Research: Awareness Is First Step To Attracting New Members

Gaining new members requires a two-step sale. First, people need to become aware of what credit unions are and their eligibility to join. Only then can they be sold on a specific credit union. Awareness surveys and other non-member studies are crucial for positioning institutions to succeed with both steps.

Non-member research sheds light on awareness, brand identity and positioning as well as competitive intelligence:

Awareness: Are consumers aware of credit unions in general, of one specifically, and of their eligibility to join? How did they become aware? Do they know credit unions offer the same products as banks with superior service? What do they want from financial institutions?

Before a marketing campaign begins, awareness surveys establish a benchmark and help with targeting. Afterward, they can measure increased awareness.

Brand identity and positioning: Which products are people choosing from which financial institutions and why? For example, do current and potential members know the credit union offers real estate loans and how likely are they to use the institution for such products?

Competitive intelligence: What experiences have non-members had with other credit unions? Members of other CUs are already sold on the concept and only need to be persuaded to switch. Used with non-members, Net Promoter Score research can identify consumers who are unlikely to recommend their current financial institution and thus make good prospects for membership. Most importantly, such surveys can uncover the drivers of advocacy or detraction.

Non-member surveys can also double as lead-generation tools. People who are not getting what they want elsewhere become good prospects. They can also be profiled to find others like them who may be converted into members. With the current financial services crisis, it’s tempting to cut marketing and research funds. Don’t do it! It’s a unique opportunity to attract new members who have become disillusioned with other institutions. Go about it strategically, which means learning all about them first.

Mike Anstead is Vice President of Sales and Service for Member Research. He can be reached at 949-833-6901 or manstead<at>memberresearch.com. (c) 2008 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.cujournal.com http://www.sourcemedia.com