How to turn your competitor’s marketing into an opportunity for your credit union.  

Let’s be honest … as a credit union marketer, it can be quite disheartening to watch some of these large institutions roll out massive marketing campaigns. The commercials, billboards, magazine ads, they own the Internet and the airwaves… and that’s just what you’re seeing as an outsider.

However, before you drift off daydreaming of what it must be like to have those kinds of resources… let’s go fishing…


Being out on the water is nothing new for those of us from Tampa. Most grew up fishing out in the bay or gulf. And as spoiled as we may be, seeing dolphins is quite common. But it’s always fascinating to witness a pod of dolphins working together.

Imagine you’re lying in your boat, one eye closed as you begin to doze off, your other eye focused on your fishing rod, just waiting for that sudden bite. Then you hear a little splash. Then another. And soon it sounds like someone is throwing hundreds of pebbles into the water.

You sit up, squinting as you scan the water for the source of the sounds. You see an area on the water’s surface, about 30 ft wide, covered in thousands of small, shallow splashes. Then you see it… one…two…four…seven round fins breaking the surface from all around. A pod of dolphins are working together to create a bait ball.

If you’ve ever watched “Planet Earth” or a similar nature show, you’ve likely seen these events. Predators will surround schools of smaller fish, swimming circular around the school and slowly tighten the circle. Hundreds or thousands of these small fish form into a spherical ball as a last ditch defense. Then the predators take turns swimming through the ball eating as many fish as they can. It’s quite the sight to see – even just from the water’s surface.

So what does this have to do with marketing? It’s all about what happens next…

As you’re fascinated by the spectacle before you, the clear sky suddenly darkens. You look up and see dozens of seagulls blocking the sun, taking turns diving straight into the bait ball. One thing us Floridians know is that seagulls will NEVER miss an opportunity to eat…



Identify the Opportunities

Across all spectrums of your business – not just new member acquisition – there are simple ways you can use the opportunities presented by your larger competitors to enrich your credit union.

For example, Quicken Loans starts hitting your market heavily with low-cost home loan offers. Initially, you think – “how am I going to compete…” Rather, consider what this presents to you. Your members are already seeing this marketing bombardment. Quicken Loans is stirring up the market – getting your members and potential members all thinking about home loans – they’re creating the bait ball.


How to Swoop In & Get Your Fill

Any time your credit union can benefit from the marketing efforts of another organization, that’s huge potential return. Just like the seagulls, you need to be ready to capitalize on these opportunities when they appear.


Here’s a few tips to consider:

  • Need for Speed :: As smaller institutions, credit unions can get approval for campaigns / incentives much quicker. When these opportunities present themselves, be ready to launch a similar offer within a couple days.


  • Go Cheap :: Because the larger institution is paying large sums to stir up the market, you don’t need to invest heavily in your communications. Utilize email marketing, your website, social media, branch flyers and other low cost mediums to reach your members.


  • Expand the Message :: While Quicken Loans may be promoting 1st mortgages, they’ve stirred up thoughts in general about home loans. Expand your communications to touch on HELOCs; using Home Equity for debt consolidation, etc. Blog articles shared across social media are a great way to accomplish this.


Every type of product you offer can fall into this line of thinking – credit cards, home loans, home refinancing, checking accounts, car loans, and mobile banking are just a few examples. Keep an eye out for any opportunities big banks or other competitors present to you.


Go Beyond Just Marketing

While piggy-backing off larger institutions’ marketing efforts definitely has it opportunities – there are other ways you can benefit from the big money of big companies.

Imagine you’re planning a new branch location. You’ve narrowed down the general area for your new branch, but you’re still not sure of the exact spot that would work best.

Turn to companies such as Walmart, Target, grocery stores and others in your community. The amount of money these businesses spend researching the placement of their stores is incredible. And they usually know what the future holds in that area – what roads will be built, new construction projects and so forth.

These companies researched high traffic areas. They know the demographics of people around their locations. And once built, they will attract even more people to those areas – your potential members.

Their investments and planning are so detailed they will spend big money just to be on a specific side of the street. Use their investments to your advantage.


Opportunity Awaits

Don’t let larger institutions intimidate you. Much like the dolphins, they are creating the bait ball for you. It’s up to you whether you act on those opportunities.

At STRATIX, we help credit unions COMPETE & WIN vs Larger Institutions. Interested? Let’s Chat.