Facebook, Twitter, on your credit union website, or through email!




The Connection Between Commander Adama and Credit Unions

Posted by on Wednesday, 5 October, 2011

If you are a fan of science-fiction and a fellow thirty-something, then you will remember growing up with Battlestar Galactica (1978-1979).  For me it was a staple of TV viewing, along with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Kung-Fu, and WGN’s Family Classics.

Lorne Green as Commander Adama

Lorne Greene as Adama

What I didn’t know until recently is that Commandar Adama–the wise leader of a wayward band of people who lost their home world to war and search for the “lost” planet, Earth–had ties to credit unions.  Well, I guess Commander Adama may not have…I don’t have any evidence of that.

But Lorne Greene, the actor who played Commander Adama, did have ties to the credit union movement.  One might even say, the credit union movement helped launch the American career of Lorne Greene.

In 1954, Lorne Greene was tapped to record advertising for credit unions in Canada.  The special Credit Union Show—a 5-minute advertising program was broadcast across Canada and into the United States.

The February 1954 edition of the publication The Credit Union Bridge noted these advertisements as being Lorne Greene’s U.S. radio debut, as “many listeners in the United States are hearing Lorne Greene for the first time” (p. 15).

After debuting in the U.S., Lorne Greene would go on to play Ben Cartwright in the television western Bonanza, Commander Adama in the aforementioned series Battlestar Galactica, and would have a distinguished career in television and film.


Lorne Greene

International Credit Union Day – How Will You Celebrate? [CONTEST]

Posted by on Thursday, 29 September, 2011

2011 ICU DayThe third Thursday every October has marked International Credit Union Day each year since 1948. On this day, credit unions around the world celebrate their impact locally and abroad as not-for-profit financial cooperatives.

Why do they do this? Because credit unions from Philadelphia to the Philippines participate in a global financial cooperative movement with a unique structure and shared principles. With these, credit unions have the power to change people’s lives and are set apart from all other financial institutions.

It’s important for credit unions to celebrate this credit union difference during International Credit Union Day, especially during the current economic climate. Doing so reaffirms the positive impact of people helping people and introduces why credit unions are different from other financial institutions to those unfamiliar.

Service 1st Federal Credit Union in Danville, PA

Service 1st Federal Credit Union in Danville, PA planned a full week of community service projects to celebrate 2010’s International Credit Union Week.

CUNA is proud to promote International Credit Union Day and support credit union celebrations–both large and small–across the United States. There are many examples of how credit unions have shared this event with their members and their community and dozens of ideas for how to host your own celebration.

For example, a recent News Now article highlighted the 2011 plans for South Dakota’s East River FCU and Stage Employees FCU in Las Vegas.

Stage Employees FCU members service representative Colleen Hermann shared in the article how even a tight budget won’t stop her credit union from using signage and small giveaways to tie her credit union to the larger cooperative celebration.

Mechelle Johnson, President/CEO of East River FCU explained in the article how they plan to use International Credit Union Day as an opportunity to thank members with a shred-it day and an open house, communicate the credit union difference with activity books and t-shirt giveaways, and help their community through a canned food drive.

We want to know: how does your credit union plan to celebrate?

Share your celebration plans by September 30 by either commenting on this post, posting to the ICU Day Facebook page or send your plans to and you’ll be entered to win a free ICU Day Celebration kit, a $198 value! Remember to include copies of promotional materials and photos of decorations and staff in their ICU Day finest.

Celebration Kit Includes:


ICU Day 2011 promo materials



  • Large posters (5) to decorate the branch
  • Stuffer/brochures (500) to explain the credit union difference and introduce 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC)
  • Skittles (1 case of 250 packets) to treat members on Oct. 20
  • Tattoos (1 bundle of 200) to reward young ones making deposits during Oct. and the 2012 IYC

The winner will be announced Oct. 4 on Facebook and Oct. 5 in the free ICU Day Update e-newsletter (sign up today)

If you’ve already shared your plans…GREAT! Then you’re already entered.

Thank you for helping to show credit union members around the country how credit unions build a better world!

Building a SM presence at #ACUC11, one plank at a time

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 June, 2011

Social Media presence isn’t easy and building momentum for its use at a national conference can be a challenge, however it planked our expectation this year at CUNA’s ACUC (America’s Credit Union Conference). And one of the entertaining highlights? Random pictures of attendees laying face-down in peculiar locations, in San Antonio and across the US.

Twitter is a natural tool for a conference. It allows attendees to post great take-aways from sessions, network with peers, share bright ideas, suggest city hotspots, plus much more. We used the hashtag of #ACUC11 so attendees of the conference could search tweets to find what others were saying about the event.

