By Robert McGarvey
Mark your calendar. October 19th is National Credit Union Day and that is an ideal day to turn a spotlight on your credit union and seek to bring in new members and build stronger ties to existing members.
Sure, National Days of…have gotten silly. There are so many there’s even talk of a National Marmite Day, a spread with few fans in the US.
But credit unions should definitely not miss out on their day on centerstage. The third Thursday in October has been National Credit Union Day since 1948 and the core idea is to use the day to make clear that credit unions are not banks.
This year’s theme is “Dreams Thrive Here.”
“The theme reflects the initial results of CUNA’s ongoing research into what resonates with consumers about credit unions,” said Jeremiah Tucker, CUNA consumer engagement program lead. “Credit unions are good at showing how we’re the socially responsible choice for banking, but we also need to remind consumers that credit unions are their best choice for personal success and satisfaction.”
CUNA also has built in a charitable component where a donation is made by participating credit unions to a local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital for every debit and credit card transaction by members on October 19.
Want more specific ideas about how to celebrate?
A page noting the day on your website is a good idea.
WNC Community Credit Union is opening its doors from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is serving free lunch – sliders, chips, cookies – in a day of celebrating its members. Excellent idea.
United Equity Credit Union is doing similar – serving lunch to members from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
VUE is holding an open house and serving coffee and doughnuts all day, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Fox Communities Credit Union decided a day isn’t enough so it is celebrating National Credit Union Week, October 16 through 21. There’s a chance to win a $100 gift card.
But know that you can up the ante on all this. How?
Get up a one page event notice on your website. There are many members who rarely step into a branch. So put up a notice where they are likely to see it. Do that now.
Prepare a one page info sheet that explains how you are not a bank – and in fact are better than a bank.
A one page sheet on the Rochdale Principles that underlie every credit union is another good handout.
Members of CO-OP’s and CuLiance’s ATM networks need to tout the size of their ATM networks.
Serve snacks from food cooperatives such as Cabot Cheese and Blue Diamond almonds and Ocean Spray cranberry juice. Here’s a USDA list of the largest and of course it’s smart to emphasize cooperatives in your own community.
A key message: a credit union is not an eccentric, microscopic bank. In fact it is something entirely different. Better. Member owned. And every credit union is part of huge movement that is global.
Open the doors not just to members but also people in the community. Be ready with account opening materials. Have a highly trained staffer who is good at opening accounts in a few minutes. Make it fast.
Reach out to local media – newspapers, TV, radio – and seek coverage of National Credit Union Day. Do that right now.
Get aggressive in putting the word out. A lot of credit unions – most – are passive when it comes to marketing but that just doesn’t work in a world where the money center banks flood the airwaves with ads and don’t forget all those branches which may be empty but they definitely function as billboards.
It just is easy to be unaware of credit unions.
That’s why this one day is crucial. Use it wisely. Loudly. Get out your word. Tell your story. The facts support you: a credit union is a better deal for most consumers. So let them know that.