When in target credit union territory, it is often time to think outside the box for growth and financial gain. In the last year Target Credit Union (TCU) has conducted two major mergers, acquiring a rival credit union in the Heartland and expanding with two new credit unions in IL. While in good financial health, Target Credit Union saw an opportunity that the combined strategic value a merger with such a large nationwide credit union as BCU can deliver: the synergies needed to efficiently serve a diverse and geographically diverse national target membership including member retirees, college students and homebuyers, the economies of size needed to effectively service a diverse national target membership including homebuyers and college students, and the opportunity to extend our Great Lakes services to more area communities. The strategy worked well for Target, bringing significant financial and brand equity gains, and positive word-of-mouth marketing that we all need to succeed. But what should business owners, especially small businesses, do to seize the opportunity to grow and profit from their own target credit union?
Targeting your own target credit union is an excellent strategy for growing your business and making positive union relations work for your company. But it’s not just about who you target, it’s also about how you target. Consider a scenario where one of your target credit union members buys a new kitchen appliance, such as a blender or flat-top saucepan. Should you mention this fact to your own target credit union members during your open house?
If you discuss this fact during an open house, will your fellow association members let you know? Will they wonder why your fellow association members bought that expensive appliance? What if the question is “why did you buy that”? Will other members in the room be confused about why they bought that flat-top instead of a blower? When your fellow members make the same intelligent purchase, they will likely praise your generosity, which will bring you new members and more money.
You might think you don’t need to mention the name of your target credit union at all; after all, everyone who belongs to a credit union is a member of the association. However, if you target credit unions based on location, your target audience may include residents of a particular city. For example, residents of Milwaukee, Wisconsin may not want to shop at your grocery store, but they may be interested in a hardware store located in Chicago. It all depends on the target audience and the target message.
How do you target a community or geographic group? One strategy is to advertise your business on the bulletin boards at local churches, schools, recreation centers, and other community centers. In addition to advertising your business, you can leave a card with the receipt for people to take home and print out at their leisure. You can also target certain demographics by including the target language on your mailers and on your Internet site. For example, if you target retired persons, your mailing list can have information such as available dining restaurants or scheduled community events.
What if you are not affiliated with a local organization? You can still target members of target credit unions by the nature of your business. If you offer services that others need, such as repair or cleaning, your target audience may be made up of retirees or active-duty personnel. Your target message should be clear: Do not solicit business from people who are not part of your target market. You may not get the phone calls you were hoping for, but at least you will be able to tell those people who are calling you that they are not part of your target audience.
What if you have already contacted a target credit union and your business is not considered part of their target audience? Some target credit unions have rules that limit the types of services that you can offer to potential members. Inform the target credit union ahead of time that you are interested in working with them and that you would like to learn more about the organization and its member demographics. Sometimes, it is possible to work within a framework of rules that does not require you to break any laws. In other cases, it may be necessary to seek legal advice.
Once you have been invited to become a member of your target credit union, there are many things you can do to promote your business. Make sure that you have an office and that you have access to a printer. Keep the telephone number of your target credit union very well maintained. When the opportunity arises, use whatever methods you can to ensure that the information you submit is accurate. You will soon find that you are in the best possible position to expand your business.