top of page
  • Writer's pictureFred Kelly

3 Reasons Credit Union Marketing Isn't Working

What do you think of credit union ads? Selling like hot cakes or stale as a 10-day loaf of bread?

Before you decide, let’s take a look. Here is a selection of randomly chosen ad taglines:

  • “Manage your finances anytime anywhere”

  • “We profit for you, not from you”

  • “With you to grow”

  • “Open your eyes to a credit union”

  • “We’re here for you”

  • “We are here to help”

  • “Discover the credit union difference”

  • “Grow with us”

  • “We’re here for our members”

  • “The financing power to grow your business”

  • “We live here too”

  • “Lending doesn’t have to be wild ride”

  • “Open a checking account for a chance to win $500”

  • “Great rates for everyone”

  • “Unlock the right mortgage for you”

What do you notice about these ad lines?


You know those exercises where you have to match the words with their meanings, joining the two with a line? If I gave you the names of the credit unions associated with each ad line, would you be able to match them up? It would be hard because the style and subject matter is all so similar. So how would a potential member choose one over another?

To differentiate your offering, you need to stand out from the crowd. Nike made an ad featuring a closeup of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the copy, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

No sitting on the fence there. Remember you are competing for attention. The first goal of your marketing is to break people out of their daily grind trance. You can't be all things to all people. Know your audience.

Divisive but effective


Claude Hopkins (1866–1932) one of the great advertising pioneers, wrote in Scientific Advertising: ‘Generalities roll off the human understanding like water off a duck’s back.

The legendary ad executive David Ogilvy is perhaps best known for his 1958 ad for luxury car manufacturer Rolls-Royce. Under a picture of a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud it read "At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise … comes from the electric clock."

Much better than a generic "One of the quietest luxury cars in the world". Think about the last novel you read. The descriptions were specific.

Ogilvy was a master of selling experiences


People have problems and want solutions. Talk to someone about a specific problem they have and how you can fix it, and you’re 90% there.

Here’s a quick example: “Your bank kept you on hold for 25 minutes? Did they tell you that your call was important to them? Bank with us, and you get to speak to someone in just 5 rings. Put us to the test. Call Sarah’s team on 555-123456 and get your life back today”

People hate being kept on hold and wasting their time in telephone menu systems. Give them a solution and make it personal. Notice that it has nothing to do with having the lowest rate. Banks will compete hard with you on rate, but they can't replicate the direct contact you can offer members.

Just bear in mind, not all members’ needs are equally important to them. You can use the hierarchy of needs framework to help you rank their needs.

Some Homework

Marketing is the first stage in your membership growth framework. Read about the other two in Why Your Credit Union is Losing Members (and How to Turn it Around).

Here are some questions you may want to think about in order to attract more members and spend less on marketing.

  • Do you know who you are selling to? Your members are not homogeneous. They have different wants and worries. Which sub-group is your marketing talking to? As they say in copywriting, write as if you are having a conversation with one specific person.

  • Have you figured out your unique selling proposition? Why would someone love what you do and tell all their friends and family? Hint: it’s got something to do with the member experience you are offering.

Words are powerful and 90% of marketing is just words. The more you think about the words you use, the better results you will have and changing words is free. That means you can save money on marketing so that you can more into creating great products. Let the virtuous circle begin!

16 views0 comments
bottom of page