ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (10/14/11)--A checking account usually defines which financial institution consumers view as their primary financial services provider. And, with the widespread discussion by consumers, media and financial institutions on debit card fees the past few weeks, the time is ripe to market checking accounts, according to a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based credit union service organization (CUSO). "Now is the perfect time for credit unions to market their free checking accounts and win consumers who are not willing to pay new fees being assessed by their banks," said Kari Anne Arnosk, PSCU Financial Services' director of strategic consulting. The CUSO offers several tips to help credit unions expand market share and boost member loyalty.
* Launch direct mail campaigns that target non-members and members who do not have a credit union checking account. The added issue of free vs. fee will draw attention to the credit union, said PSCU Financial Services. "Plan to conduct several marketing campaigns a year that not only differentiate your credit union from the big banks, but also position your offerings as the most consumer-friendly." Adapt the credit union's messaging to attract target groups such as 18- to 24-year olds. Historically, January, spring and back to school season have been prime promotion periods. However, national coverage of rising bank fees has publicized credit unions as a safe haven for consumers. Therefore, it's important to act quickly to capitalize on this opportunity to gain checking account market share, said the CUSO. * Develop a multi-channel marketing approach. Free checking needs to be actively promoted on the website, in newsletters, through branch collateral and at the teller window, said the CUSO. Develop a product comparison chart that outlines the benefits of your checking account when compared with other local or national accounts. Incent staff to promote checking accounts at every opportunity. If the credit union decides to offer a special promotion, make it a competitive cash offer that requires direct deposit, eStatements, loan or credit card balances, first mortgage or deposit balances. * Offer several types of different checking accounts, but keep your checking products simple and easy to understand. An optimal checking portfolio includes free non-interest-bearing checking as well as interest-bearing checking accounts for those who fulfill other requirements such as higher minimum balances, direct deposit or use of other credit union products. * Offer multiple ways for members and non-members to open accounts. Allow members to open accounts at branches, at a call center, and through a fully automated online solution. Also provide members with convenient tools such as mobile banking that equip them to manage their accounts.
PSCU Financial Services is owned by more than 680 credit unions representing 16 million credit, debit, prepaid, online bill payment and electronic banking accounts. It offers consulting services that help optimize checking products and promotions to members and non-members