Posts Tagged Membership growth

The Clock is Ticking Down to Bank Transfer Day – Saturday, November 5th

Posted by on Friday, 4 November, 2011

From Jill Stevenson:

Were any of us expecting the surge of public outcry against big banks when Bank of America made that little announcement of charging a monthly $5 fee on debit cards? Come on, really…it’s not like they haven’t added new fees or increased fee charges before.

I think not…

When opportunity knocks, when our rivals really get it wrong, credit unions aren’t fortune’s fools.

This is the credit union movement’s “national branding campaign we have been waiting for,” Pat Keefe, CUNA VP of communications and media outreach, so aptly proclaimed during a recent interview on CU Chat Up.

I think he is right.

Credit unions did not have to design it, manufacture it, nor pay for it. But, we will certainly benefit from it. And may our new credit union members be content with their switch.

Now, whoa Nelly, BofA backed down and nixed the fee…

Too late!

The actions of big banks have sent their customers searching for credit unions to join. Will everyone find a credit union to join via the credit union locators that are being promoted throughout the news and Internet? Since the BofA announcement, over 68,000 successful searches have been conducted via the CU locator on the consumer website

Don’t overlook the power of social media, either. Geez, just look at the reaction from that event page posted by Kristen Christian. That’s what has gotten us to this countdown to Bank Transfer Day on Saturday, November 5.

A Smarter Choice’s Facebook page had reached 1,014 “likes” during its first 6 months. Now, four weeks after the BofA announcement, that number has climbed to over 6,283 as I edit this blog, again. Oh, and according to Facebook, 2,124 people are talking about this (us). How they know, I really don’t want to think about….

Here are a few of the most recent Facebook comments:

“Buy local everything. The extra money you may spend will end up in your pocket.”

As to whether the BofA fee reversal changes your plans to switch?

“No. Switching has never been easier…”

“No. Too little too late…”

Here’s a comment on the posts about The Disclosures song “Tired of Your Big Bank?”

“Love the song and love my credit union!!! They have taken care of me for 40 years and have never done me wrong!!! Get smart people and move your money to a credit union where you and people like you are in charge!!!” (3 people “liked” what she said.)

Thank you, big banks!

Jill Stevenson is the consumer website coordinator for

Top 15 Must-read Credit Union Articles for Summer, 2011

Posted by on Thursday, 22 September, 2011

What a busy summer in credit union land! We took a brief respite from our “Must Read” lists this summer to tend to other matters, but fear not! This post includes five articles for each month—June, July, and August—on important credit union topics you may have missed.

We hope these are helpful and, as always, please share additional articles by leaving a comment below!




Create a Board Succession Plan: Seven Steps

Creating a board succession plan is in members’ best interests and helps fulfill directors’ fiduciary duties. Learn how with this article.

What Do Credit Unions Need to Do to Remain Relevant

Several credit union IT leaders were asked this question by Credit Union Times at the recent Finovation conference in San Francisco: “What do credit unions need to do to stay relevant in the coming years?”

Small Banks, Credit Unions Fear Debit Fee Declines

Could a limit on the fees retailers pay on debit card purchases cause your bank or credit union to fail? That’s the dire picture some are painting as a cap on so-called swipe fees nears.

Louisiana League to Develop Young Professionals Network

The Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL) is developing a program to provide networking, development and growth opportunities for Louisiana’s young credit union professionals.

Compliance: What to Know About Reg Z Changes

CompBlog, the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) newest addition to its electronic information toolshed for members, has started a conversation about what credit unions should focus on in the changes the Federal Reserve made this spring to its Regulation Z.




Why Social Media’s in the Cards

Credit unions still unsure whether or not to invest in social networking may find some direction in a new study. According to SYNERGISTICS Research, cardholders are beginning to connect with credit card issuers via social networks.

Credit Unions Provide Haven for Commercial Lending

More companies have turned to their friendly neighborhood credit union for commercial loans, which is keeping many folks in business and adding jobs to a shaky economy.

Fed Issues Interchange ‘Exempt/Not Exempt’ Lists

In its first step to facilitate a two-tiered debit card interchange fee structure since adoption of its final rule, the Federal Reserve Tuesday (06/12) issued two lists—one with the names of each institution considered to be covered by the new cap on debit interchange fees and another with the names of those that are exempt.

