What is CU market place?

This blog is a marketing and business development resource for credit unions in the Virginia Credit Union League.  It’s a way for the Credit Union Marketing & Business Development Council of Virginia* to reach out, offer fresh perspectives, and get conversations started around important topics.

We’ll feature short, timely articles related to the issues we face in CU marketing. Initially, we’ll be publishing the ideas of Council members (click on the tab above to learn more about us), but we’d love to hear from you as well!

We invite you to read and comment on the articles, ask questions, disagree, support and expand on ideas, etc. Our goal is community and cooperation – another venue for sharing thoughts, ideas, problems etc. similar to the discussion portions of our marketing conferences.

*The Credit Union Marketing & Business Development Council of Virginia is a committee appointed by the Virginia Credit Union League (www.vacul.org).

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Your Annual Report – It’s so much more than just a financial report!

By Susanne Waltemyer

It comes around every year… the annual report! It’s a required publication intended to give  information about the credit union’s financial performance and activities throughout the year. If your credit union is like most, your annual report consists mostly of financial information: the balance sheet, income statement, President and Board Chairman’s reports and so on.

At CommonWealth One, we take a different approach. Not only does our annual report present our current financial condition, it also highlights our engagement with the communities we serve, for example; scholarships awarded, donations made, and community events held. It even acknowledges the new select employer groups (SEGs) we brought on during the year.  Those additions make our annual report a very effective tool to use for Business Development.

Here is how we use our annual report to engage our SEGs and potential SEGs:

Once the report is printed, we use delivery of the report as a special reason to visit our SEGs.  While there, we talk about some of the highlights and community activities we have done throughout the year.  This also gives us an opportunity to talk about the health of the credit union and how our products and services have helped members including their employees over the course of the year.

We also use our annual report as an opportunity to meet with potential SEGs. This report is an effective tool to use when attempting to persuade potential SEGs to partner with your credit union. However, I do want to give you some words of caution to keep in mind when using this report. If you are not already familiar with the financial information the report contains, get familiar with it. You may be asked some questions about the financial condition of your credit union, so definitely be prepared for that.  Your CFO would probably welcome the opportunity to go over the financial information with you.

If you are using this report for potential partners (SEGs) make sure you know your prospect fairly well before using this report in an attempt to woo them. It is important that you hit the right points from the report with the each potential partner company.  If you are highlighting all your community efforts it may fall on deaf ears with your potential SEG if they aren’t active in the community themselves. Perhaps your prospective SEG is more interested in knowing “What’s in it for me?” or that you are a stable institution that will take care of their employees’ financial needs in an easy and convenient manner, not that you provide financial education for all students within your local school system. When talking to the prospect, use the report to best represent your potential SEG’s interests. The rest is just a bonus.

Our annual report also gives us an additional reason to contact State and Federal politicians as well as our local city council and governing bodies. It highlights our good work in their community.  This brief and concise report provides a great deal of information about our credit union, while reminding our political leaders of our positive impact on the communities we collectively serve.

CommonWealth One’s Annual Report has been a great tool especially in reaching out to our SEG’s and local politicians. It has been my experience that everyone wants to get the “Big Picture” in a condensed manner - the credit union annual report serves this purpose perfectly. It doesn’t cost much more to print additional copies for SEGs and politicians when placing the order.

So… think like a master marketer and breathe new life into that required report! Your members, Board, SEGs and potential SEGs will all be glad you did. And be creative! The uses listed above are just a few ways to use the report to your advantage. I am sure you can think of more!

Susanne Waltemyer, CCUFC, is Business Development Manager at Commonwealth One Federal Credit Union.

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Women Are Decision-Makers; You’d Better Be Talking to Them!

By Catherine McDermott

I was reading an interesting article this morning about how in 1 of 4 households, the woman is the top breadwinner.  Not only are women catching up with men in earning power, but women are generally the main decision maker in the home. The article stated that women now earn more than men in almost a quarter of all U.S. families, the highest level in history. It’s a huge leap from 50 years ago when only a handful of women were bringing home the bacon, according to a study released by the Pew Research Center.

