differentiator

The “R” in the DREAM Big Contest: Recreate and Reinforce

Kirk Drake (right) with Mike Lawson at 2017 NACUSO Network Conference

Last week we talked about the importance of differentiating with data … the “D” in Dream. Now let’s begin by talking about the Google machine. I cannot even remember my life before it? Did we go to the library to do research? Pull out our 10 year old Encyclopedia Brittanica? If you’re a Millennial reading this – Google it – it’s a thing.

Anyway- Kirk cracks the code on getting Google’s attention. Put simply, the ultimate goal is to have someone in your field of membership searching for a solution to a problem and bam – you have the answer and land on the top (or near) the first page of responses. So just for fun Google “good financing for a car loan in (insert your city name).” Was your credit union there? If so, congratulations. If not, why?

I don’t know of a credit union out there that doesn’t want to be known as the “trusted resource for financial services.”  How do you earn that trust? Not by product pushing and always leading with rate. Not with clever ads and shiny happy people on your website. It’s about identifying with your target audience and giving them resources, content, information and education, about stuff that has nothing to do with your products and services. A really good example is Point West Credit Union in Portland, Oregon. They were founded in 1932 to serve employees of Multnomah County. After the Great Recession of 2008 they focused their mission on community development. They received their CDFI designation in 2013 and merged two very small diverse credit unions in – NAACP and Hacienda Community.  In 2016 they funded $5.4 million in affordable loans to non-citizens! That’s a real differentiator. They have created a community within their community.  On Point West’s site they have a page dedicated to resources for non-citizens.

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DREAM Big Contest!

After last week’s interview with Kirk Drake, CEO of Ongoing Operations I bought a copy of his new book, CU 2.0: A Guide for Credit Unions Competing in the Digital Age. We are truly fortunate to have this book in our industry. How often do you see a “Credit Union” book on amazon.com?

We give it two-thumbs up, a gold star, the credit union Pulitzer prize.

In the beginning of the book Kirk makes a very valid point.  in 2008, just 9 years ago, we were handed the financial world on a silver platter. Massive bank failures, mortgage loan foreclosures, customers struggling to get credit they needed while the banks raised fees. And yet credit unions market share soared from 7% to 8%. We can probably contribute some of that to the “Bank Transfer Day” Movement led by a non-credit union member in response to her frustrating relationship with B of A. We treated it as a one and done instead of seeing it as the re-charge of the credit union movement.

Why did that happen? Because we continue to operate in the old model which is ripe with over compliance and risk aversion. Credit unions are not known for being innovators. At our very best we are fast-followers. My favorite chapter is “Death by a Thousand Cuts” where Kirk describes the Finctech world in a way that I actually kind of understand Bitcoin now. We are in the business of moving money and yet these Fintech players like PayPal, Apply Pay, Venmo, even Starbucks are “using” our member’s money with little or no regulation to provide the level of service they have come to expect. Right now, in the click of a button or a swipe of my phone I can pay for something or buy something. In the meantime many credit unions still require a “wet signature” on a loan application.

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