member servicesRicky Nelson hosted a Garden Party and informed us "Ya can't please everyone, so ya gotta please yourself." John Lydgate, a 14th-century poet, is credited with "You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” And 21st century phenom has given us "You can’t make everyone happy.... you're not a taco.” Try harder, do more. While we all have a grasp on the concept, it’s very hard to put into practice in real life, let alone your credit union. The idea that we can appeal to everyone is difficult to let go of, as we see the value in the value prop: Serve every member your best, and then the credit union will have excellent growth. This sounds wonderful but, history has shown us, is not possible. In order to matter to the people you’re talking to, you have to show value. And value can be defined very differently depending on the person. So one generic message will never be the right message for all.

Filene Research Institute shared their findings for growth in one of their most recent reports, addressing best practices for growing your membership long-term. And while you can’t effectively serve and sell to everyone, some strategies are more effective than others in offering superior member services to the majority of people, the majority of times:

There is No "We" in Tacos: Not Everyone is Your Target

Once you realize that not everyone is your target member, you can better focus on ones who are. In the world of marketing, this exercise is often referred to as Persona Development. A “Persona” is a fictional representation of an actual member and includes traits, demographics, shared interests and characteristics about this target representation. Personas are vital to the success of a marketing campaign and product offering/development as they drive decisions throughout the organization. They do so by taking member needs and bringing them to the forefront of planning, providing the team with a clear, concise understanding of goals and capabilities of your target market. Then, instead of having to work on programs and services for all possible members, you can focus on doing an exceptional job for the personas that best represent your most common (and lucrative) members.

Let's Taco About It: What Sets You Apart?

When you try to make everyone happy, it’s much harder to set priorities and move the needle for any one group. You end up with lots of "average" as opposed to any true "standouts."  Having a lot of products, that all rank as "average," doesn’t set you apart from competitors and does little to satisfy any member segment. Having a strong value proposition makes your messages more simple, clear and unique. You stand out from the competition when there are things that make you different. For credit unions, this could mean deciding whether to have a focus on efficient operations, innovation (new products), or perhaps emphasis on your exceptional member services. Once you decide what you are focusing on internally, and who you’re targeting externally, then you can really start to make headway and directly work to address those things.

What is "TACO CAT" Spelled Backwards? When in Doubt, Ask

Working with a shorter priority and focus list, targeting a well-defined ideal member target base, where do you go next? Before you set off in a flurry of activity, talk to people who are in the groups you’ve chosen to target. Focus groups are meetings of intentionally selected members to participate in planned discussions to assist you in gathering perceptions about your credit union and product portfolio. We may think we know what they want and need, but many times we’re wrong. Don’t operate on assumptions. With the help of tools such as focus groups, member surveys, or MSRs asking more questions while assisting members, you’ll have more information to use to fine-tune your plans.

With a limited amount of time and resources, people are constantly having to make decisions based on what matters to them. So while it sounds nice to try to be everything to everyone, all that does is create an average experience that nobody wants. Take the time to make some deliberate choices: Who to serve and where to focus. This is where it’s truly possible to be successful resulting in raving fans and strong member relationships. And, of course, highly consider adding Taco Tuesdays to your calendar. 

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Topics: Member Services, credit union growth, credit union marketing

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