By Teresa Freeborn
It’s not often that the “Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union” initiative is compared to hugely successful Apple stores, as it was in Frank J. Diekmann’s Oct. 1 commentary, but we’ll take it. As the most valuable company in the world, Apple seems to know something about attracting attention to interest new customers.
That is, in fact, exactly what we’re trying to achieve with the Open Your Eyes program kicking off next year: Pique the curiosity of American consumers about all that credit unions have to offer and ask them to consider us as their best financial partner.
Is Open Your Eyes “sleek”? You bet. It’s also fresh, vibrant and fun.
Is it “cool”? Absolutely. It has to be to connect to prospective new members who skew a bit younger.
Is it “sexy”? Well, if you say so!
Here’s the thing: While overall credit union membership numbers are indeed growing in a healthy economy, credit union market share has been stubbornly stuck at the same seven percent for decades. Our research shows that the top reasons we haven’t gained ground is that people don’t understand they can join a credit union and they don’t believe they can easily access their money when they move or travel. Open Your Eyes is designed to break down those barriers and present a modern image for credit unions across the country.
86 Cents Per Member
The $100 million budget for Open Your Eyes works out to about 86 cents per credit union member over three years. That’s hardly an outlandish number, especially when you consider what banks are spending. JP Morgan Chase will spend more than $5 billion on its marketing this year alone – 50 timesthe cost of our three-year program. Yet, by focusing our efforts on digital platforms, we believe we can get plenty of bang for our advertising buck and create more opportunity for local CU marketing programs to reach new members.
Frank makes valid points about the importance of educating new members to the wide array of products and services offered by credit unions. We strongly encourage that effort and OYE certainly does not preclude it. This initiative is designed to support and complement local efforts, not stand in their way.
I should also note that our program is designed to deepen member engagement with their credit union. Members exposed to our messaging will not only be educated about the additional products and services they can get at a credit union, they will find validation of their consumer savviness in choosing a credit union in the first place.
Unfortunately, Frank presents readers with a false choice: Credit unions aren’t faced with choosing one option (treating members right) or another (inviting new customers in). We believe credit unions need to do both: invest in building deeper connections with current members and present more reasons for other consumers to join.
We invite our colleagues across the industry to Open Your Eyes to creating a contemporary new image for credit unions that makes your own marketing efforts that much more successful. We’re excited about how credit unions will be portrayed in the Open Your Eyes program. And we’re confident that consumers will be, too, as we invite them in to have another look.
Teresa Freeborn is president and CEO of Xceed Financial Credit Union and Chair of the Creating Awareness Advisory Group