Embrace Change, Or Be Prepared For Disaster

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"When the rate of external change exceeds the rate of internal change, disaster is imminent."

— Bill Fields, former CEO, Blockbuster Entertainment

If CUs don't embrace change now, quite frankly, [disaster awaits/disaster is imminent/the light at the end of the tunnel really is an oncoming train]. Blockbuster Entertainment: need I say more?

External change is everywhere. We have changes in regulation. Changes in corporate structure. Changes in expenses (up, e.g., assessments). Changes in loan demand (down). Changes in non-interest income opportunities (fewer). And economists argue the Great Recession is aptly named due to lasting changes in consumer behavior, including deleveraging, enhanced saving, altered views on consumerism, materialism and more. CUs need to make internal change.

How is your CU changing with the times? How are you addressing your members' fears and concerns? How are you addressing your members' new (and different) financial realities? Same old products? Same old delivery channels? Same old messaging?

Now may be the "new normal," but there is nothing normal from yesterday to today. We simply can't bank on the old rules anymore; yesterday's dog just won't hunt anymore.

Now, more than ever, you need to research to gain critical insights your members' needs. Are your members fracturing into "niches" based upon their special interests and behavior? Will generic marketing see diminishing open rates and success? Will leading-edge mobile marketing users steal the market?

How can and must you stay relevant?

Research is a critical tool in your relevance strategy. Member surveys-current, new, and closed accounts-all can potentially help you assess your relevance. Non-member and awareness surveys can also be employed in value assessment. There's not a single research strategy that works for all-except for the global strategy of targeted, well-designed research itself.

Yesterday's blockbuster success may be today's blockbuster failure. Think corporates. Think some large community CUs. Think small, niche CUs. Think mid-size CUs that just didn't keep up. Ask. Learn. Adapt. Reinvent. Stay relevant. Survive. Research. Understand. Change. Thrive.

Mike Anstead is SVP with Member Research, a national CU market research firm. He can be reached at (949) 833-6901 or by e-mail at manstead@memberresearch.com.

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