Over the course of the 4-day conference (6/19-6/22), according to’s Analytics, there were 679 mentions of #ACUC11  (!!). Thanks to the influx of tweets, retweets, and @mentions CUNAverse managed to gain many new followers, and we can now stay connected to our new friends (in 140 characters or less).

Planking goes Big Time

I won’t go into the history of planking (you can find it here on Wikipedia)  but it took this years’ ACUC by storm! From State League presidents (see NC’s John Radebaugh planking on a riverboat) to speakers, and attendees.  Even CUNA Mutual and those holding down the CUNA fort in Madison  got in on the action(See a collection of CU planking pics here).

It was a great way to build a community of attendees outside the conference sessions also by tying in some tourist sights San Antonio has to offer. Has anyone ever planked the Alamo? If not, @PJLiving  is the first!

Twitter seemed to bring a new life to America’s Credit Union Conference. As a staff member that stayed in Madison as things were in full-swing, I felt like I was right alongside of attendees. Reading highlights from breakout sessions and quotes from our Keynote Speakers, it was a nice breath of fresh air to check in the #ACUC11 search to see what would pop-up next. It was a great tool of inclusion in an age where we may not all get to travel for training. Though the information is fleeting (twitter keeps a tweet’s search functionaly for about a month), it’s a great way of connecting “in the moment”.

Are you using twitter at your credit union?  If so, share your best practices and ‘wow’ moments with a comment below.  Oh, and don’t forget to follow @CUNAverse :)

New Facebook Marketing Guide for Your Credit Union’s Toolkit

Posted by on Friday, 6 May, 2011

Whether you’re an old pro at the Facebook game or still learning the difference between a Page and a Place, a new resource from the social-media giant can help you step up your credit union’s Facebook marketing efforts.

At the end of April, Facebook released a free Best Practice Guide for Marketing on Facebook. The 14-page guide packs a powerful punch, with step-by-step instructions for using the site’s many tools to reach specific objectives. The guide also highlights successful strategies used by real companies, as well as a comprehensive glossary of Facebook resources that’s practically tailor-made to hang up in your office–it’s a great cheat sheet!

Facebook bases the strategies contained in this resource on five guiding principles:

  1. Build a strategy that is social by design. Integrate Facebook into broader marketing efforts.
  2. Create an authentic brand voice. Provide straightforward information about your business.
  3. Make it interactive. Always engage in two-way conversations.
  4. Nurture your relationships. Understand that building relationships requires a long-term investment.
  5. Keep learning. Take advantage of the ability to get feedback from people in real time.

That’s a solid foundation for any social-media strategy.

For more great advice on Facebook marketing, download the Best Practice Guide. And if you’re tweeting for your credit union, check out our recent post on Five Twitter Accounts Your Credit Union Should Follow.

Do More to Grow Membership

Posted by on Monday, 3 January, 2011

Growing membership is critical to all credit unions; after all membership growth keeps credit unions in business. While traditional ad campaigns help credit unions build name recognition and establish their brand, sponsorship and participation in community events and charitable activities can go a long way towards membership growth.

One credit union that has caught our team’s attention in recent months is Summit Credit Union. Their innovative approach to Do More by delivering “Random acts of kindness in their communities through do-good “summits,” has inspired all of us.

Check out videos from two of their recent events: 

Pretty awesome, huh?  Recently, I had the pleasure of asking Rebecca Gerothanas, the Senior VP of Marketing at Summit, a number of questions about Do More.  

How did the Do More campaign originate?

RG – We are always looking for non-traditional, innovative ways to engage with members and the community. About 18 months ago one of our team members saw a video by a group called Improv Everywhere. It prompted a few of us to wonder: what if we did something like that but our purpose was to do good for the community, to get members and employees involved? We spent some time talking about what that would look like and that is how our Do More campaign came to life.

How did you solicit employee involvement?

RG – The idea and the development originally formed within the marketing department, however we wanted the whole credit union to be involved (not just marketing).  We asked employees who were interested in being involved to fill out a short, fun survey in the spirit of “doing good for others”. We got a few dozen responses, and from there we randomly chose eight employees to join the team. Sometimes the whole team is involved in planning and executing events and sometimes just a few.

How do you come up with ideas?

RG –We hold brainstorming sessions. People on the team share ideas that they think:

  • Are unique and different;
  • Have a “feel good” twist;
  • Will get people talking; and
  • Help the community understand Summit’s brand.

Although events are planned on our end, we want them to feel spontaneous to our audience. We want to surprise and excite people!

How do you measure success?

