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Are we relevant or just expansionists?

January 7, 2008

Tim has brought up an interesting point about two ways to grow:

1. Become more relevant to your original field of membership

2. Expand the credit union’s field of membership

One of the most important criteria in this decision is what resources your have and how can you deploy them. And this is a major stumbling block when we talk about provincial or national campaigns. If you are large you have ample resources to expand your field of membership. Global awareness campaigns would fit this. But smaller CUs don’t have the luxury of a large budgets or ample HR. Maybe point #1 is the only consideration you can accomplish. That type of focus, that constant attempt to be relevant doesn’t always fit with a larger co-operative campaign. In fact it might make your message seem confusing.

For all the broad brushed attempts at expanding membership, being relevant is the hardest. Products and services are key, the delivery of these is vital. How do you take that cold, technical, database driven function and wrap it around something human, understandable, and friendly to make it relevant? I don’t think there is any single answer. Experience can define what works for your CU. Books and bloggers help.

One way to ‘monitor’ relevance is to very carefully watch the reasons people are opening and members are closing their accounts. I review these functions daily with the biggest question being Why? Why did they open or why did they close their accounts? Most reasons should be out of your control i.e. married and moving out of the area but if they aren’t these become the ‘soft’ areas that you need to get back and work on. And sometimes it becomes something that you can’t help. It hurts but you still exist in a competitive market place and giving away the farm isn’t always in the cards.

Taking care of business is the ever expanding goal of being relevant to your members. I don’t know if you ever arrive or are completely satisfied by the results. What is important is that you don’t give up trying.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 8, 2008 7:23 am

    An insurance executive once said to me (referring to his firm): “We could grow 100% this year if we wanted to. All we’d need to do is lower our rates. Of course, the losses we’d take on all that new business would put us OUT of business by year two, but hey — we would have grown by 100% in year one.”

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