Overall, women — including those who are unmarried — are now the leading or solo breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households, compared with just 11 percent in 1960, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau analyzed by Pew.

When it comes to deciding on major home purchases, managing household finances, and other decisions, women are very much involved and often are in charge.

The survey found that, for 43 percent of couples, it is the woman who makes more decisions at home. Thirty-one percent of the couples equally divide decision-making. In only 26 percent of couples do men make more of the decisions.

Women are responsible for or influence $7 trillion in purchases in the US. They’re responsible for 85% of products and services, 60% of automobile purchases and even 40% of stock purchases. To put it simply, these are people you want on your side.

What does this mean? It means you can’t ignore the woman of the house. You can’t talk down to her or direct your primary attention to the husband. You have to talk to the woman as an equal in the buying decision, and she may very well be the primary decision-maker.

When you’re talking to the couple together, you need to address both the man and woman, and you need to answer both of their questions. When the woman says her husband is unavailable and you need to talk to her, you’d better believe it and you’d better give her your best sales presentation. Here’s why: the husband may not get involved at all, and she may be giving you your one and only shot at the sale.

Catherine McDermott is President & Chief Executive Officer of RF&P FCU in Richmond, VA.

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Community Involvement at Your Credit Union

By Stephanie Bailey

In 2012, our credit union decided to host a food drive for the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula. Our goal was to double the pounds of food donated the previous year. We put a challenge out to all of our branches and departments to see who could raise the most food donations during 2.5 months.

We placed bins in each branch for the community and members to make donations. To build excitement, we held contests for colleagues. One was a Mac-n-Cheese contest: for two weeks, colleagues raided stores for every last box of the item. By the end of that contest, we could build a tower from the Mac-n-Cheese we had collected. We also had a peanut butter and jelly contest. Once again the colleagues went to all of the local stores, bought all they could and we could build a tower.

Over 2.5 months, our members, community and colleagues were able to raise over 3,000 lbs of food for the Foodbank. This was more than we could have ever asked for but most of all it brought our members, community and colleagues together for the common purpose of volunteering to raise food for those less fortunate than ourselves.

This story brings is a reminder of who we are as credit unions. Since the beginning, credit unions have practiced the “People Helping People” philosophy. An important part of that philosophy is the long history of social responsibility, including volunteerism and the support of charitable and community causes.

Where to start? Each credit union begins their volunteerism with their board of directors. From there it’s a domino effect within the organization.

Credit unions have a variety of different volunteer opportunities. Some offer community outreach coordinators, others sponsor volunteer teams or hold credit union-wide volunteer days, etc.

No matter how each credit union chooses to serve its membership and communities, they are showing the world that credit unions are not just about improving our members financial wellbeing, but also about partnering with the non-profits in the communities that they serve.

So be sure to be get your colleagues and members involved in your community outreach activities - it’s what being a credit union is all about!


Stephanie Bailey is Marketing Coordinator for 1st Advantage Federal Credit Union in Hampton Roads, VA. 1st Advantage has a community charter to serve the Virginia Peninsula and is part of the Hampton Roads chapter of VACUL.

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Channeling Your Inner Graphic Design Superhero

By Whitney Mathers

As Marketeers in the Wonderful World of Credit Unions, not all of us have the luxury (or budget) for an in-house graphic designer with all the bells and whistles and the know-how to create the most innovative and out-of-the-box marketing campaigns to boost our institution above and beyond the competing banks in our areas. Usually, it’s just two of us (if we’re lucky) with Microsoft Publisher and a deadline of last week.

When it comes to marketing your products and services, the biggest thing you want your members to take away from your material is your PRODUCT and/or SERVICES. Some of the most eye-catching promotional pieces are primarily text based. All you need to know are the basics in font pairing, color choice and brand identity, and you’ll have a knockout marketing piece in no time!

