Marketing Miscues: Why Data Is Critical

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ATLANTA-If the credit union is not using data to support marketing decisions, it's not spending marketing dollars wisely.

Moira Shanahan, Cerebrate Marketing president, "cringes" when she learns a CU is simply taking a list of people and slicing it by age, income, or assets. "That does not tell you anything about the buyer or potential member. We like using data to support marketing decisions, and that is about the only way you can guarantee ROI and make the strongest contribution to the bottom line."

That can mean MCIF, or "taking a snapshot in time" of the membership, taking into account things such as street address, what products they have, when they were acquired, and financial data that shares insights into profitability. "We generally look for a model based on multiple products and the amount of time the member has been with the credit union," Shanahan explained.

Taking this approach helps the credit union market internally and externally, emphasized Shanahan. "If you are Walmart you do not suddenly go after Saks Fifth Avenue customers and vice versa. We want to make sure the credit union understands the nature of its best members so it can effectively market inside the credit union and go out with confidence and bring in members who look just like them."

When marketing to existing members, the strategy is the most cost-effective way to drive new business. "Gain a strong understanding of where your existing members stand," stressed Shanahan. "Almost everyone we are talking to is turning to their installed base, and SEGs. It is about looking for pockets of opportunity and using marketing dollars to get marginal members over the hump. It will cost the credit union less and get greater returns if they can get these members more involved."

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