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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.

According to Kirk in CU 2.0, “Once you have begun to use data to differentiate and have created a platform that allows you to educate and exhilarate, you can then move on to validation.”

It used to be the “word-of-mouth” validation came from friends, co-workers and families. Now it comes from complete strangers through sites like Yelp! and Facebook and Google.

Point West Credit Union receives the “Juntos Avanzamos” (Together We Advance) award for its service to the Hispanic community.

Again, Point West Credit Union gets it. Social media is a great tool to reinforce their differentiator. Their Facebook page is loaded with fun photos, contests, community involvement. It really reflects their brand. They are not out there pushing products – a big no-no – but rather engaging with their community.

Our goal is not to R & D: rip off and duplicate, but rather find out what works for your culture, members and field of membership (back to the Data in Differentiate).

An easy way to differentiate might be to focus on one product. Having a loan product and being “known” for that product are two different things. Too many credit unions are stuck in the trap of trying to be all things to all people. And I hear it all the time …”Oh WE do mortgage loans.” Really? And do you do them well? Are you the leader in your community? Or does it take forever, your underwriting is impossibly tight and your rates just so-so?

Why not have some fun with it? Why not DREAM big? Have a DIY contest. Members can submit before and after pictures of any week-end project and have the membership vote in social media. Winner gets bragging rights, the golden hammer award and $500 gift card to Home Depot. Can you imagine how much fun you could have with that on Facebook? Dreaming big with CU 2.0 is about having fun again. And continuing to do work that matters.

CONTEST PART! So if your credit union is a superstar on Facebook, we want to hear about it. If you have a following and your members are engaging with you online, let us help you share it with the world. Email your Facebook page to

The winner receives an autographed copy of CU 2.0 by Kirk Drake AND $200.00 off the registration for the 2018 NACUSO Network Conference at Disneyland on April 16th – 19th.