No One Cares About 'Membership?' Two Big Firms Seem To Disagree

I'd like to give some feedback to the question posed by Frank J. Diekmann in one of his most recent editorials.

In the nine years since I've moved to the U.S. from Australia, I've attended credit union conferences and meetings in just about every state and listened to hundreds of speakers.

Many of these speakers have talked about how most existing and potential members don't care whether we are member owned and don't care whether they are members or customers. They also talk about how the word "join" is holding us back.

I've heard speakers talk about how credit unions need to focus on treating members more like customers and less like members. I've heard speakers talk about how young people in particular don't care that credit unions are member owned financial institutions.

I've listened politely to these speakers, but have never believed what they were saying is correct. And it seems that two major financial players have decided that what we call "the credit union difference" is a major advantage when designing their most recent marketing campaigns.

My first example is Nationwide Insurance. Nationwide is running a series of television commercials that talk about an "invitation to join," "becoming a nation of members" and "putting people before profits because we don't have shareholders"

Check out its latest commercials at: http://www.nationwide.com/nationwide-commercials.jsp.

My second example is American Express. Amex is running a series of television commercials with the tagline "That's the membership effect," and when talking about their exceptional service they say "this is the reason we don't have customers, we have members."

Check out its latest ads at: http://www.youtube.com/user/AmericanExpress.

I'm guessing that Nationwide and American Express did some market research before spending millions of dollars on these marketing campaigns. For those credit unions that promote the credit union difference, the message has got to be-keep doing it.

For those credit unions that don't promote the credit union difference, perhaps it is time to revive your credit union difference message.

Mark Lynch, Field Coach

REAL Solutions

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.