Check 21: Image is Everything

Even though the volume of checks written gradually declines each year, credit unions should continue to invest in check-capture technologies that automate item processing and lower costs, says Andrew Tilbury, director of marketing and communications at Bluepoint Solutions Inc.

Social Media Enters the Hiring Process

As with all communication, social media comes with business benefits and legal risks. A primary area for concern among HR professionals is the use of social media in the hiring process.




Crash Networkers Take on Affordable Home Ownership

In just ten weeks, the Filene Research Institute and the Crash Network have developed an innovative program designed to help credit unions increase the availability of affordable home ownership.

Ed Filene on Embracing Social Media

There has been a long-running topic on about how to get management on-board with social media when they are dead-set against it.

Can Square Bring You More Business?

Shari Storm, SVP and CMO for Verity Credit Union suggests the launch of Square may cause credit unions to see more of their members starting side businesses.

CU Members Today and Tomorrow

As credit unions look to attract new members and peak borrowers in the future, they should increasingly think “young” and “Hispanic.”

How Stock Market Woes May Impact CUs

What is the consumer-confidence effect of market volatility on credit union members?


Live From The 1: Using the Power of Social Networking to Build Your Credit Union

Posted by on Tuesday, 13 July, 2010

Everyone knows about social media, and talks about being hands-on and interactive. But what does this mean and how do you do it? Some people (& credit unions…) sensing a huge business potential throw money at new online opportunities. But speaker Tara Hunt says, “Money isn’t the capital of choice in online communities, it’s social capital, known as ‘whuffie,’ that drives these new engines.”

Tara, the author of The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business, says that in the social media space, market capital flows from having high social capital. Without high levels of “whuffie” (I can say that word all day BTW), you lose your connections to online communities, and any recommendations you make will be seen as spam.

The first part of her presentation echoed Brent Dixon’s yesterday. Viral social media content is mostly emotional, positive…awe-inspiring. People are sharing personal information and feelings like never before via social media (even their location – gasp!). The social web is growing and changing the way we interact with each other.

One particularly interesting finding she mentioned is that social networking affects the brain like falling in love – if a company or brand raises our oxytocin levels, we are more likely to connect with them.

Some great examples and videos Tara showed the group:

Tara’s final words – “This stuff is important. All you need is love. May the force be with you.”

Live From The 1: Youthful Products for a Younger Membership

Posted by on Monday, 12 July, 2010

Viva Las Vegas! I’m excited to be blogging live from the 1 Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas with Courtney and Meghann over the next couple days. We’ll be posting some highlights and takeaways from key sessions right here on CUNAverse (Note, they’ll be a little looser than our usual posts). Also, for more live conference coverage, you can check out News Now’s updates, CU Grow, and of course a twitter search of the conference hashtag #the1cuconf for real-time information from conference-goers.

This morning I had the pleasure of introducing Brent Dixon, Young Adult Advisor at Filene Research Institute (USA), and Ross Lambrick, Regional Manager at Credit Union Australia (Australia), for a very relevant and important session – “Youthful Products for a Younger Membership.”

Ross kicked off the packed session with information on the demographic and the current Australian environment. For example, Gen Z, Y and X together make up 61% of the Australian population but only 20% are credit union members.

What I found most interesting were his examples of what both banks and credit unions are doing right in Australia. Highlights:

  • Bendigo Bank partnered with a college to mentor students which exposes them to issues and practices in the finance industry as career development.
  • Commonwealth Bank has a vision to have every child be financially literate – they offer and extensive school banking and financial literacy program.
  • Community First Credit Union has an online greeter, Lisa,  you can interact with on their website.

What do Gen X & Y want from their financial institution?

  • Convenience
  • Control
  • Problem resolution
  • Friendly, courteous and knowledgeable staff
  • Interested in the values of the brand they buy

Ross ended with his creed – “Change the life of a member for the better.”

Brent opened it up with the landscape – “credit unions need Gen Y.” Highlights: 

  • 47 is the average age of membership
  • From 1985-2005, Gen Y members declined

So what do you do? Cosmetics aren’t the answer and it’s not just about being “edgy.” You need an oustanding product to begin with – master the basics first.

