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Why your credit union marketing strategy is failing – or is It?

Bo McDonald - Your Marketing Co
Written By: Bo McDonald

Oh, the frustration! An increased budget. An innovative strategy. Hopeful execution. And then… nothing. Sometimes, it results in denial, and other times, it results in doubling down on the failing strategy, hoping a little more elbow grease will make an impact.

I see this often with credit union leaders who reach out about their marketing. It’s just not working! And yes, sometimes we even see this with our clients. After 15 years of perspective, I’ve found three common reasons for a failed marketing strategy. Perhaps one or all of these sound familiar to you?

  1. Watching paint and boiling water. “Where are the new members?” “Where are the new loans?” Wait, this thing just launched two days ago! Much like you wouldn’t plant a seed and pull it up every few days to check the roots, you shouldn’t do that with your marketing. You implement an excellent credit union marketing strategy, and in no time, the post-mortems begin. You start tinkering with strategy (pulling up that seed to check the root), and then it becomes a certainty that nothing will grow.

Sometimes, we DO get it wrong and need to fail fast and fail cheaply, but if you’ve done your homework, have a sound strategy, and are starting to see results, leave well enough alone. Wouldn’t you rather “fail” for six weeks and see success over the course of the year?

  1. Right strategy. Wrong tactics. As mentioned above, strategy should be rooted in good, strong data. Perhaps your strategy is sound, but your tactics need to be revisited. Think back to 2011 when Netflix bungled its pricing change. Research analysts calculated that Netflix could have lost up to 30% of its recurring income because of the way it tried to split up its subscriber plans between DVD rentals and streaming downloads. Splitting the physical DVD rental business from the streaming download market made a lot of sense. The problem wasn’t with the strategy but with the not-so-well-thought-out tactics used (which, yes, the company did fix.)
  2. The dogs don’t like the taste of your dog food. What?!? We’re a credit union! What does dog food have to do with anything? Stick with me.

There’s an old story about a dog food company where sales were down, profits were down, income was down, and the people were down because of that. Marketing experts were called in. Every facet of marketing was considered and reworked. Packaging. Distribution. Ads.

Then, nothing. Sales were still down. Because the problem was related to sales, they hired some sales trainers. The top sales trainers from across the nation were hired and paid big bucks to train the sales force in advanced sales strategies. At one of these sales meetings, a junior salesman raised his hand. The expert sales trainer called on him.

“I know why sales are down.”

“You?” questioned the sales trainer. “You know why sales are down?”

“Yes. I know why sales are down.”

“We have had the top consultants in the country working on this, and they couldn’t figure it out, and you, Junior John, know why sales are down.”

“Yes, I know why sales are down.”

“Well, tell us then! Why are sales down? Enlighten us!”

“Dogs don’t like it.”


“Dogs don’t like it.”

“Excuse me? What do you mean dogs don’t like it?”

“Dogs don’t like it.”

“We have had some of the top scientists in the world developing this dog food formula. How can you criticize our dog food?”

“Dogs don’t like it.”

Why do your credit union marketing efforts seem to fall short? In our onboarding process with a new marketing client, we often find the real reason for stunted growth: Loan apps are clunky. Response times are too slow. Offerings are not relevant. The list can go on.

Out of the many reasons your marketing may not be working, a common one is that members simply don’t like what you have to offer.

For more than 15 years, we’ve been using a time-tested process to walk clients through achieving next-level growth opportunities before spending even one cent on marketing. Perhaps we can help you, too?

If the answer is yes, let’s talk!

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