Let’s get started on the basics:

Font pairing is essential to creating an ad that grabs attention and directs where draw your focus. When pairing fonts, remember that opposites do attract! Match up serif (Georgia) with sans serif (Calibri) and elaborate with simple. The idea is that one font will dominate your main idea, such as your rate, and the other font will serve as the filler with your details. It’s usually safe to use about three fonts within a single ad. You want consistency within your work.


Color choice
is another major (and obvious) factor when creating a design project. Color creates emotion within your text. Just like the Golden Rule for fonts, limiting your amount of color is just as important. You don’t want to overdo it and lose your “wow factor” in a rainbow of text. It’s also important to refer to the color wheel and complimentary colors. Using complimentary colors, or different shades within the same color helps add a punch to your already awesome idea.


rand identity. The final thing to remember when creating a marketing piece is that you want it to be unique to YOUR credit union. Think about your credit union’s identity. Look at your logo. Do you have a style guide with colors and fonts that help to maintain your “brand”? Without making all of your material look the exact same, try to maintain a familiarity that lets your members know where these genius promotions are being generated. At Beach Municipal FCU, we’re obviously all about the beach! Within all of our promotional material, we maintain our  identity through similar colors, stock photos and even use the same family of fonts for most pieces.

So, what do you think? Graphic Design 101 isn’t as bad as you thought, is it? A few of the right fonts and  a color family that attracts the eye, and
you’ve just boosted your loan portfolio. Your welcome, VP of Lending.

Be a graphic design superhero. Here are a few links to be even more amazing:

Free Fonts (www.dafont.com)
Color Palettes (www.design-seeds.com)

Whitney Mathers is coordinator of Visual Marketing/Business Development at Beach Municipal Federal Credit Union and a member of the VACUL Marketing & Business Development Council. Her work was recently honored with a Diamond Award from the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, which recognizes outstanding marketing and business development achievements in the credit union industry. Beach Municipal FCU won the Membership Packets, Brochures, or Booklets category for work designed by Whitney.

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Get the Details: East Coast Marketing Conference

The planning committee from the North Carolina League’s marketing council has released a beautiful pdf brochure with details about the East Coast Marketing Conference 2013 coming up in September. Download it and start making plans!

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Save the Date: East Coast Marketing Conference 2013!

Be sure to clear your calendar for the 2013 East Coast Credit Union Marketing & Business Development Conference - coming to Ashville, NC on Sept. 11-13!

Here’s the link to the conference flyer – stay tuned for more info!

Click here to download the “Save the Date” Flyer

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Got Good Stuff? Tell Them About It!

By Kelli Ragland

The last three years have been tough!

Our members have suffered job losses, cost-of-living increases, the steadily (maybe not so steadily) rising cost of gas and other items that makes “keeping our heads above water” hard.

My team members and I met to discuss how to “market” to these individuals. Pushing car loans or citing that “we have great checking accounts” didn’t seem to be the answer to our members’ needs. Not only did product-pushing not sit well with us, we didn’t have the financial resources to advertise as we had in the past. We needed to find a way to help ease our members’ financial burdens – and do so with a minimal marketing budget.

Then it finally hit us – why not showcase the credit union difference? We know that we save members tons of money when they bring their loans to us from those other guys (who shall not be named). We developed the “Honest to Goodness” savings program. This program simply shows the savings that members can see when they refinance a loan with us or when they begin their checking account relationship with us and pay lower fees. We started tracking the savings and at the end of the year we publicized these savings.

Being that this was a new concept, we started out with a $1.5 million savings goal. We not only reached this goal – we slam-dunked this goal with over 4 million dollars in savings!

We decided this was something to shout about…so we did! We launched a micro-site, bragged on Facebook, and used our employees and branches to share. This was a wonderful, inexpensive approach to advertising our products, specifically our loans. Since we’ve started this program, we have seen our loans steadily rise (even in this challenging economy).

To sum it up: If your credit union has “rock star” quality in something – let consumers know. It may be something that they need!


Kelli Ragland is Vice President of Marketing at ABNB Federal Credit Union, based in Hampton Roads.

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