Some successful product ideas he mentioned:

  • Give your product a customizable face
  • Debit card rewards
  • Prize-based savings
  • First credit cards (relationships last on average 15 years) are key. Hint: market to parents.

Think Twitter and social media is just about what people had for lunch? Wrong. Twitter can also be used for real change and political action in places like Iran.

It’s also changing our idea of “now” and we’re always “on.” He mentioned a statistic that 48% of people check online activity when waking up in the middle of the night. What can your credit union do? You need to listen and interact with members in real-time because it is becoming the expectation.

For your content to go viral (or to even be watched), you need to be original, creative, emotional, and awe-inspiring. Luckily, credit union stories are all of those things.

What I Learned About Social Media at Marketing Management School

Posted by on Wednesday, 7 July, 2010

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending CUNA’s Marketing Management School in Orlando, Florida. Although my tenure (ten years!) at CUNA has provided me with opportunities to travel and work at various onsite events this was my first experience working with credit union marketers. It was an absolute delight!

Meghann Dawson, my colleague and fellow CUNAverse blogger, spent the last year working with Anne Legg (CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Chair), and Randy Schultz (of Weber Marketing) to revamp the existing school.

The result was a stellar 3D program, with “dimensions” for marketers of every level.  Dimension 1 was led by Randy Schultz; Dimension 2 was led by Mark Arnold, CCUE (of Neighborhood Credit Union) and Dimension 3 was led by Jeff Rendel (of Rising Above Enterprises). This trio was responsible for leading and facilitating the educational offerings. Throughout the week Meghann and I heard from students in each dimension that their facilitator was “the best of the three.” Clearly, Randy, Mark and Jeff brought their “A game” to Orlando, as did all of the other speakers.

I personally learned A LOT at Marketing Management School… I could write several posts on the experience…but, I’ve boiled it down to this:

If you want to be a strong leader, you need to embrace Web 2.0/Social Media. What do I mean by this? You need to start educating yourself on Web 2.0. This means reading blogs (this one is a great start!), subscribing to RSS feeds, investigating wikis, and watching videos on sharing sites like YouTube, to name a few.  Social Media  is not a passing fad. Strong leaders recognize the true power of the Internet and the importance of being technologically savvy.  Embracing Web 2.0 might mean asking for help. Enlist the help of your part-time student teller. Hire a marketing intern from your local high school or college.  If nothing else, check out other credit unions who are embracing Web 2.0 well. Do whatever it takes to get educated because education truly IS power.

Last week my 11 year old niece taught my mom more about her iPhone in 3 days, than my mom had learned in 3 months. Why? Because kids play! They aren’t afraid to push buttons until they figure things out.  Become a kid again. Play! Have fun! Open yourself up to learning. It’s the only way to survive in today’s fast-paced, ever-connected world.

If your credit union is not involved in social media efforts, it’s time to get on board. In each classroom, this message was resounding. Web 1.0 was about obtaining information, Web 2.0 is about people. More importantly, people connecting with other people. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

43% of the online community is now using social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. (If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, this piece is a good starting point). If you want your credit union to thrive, you must have an online presence.

As Senior Vice President of Marketing for Neighborhood Credit Union, Mark Arnold shared his top  Five Reasons for Using Social Media to Reach Members:

  1. To drive sales.
  2. To improve member service.
  3. To build your credit union’s brand.
  4. To create name awareness.
  5. To potentially save money.

As Mark pointed out so succinctly, social networking is about collaborating, interacting and transparency. Social networking is about honesty, authenticity, conversations and dialogue. Isn’t that what credit unions are all about too?

I returned from Marketing Management School refreshed, rejuvenated and reinspired by all of the wonderful things that are going on in Credit Union Land. I thank all of you who joined us on the journey!

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” —B. B. King

What Credit Unions Can Learn From Pizza Hut

Posted by on Tuesday, 29 June, 2010

It has become a tradition now for the Madison-based CUNAverse team to have regular meetings at a neighborhood Pizza Hut for their lunch buffet. It started out by the other team members agreeing to go there to humor me – I talked more than once about eating at one a lot during high school and not going there since.

