Study Offers 15 Steps Toward Effectively Getting SEGs

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Millions of Americans who could join credit unions haven't, for a variety of reasons. A new study seeks to provide strategies for turning those non-members into members.

The study, published by the Filene Research Institute, is entitled, "15 Steps to an Effective SEG Program, was developed in conjunction with The Center for Credit Union Innovation, LLC, and analyzes the body of research available on the subject of SEG recruitment and retention. Bob Hoel, executive director of the Filene Institute, will elaborate on the research during remarks before The Credit Union Journal's SEG & Business Development Conference in San Diego March 10-11.

The new research includes one-on-one interviews with credit unions; focus groups with credit unions; and surveys of members and nonmembers by CUNA Market Research with funding from the National Credit Union Foundation and The Ford Foundation.

According to the Filene Institute, the 15 Steps monograph distills that research to a compendium of steps to an effective SEG program. Key components of the overall project are a survey of SEG liaison individuals and surveys of member and nonmember employees of SEG groups.

The authors note the steps can be categorized into three main groupings.

The first of these groups involves the credit union's relationship with the sponsoring company or organization:

* Implement a written credit union/SEG agreement.

* Position the credit union as an employer profit enhancer.

* Appeal to key employer decision-makers.

* Explain the greater business services opportunity.

* Demonstrate that employees want financial education.

* Build effective employer support for the credit union.

* Target, specialize, and focus on selected SEGs.

A second major category of steps to an effective SEG program involves communication with and recruitment of employee members. According to Filene, this group includes the following steps:

* Incent member enrollment, not contracts produced.

* Dedicate significant resources to the SEG program.

* Build employee awareness to achieve success.

* Offer a "can't miss" product to build membership.

* Use credit union ambassadors effectively.

Filene said the third grouping of steps to success involves reaching out to the wider community, and includes these activities:

* Pursue a special SEG strategy if yours is a community credit union.

* "Join the country club."

* Sponsor activities that build community and awareness.

"Taken together, these 15 steps offer an organized, realistic, and affordable approach to building credit union membership through select employee groups," Filene said.

"With credit unions' enhanced powers comes increased responsibility as well," observed the Filene Institute's Hoel. "If credit unions are to continue their drive to become major players in the consumer finance industry, they must use sophisticated marketing techniques that will make membership attractive to the newly enfranchised millions now eligible for membership. This paper offers an array of tools with which to pursue that goal."

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