NEW YORK (7/2/08)--Membership Growth Task Force Chairman Dick Ensweiler presented the group’s findings and recommendations to the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA’s) Board Tuesday during America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo this week in New York.
At a press conference, Dick Ensweiler, right, chairman of the Membership Growth Task Force and president of the Texas Credit Union League, discusses the task force’s findings and recommendations to the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Board. Also shown are CUNA’s Mark Wolff, left, senior vice president of communications, and Mike Schenk, senior economist and liaison to the task force (Photo provided by CUNA)
“Fifteen percent of potential members are actually members of credit unions, and it’s not growing,” Ensweiler, president of the Texas Credit Union League, said. Potential members “are getting inconsistent messages about credit unions, and branding isn’t the answer because credit unions want to do their own marketing to show they’re unique from other credit unions,” he said. Marketing messages emphasizing member-owner benefits and tax-exemption are not messages that resonate with potential members. “We need an awareness and image campaign” that should focus on “what people care about—trust, respect, or whatever the right message is today.” Although credit unions are squeezed financially and aren’t allocating the extra funds needed for marketing, they could explore ways to work together, to collaborate, he said. Metrics is also an issue. Credit unions need to measure their growth initiatives to determine whether their approach to growth is doing what they intend, he said. The task force determined three “ripe” markets: the youth market, the Hispanic\ethnic market and the underserved. It made 21 recommendations in five areas. The group recommended that credit unions should:
* Develop a clear, consistent message with strong appeal so the market can understand and “buy into” what credit unions are promoting. * Do more to serve many markets such as youth, immigrant/ethnic groups and underserved groups. * Learn from “best practices” when exploring growth opportunities; * Free up resources, possibly through collaboration; and * Measure membership growth initiatives with crucial metrics.
The task force made recommendations that would:
* Assist with awareness and image issues; * Look at both a national image campaign and near-term options; * Assist credit unions in reaching out to new markets; * Improve the dissemination of ‘best of breed’ or ‘best practices’ ideas; * Improve back office operations and collaborative efforts the task force recommends; and * Assist in identifying and applying growth metrics.
CUNA Chairman Tom Dorety accepted the report and has directed CUNA staff to review it and report back to the board in September. Immediate past CUNA Chairman Allan Kemp McMorris, who formed the task force, said it “has produced a very timely, thorough and far-reaching report for those focused on membership growth, which today is a core concern of the credit union movement.”