Then we ate there and were WOWed. So much so that we actually said “Wow” out loud a few times to each other. It’s not that the food is amazing – it’s good not great – but the experience is what makes it amazing. We have a regular table now.

Wait, how is a franchised lunch buffet relevant to credit unions you ask?

Provide Great Service. The first time we went there, the server asked us what kind of pizza we liked and if we didn’t see it on the buffet…they would make it. And they did make it. And then they brought it to the table to give us the first slices to ensure we got it. They did that more than once and in a way that didn’t seem like it was out of character or annoying. Wow. Also, none of us ever had to ask for drink refills because the server seemed to anticipate our every need. We felt special.

Consistency is Important. This great service must be instilled at a higher level because every server we’ve had since we started going there has been fantastic. We’ve started talking about it to others even (heck, I’m blogging about it right now!). But one time recently I did meet my family there for lunch to show them how great it is…and the restaurant failed me. The service was good, not great like the pizza. We had to ask for things and weren’t asked if we wanted anything not on the buffet. If you set high standards, every staff person needs to meet them.

Go Beyond Expectations. The first time we went there, we weren’t expecting much. It’s a lunch buffet right? The whole point is to not serve you and let you fend for yourself. Our server ended up taking care of us better than most do when you are eating a non-buffet meal! They anticipated our needs, met them and went one little step further.

Think about this: to consumers, people generally don’t expect much from their financial institution. It’s a chore that has to get done. It should be easy to WOW them.

Set a small goal for yourself this week – what’s one little thing you and/or your credit union can do to go beyond your members’ expectations?

Ode to My Credit Union: Becoming Your Members’ Go-To Resource

Posted by on Friday, 11 June, 2010

Tracy Anderson

From Tracy Anderson:

I have to admit that my personal finance skills have never been great.  Sure, my parents encouraged me to budget and tried to reinforce the importance of saving for a rainy day.   It wasn’t until I found myself buried with student loans and other “adult” expenses just like many other college grads that I finally cracked down on my spending, and created a personal budget.

I received plenty of help from my credit union to get my budget on track through categorized expense tracking, calculators, personal meetings and and tips on their Web site.  The small amount of personal attention made them my go-to resource for any questions or future financial assistance.

While it is great to have these resources now, I often wish I had been fully engaged with my finances from an earlier age.  I didn’t truly grasp the concept of how much life could cost until I was out on my own – thrown into the real world!

Younger generations are really struggling with money management skills much like older members, and the economy hasn’t made life easier for anyone.  This is evident by a recent article in Credit Union Magazine stating that bankruptcy filings in March of 2010 represented the highest monthly consumer filing, reaching 149,268!  American Bankruptcy Institute(ABI) Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano states, “The sustained economic pressures of unemployment coupled with high pre-existing debt burdens are a formula for consumer filings to surpass 1.5 million filings.”

Many members are feeling lost and unsure of what their next step should be, so now is the time for credit unions to sweep in and help.  While you can help your current members get back on their feet, you also have the ability to be known as the source of good personal finance habits for potential members and prevent the financial issues many people currently face.

What kinds of things are you doing to be the trusted, go-to resource for your current and future members?

Tracy Anderson is Marketing Communications Specialist for the Credit Union National Association.

Is Your Credit Union Leveraging Yelp & Google? Start Now.

Posted by on Wednesday, 26 May, 2010

About a year ago now, I did a post at on some free online tools every credit union marketer should be using – Google Alerts, Twitter search, etc. The tools are still relevant because even if you aren’t embarking on a full-scale social media campaign, your membership and potential members might be talking about you. And you need to listen and respond if necessary. Ten or fifteen years ago, if a member had a good or bad experience with your credit union, they simply called or wrote the branch to complain.

Not anymore.

Now they can blog about it, tweet about it, update their Facebook status about it, and so on. And that information is public and most likely could live on forever. And Google loves blogs – for a personal example, about two years ago I got my auto loan through Great Wisconsin Credit Union here in Madison (now Summit CU) and did a blog post about my experience – Google “auto loan great Wisconsin credit union” and my blog post is (sometimes) towards the top of the search results. Do you think a potential auto loan seeker will read that blog post? Heck yes. So be prepared.