RG – We ask ourselves: How engaged are people at the events? What is the general feeling? What kinds of connections were made?  Is there member and marketplace buzz and chatter? Are we seeing our actions translate to member growth? Website traffic? Traffic on our Facebook page? Is the local press covering stories on our events? Recently the Wisconsin State Journal did a profile of non-traditional marketing tactics and we were featured in that. We hope to have more scientific data in the future, but for now we are considering the buzz factor.

What has the feedback from members/the community been so far?

RG – We have received thank you notes and cards in the mail, comments on the phone and in person. Our members tell us that they see what we are doing and they like being a part of it.

Do you have any advice for other credit unions seeking to make a difference in their community?

RG – These things don’t have to cost a lot of money. We are very cognizant of the expense and we try to do things that don’t cost a lot of money (less than $500 a month). Another critical element is that we are engaging people in a REAL and genuine way. We aren’t just telling them what we can do; we are showing them what we can do. We are using social media to help people experience the credit union difference, and encouraging them to want to be a part of that difference.

Zappos, Old Spice Guy, Red Bull, Under Armour… and Credit Unions?

Posted by on Thursday, 2 December, 2010

Credit unions can learn from oodles of business practices outside of the credit union world. A perfect example is the discussion surrounding the recent Old Spice ads and the efforts of–this blog post and this blog post make excellent points relevant to credit unions.

There are even more if we hop into the Delorean and look at examples over the years.

One I’m particularly fond of is the comparison between credit unions and other financial institutions with that of small innovative companies and their larger competitors. In fact I even wrote about it on the YES Credit Union Blog back in 2006 using Red Bull and Under Armour as examples.

Both have evolved since the original post–Red Bull has increased their product line and now competes to retain its market share in the functional beverage market while Under Armour has entered new sports apparel niches–but I think you’ll still find the examples relevant.

What do you think… does the post hold up in today’s world? Is this even a valuable comparison? Here is the original post:

Wednesday November 29, 2006 – Dominate with Difference
I like to compare the credit union/bank situation to that of smaller competitors/larger competitors in other industries. The credit union movement can learn a thing or two.

For example, Red Bull Energy Drink was a no-name product a few years ago, but has now become a popular product with the 18-to-30 demographic. They may not come close to Coca-Cola or Pepsi in relation to the overall amount of product sold just as credit unions can’t compete with certain aspects of larger financial institutions. However, Red Bull has positioned itself as the leader in the niche market of energy soft drinks and a hip alternative to major soft drink labels. As a result, Red Bull continues to out sell energy soft drink products from these larger competitors by a very wide margin.

The same is true with other industries such as sports apparel. Under Armour–another popular brand with young adults–was recently established by a Senior in college. In just a few years Under Armour made a name for itself with their line of sports apparel rivaling industry giants. Just like Red Bull Energy Drink, Under Armour positioned itself as an alternative to established sports apparell juggernauts such as Nike, Reebok, and others.

How did they do this? In my opinion, they did something well and stuck with it. Red Bull and Under Armour found a niche, specialized their product, and didn’t get carried away with additional product offerings. For example, Red Bull only sells two products, a regular and sugar free version. Under Armour is known for light, fast drying sports apparel providing an “edge” to athletes. Additionally, these two companies marketed their products as something different, as a “cool” alternative, as a counter culture to the “establishment”.

Of course, there are a number of variables that brought success to these examples. And while Red Bull has continued to offer the same two products, Under Armour has expanded their product line. However the underlying principles have remained the same… capitalizing on what made their products different from the status quo, and not trying to be all things to all people.

What does this mean for credit unions that want to better serve the 18-to-30 demographic? The way I see it, credit unions are in a unique position to be the Red Bull or the Under Armor for the financial services industry in the eyes of young adults.

Credit unions are intrinsically different than any other financial institution. We can dominate with that difference to become a true alternative for this demographic to big banks. We can offer superior service, unique products that meet the needs of 18-to-30s, and most importantly communicate the credit union philosophy to separate ourselves from the crowd. Doing so develops our own niche with a generation of young adults who crave something different.

What do you think? Is this a fair comparison? Are credit unions really positioned to move in this direction? If credit unions move in this direction, will we alienate other members? Click on the comment link below to share your thoughts.

(This is a good moment to mention CUNAverse will be adding many of the original posts from the fledgling YES Credit Union Blog, CUNA’s first foray into the blogosphere… the blog has a lot of excellent content from the 2006, 2007 and 2008 YES Summits, the 2009 Community Credit Union and Growth Conference, including posts from Christopher Morris, Ramit Sethi and others. More on this in the near future.)