Aside from assembling your rapid response social media team, one thing you can do is to invest some time into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – getting your web pages higher in search results. For a primer, I recommend checking out a blog post I did for CU Communicator a while back and more importantly, Google’s free SEO starter guide (who knows search better than Google?). Once you dig a little deeper into SEO, you’ll find yourself forever changed on how you write copy for your web pages (example – stop using “CU” and write out “credit union”…are members searching “CU” or “credit union?”)


Another overlooked outlet for disgruntled or happy members is Yelp. Yelp is a website where “real people write real reviews” of area businesses. Most likely your credit union is listed and has been reviewed. You might have only one review which might not mean that much to you. But remember two things:

  1. 78% of People Trust Recommendations of Other Consumers (source)
  2. Google likes Yelp – for example, Heartland Credit Union here in Madison has only one review (4-stars out of 5)). When you Google “Heartland Credit Union Madison,” their Yelp page is on the first page of the search results. Will curious parties read that review? Again, heck yes.

So what can you do? First, visit Yelp’s business owner section and edit/update your business information (remember – if it shows up on the first page of Google results, it’s about as important as your credit union’s website in terms of visibility…think of it as an “online branch” so to speak). Then read this great blog post by Samuel Axon – “Yelp for Businesses: 4 Steps for Success” and follow his tips. I like the idea of displaying a Yelp badge on your site for example or re-posting some actual reviews. You can also display reviews or stickers in your branches too (see image for an easy example).

I’d also recommending making the rest of your staff aware of both of these resources/strategies – Yelp and SEO. For example, you might find yourself editing content less and you don’t want frontline staff caught off guard by a member who mention’s your credit union’s Yelp review.

“Yelp? Do you mean you need help? I’m sorry, let me get a manager…”

This post originally appeared at in a slightly different form.

Growing Credit Unions

Posted by on Thursday, 13 May, 2010

Recently, CUNA CPD had the pleasure of having three guest panelists attend our department-wide staff meeting. The guests represented various aspects of the credit union system and included Jim Drogue, VP of Credit Union Development at the Wisconsin Credit Union League, Fritz Shunke, Director at Summit Credit Union and Mike Long, Executive VP at UW Credit Union.

Each of the panelists spent a few minutes talking about their role within the credit union system, and the challenges they face…the common concern for all three? Growing membership! It is a problem they face, and a problem that many of you likely face.

In 2009, when many credit unions were struggling to keep up with changes in regulations and the overarching challenges brought on by the recession, UWCU added 28,000 new members! Considering that their total membership is more than 145,000, this statistic is pretty impressive (that translates to nearly 20% growth).

How did UWCU do it? And in 2009 nonetheless? They did it by being who they say they are: People Helping People. 

They let current events do the talking. In the past two years, banks, in general, have gotten a bad rap. Of course, bad news for banks= good news for credit unions. News outlets such as the Today Show, CBSNews, MSNMoney, CNN, and Newsweek encouraged consumers who were dismayed by the “big bank bailouts” to entrust their money with credit unions. Movements such as Move Your Money popped up… inviting the general public to do just that. (Check out comments posted by “movers” on the Testimonials page. Your credit union might even be one mentioned!)

My Favorite Bumper Sticker

They send the right messages to existing and future members. For UWCU, this includes member surveys and other correspondence that say:  “Our members’ interest always comes first.”  Billboards around town are simple, yet honest: “We are always looking out for members.” Simple, yet powerful.

They show the credit union difference.  UWCU cares about their members. This means they want to provide members with good value, built on a foundation of service excellence. How do they do this? Through conversations and caring.

UWCU empowers its employees to find out what challenges individual members are facing and how the credit union might help them with those challenges. They encourage staff to cultivate meaningful relationships with members and tailor their service to fit the members’ needs, circumstances and financial goals.

 This involves:

  • Offering an array of reasonably priced and well-designed products and services;
  • Delivering technology systems that provide members a high level of convenience and control; and
  • Providing people with the information and understanding they need to make good financial decisions.


They attract “Members for Life.” This is actually the name of their internal training program and it is a name that fits. The goal of the program is to provide a service experience for members that exceeds their expectations, provides value and unbiased advice, and is consistent across the company. How do they fare? According to Rob Van Nevel, Assistant Vice President of Member Services, “more than 98% of our members say we meet or exceed their expectations.” I am one of those members.

I became a member of UWCU when I was still in high school. (Luckily, my mother steered me in the right direction at a very early age…thanks Mom!) More than fifteen years later, I can honestly say that I LOVE MY CREDIT UNION.

My first auto loan in 2003...for this Nissan Altima!

I love Cory Poole, who helped me with my first car loan. Not only did Cory explain the loan process carefully and answer all of my questions, once the deal was sealed he walked me out to the parking lot to check out my “new” used Altima. It took just a few minutes out of his day but with that one act, Cory made me a Member for Life. He was the first person I called when my husband and I began “condo shopping” and he made the mortgage loan process a lot less scary.

I love Beth Grosskopf, who helped me lock in an amazing rate on my most recent car loan. As if that weren’t enough, she helped my husband and I consolidate some other loans so we could pay them off faster, and at a special rate.  

In addition to the people, I LOVE UW Web Branch—in fact, I might have a problem. I am on Web Branch every day, managing my money and watching my savings grow. I love the new incorporation of Money Management Tools and I secretly hope that it was the suggestion I submitted in 2009, that brought this amazing tool to life. Why? Because I know UWCU actually listens to their members. For that, and so many other reasons, I LOVE MY CREDIT UNION! And I’ve never heard anyone say that about their bank. 

What about you? What is your credit union doing to grow membership and retain members for life?

>Growing New Branches

Posted by on Thursday, 18 September, 2008

CUNA News Now reported today that “43% of [credit union and bank members] said they prefer financial institutions to model their environment after retailers such as high-end coffee shops, and apparel stores known for their top-notch service and personal shoppers.” (more on the survey is here.)

I was thinking about this issue recently because my credit union, Great Wisconsin Credit Union, just remodeled the branch I frequent on Yellowstone Dr. They went from a pretty standard bank model to a welcoming and open alternative. You notice the difference immediately after walking in – high ceilings, natural wood and light, soft colors, free coffee (fresh!), bookshelf with financial books you can borrow (Suze Orman and the likes, etc), flowing waterfall by the teller station, and toys for the kids (as I noted in a post earlier, they’ve also got snacks for the kids). Nice digs on top of good service and products is a big plus. 
But does it matter to young adults? We know that they still value ATMs and branches over online banking. That may change in the future with the growth of online and mobile banking, but for now it makes sense to pay attention.
Models for Inspiration
Look at ING Direct’s Cafe model –  A review of one in Philadelphia says “this coffee club is, like Urban Outfitters, an op/pop proposition amid tonier locales; a caffeinated respite that actually serves public function. ING serves a social need — like the Palm Pilot and the cell phone — by allowing users on the go to surf the Internet as well as do their banking or check stock numbers.” Serves a social need. Wow. Does your credit union do that?
I also got a few great ideas in a white paper this year from the CUNA OpSS Council. Some examples in the white paper include:
  • Planning to “build green” at University Federal Credit Union in Austin, Texas University will open its first “green” branch in October 2008 and plans to build all future branches with a “green” design that decreases energy use, recycles “gray” water that comes from sinks and showers (but never toilets) for landscaping, and reduces the impact on the environment. 
  • Spurring growth by introducing “dialogue banking” with teller pods at Innovations Federal Credit Union [check out their website! It's cool.] in Panama City, Florida. Innovations’ leaders credit the dialogue banking approach with helping the credit union grow from assets of $81 million in 2004 to $112 million at year-end 2007.
  • Refining the use of remote teller systems at APGFCU in Aberdeen, Maryland. APGFCU shares its experiences on when and where to install remote tellers effectively.
Do a Google search for “Innovative Credit Union Branch” for even more examples and pictures.
Bottom Line
Given a choice between a financial institution with a hip branch or the traditional model, which one does an 18-to-30 year-old pick? I don’t think it’s a deal breaker – instead your new branch enhances your standing to current and potential members as part of your overall image and value.