Marketing Must Be Seen!

Marketing is not just an expense line; it is a strategic partner as credit unions face challenges adapting to rapidly evolving consumer preferences and technological advancements. By reimagining marketing’s place and purpose, credit unions can attract new members and reshape perceptions among their executives. First, let’s identify what marketing can and cannot control.

What marketing controls:

  • Advertising and Promotion: Marketing can control advertising campaigns across various channels, such as print, digital, social media, TV, and radio, to promote the credit union’s offerings, products, and services.
  • Branding: Marketing can control the development and management of the credit union’s brand identity, including logo design, brand messaging, brand positioning, and the associated behaviors that bring the brand’s mission and values to life in the way employees engage with members, each other, and the community.
  • Public Relations: Marketing can manage the credit union’s reputation and public relations efforts, including media relations, press releases, and community outreach programs.
  • Digital Marketing: Marketing can oversee digital marketing efforts such as website management, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and other online channels to engage with current and potential members.
  • Product Development and Pricing Strategies: While product development may not be directly under the marketing department’s jurisdiction, they often have input into creating and promoting new products and services that meet members’ needs. Marketing may influence product development and pricing based on market research and member insights.
  • Member Experience: Marketing can influence the customer experience by developing marketing strategies that ensure consistency and effectiveness in member interactions and enhance member satisfaction and loyalty.

What Marketing Cannot Control:

  • Regulatory Environment: Marketing cannot control financial regulations imposed by government authorities, which may impact the credit union’s operations and offerings.
  • Interest Rates: Marketing typically does not have control over setting interest rates on loans and deposits, as these decisions are often made by the credit union’s management or board of directors based on various factors such as market conditions and financial performance.
  • Operational Policies: Marketing may not have control over operational policies and procedures within the credit union, such as lending criteria, risk management practices, and compliance requirements.
  • Economic Conditions: Marketing cannot control broader economic conditions such as interest rates, inflation, or unemployment rates, which may impact consumer behavior and the demand for financial products.
  • Competitive Landscape: While marketing can influence how the credit union positions itself relative to competitors, it cannot control the actions of other financial institutions or new entrants into the market.
  • Member Behavior: While marketing efforts aim to influence member behavior, ultimately, individuals make their own financial decisions based on various factors, including personal circumstances and preferences.
  • External Events: Marketing cannot control external events such as natural disasters, pandemics, or geopolitical events, which may impact the credit union’s operations and member relationships.

The C-suite typically has several common expectations from marketing. Here are the eleven strategies that will allow marketing departments to earn the trust and support of C-suite executives.

  1. Member Acquisition and Retention: C-suite executives expect marketing to develop and execute strategies for acquiring new members and retaining existing ones. This involves understanding member needs, preferences, and behaviors to tailor marketing campaigns effectively. A best practice is when marketing partners with the branch and digital channels to own the member growth initiatives and results.
  2. Brand Building and Awareness: Marketing is expected to strengthen the credit union’s brand identity and increase its visibility in the market. This includes maintaining brand consistency across all channels and touchpoints and developing initiatives to enhance brand recognition and loyalty. A best practice is to have a marketing partner with the branch and e-channels to establish service behaviors consistent with the credit union’s mission and values.
  3. Focus on Member Experience: We must agree that credit unions prioritize member experience over profit. Marketing efforts should align with this ethos by enhancing member satisfaction and loyalty. Executives need marketing to demonstrate a deep understanding of member needs and strive to deliver personalized experiences. Whether through tailored communications, intuitive digital platforms, inspiring content defining financial solutions to real-life challenges, or innovative product offerings, marketing must play a pivotal role in fostering meaningful connections with the members.
  4. Product and Service Promotion: The C-suite expects marketing to promote the credit union’s products and services, including loans, savings accounts, investment options, and digital banking solutions. Marketing should highlight and communicate these offerings’ unique value propositions and benefits to the appropriate audiences.
  5. Data-Driven Decision-Making: Marketing is expected to utilize data analytics to inform decision-making processes. The C-suite expects marketing to analyze member data to identify trends, preferences, and behavior patterns, enabling the development of targeted marketing campaigns and personalized experiences.
  6. Digital Marketing and Technology Integration: With the increasing importance of digital channels, the C-suite expects marketing to leverage technology and digital marketing techniques to reach and engage members efficiently and effectively. This involves implementing digital advertising campaigns, optimizing the credit union’s website and mobile app, and utilizing social media platforms.
  7. Measurable Results and ROI: C-suite executives expect marketing to deliver measurable results and demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) for marketing initiatives. This requires setting clear objectives, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), and analyzing the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. The C-suite expects specificity in these reports that demonstrate how the results are aligned with the key ratios the C-suite and board care the most about.
  8. Regulatory Compliance: Marketing must ensure that all promotional activities comply with relevant regulations and guidelines. This includes adhering to consumer protection laws, privacy regulations, and industry standards.
  9. Educate and Collaborate: Marketing departments must engage with executives to educate them on the latest marketing trends, strategies, and metrics. Marketing teams can ensure transparency and accountability by regularly updating marketing initiatives and their impact on key performance indicators. Aligning marketing’s work with the key ratios the C-suite cares about is vital. Additionally, by seeking input and feedback from executives, marketing fosters collaboration and encourages alignment between marketing objectives and organizational goals.
  10. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Marketing is a business unit that serves the entire credit union. Because of this, marketing must collaborate with other departments, such as operations, finance, lending, branches, and IT, to align marketing initiatives with their needs and the broader organizational objectives. This involves coordinating campaigns with sales teams, developing marketing materials for new products, identifying each internal client’s marketing and promotion needs, and integrating marketing systems with customer relationship management (CRM) software and marketing automation software.
  11. Community Engagement and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Credit unions often have strong ties to local communities. The C-suite expects marketing to develop initiatives demonstrating the credit union’s commitment to social responsibility and community engagement, enhancing its reputation and relationships within the community.

By understanding what marketing can and cannot control, credit unions can develop strategies that leverage their strengths while also adapting to external factors beyond their control. This holistic approach is essential for long-term success and resilience in the financial services industry.

Overall, the C-suite expects marketing to play a strategic role in driving growth, enhancing member relationships, streamlining and enhancing the member experience, maintaining the credit union’s competitive advantage, and differentiating it in the marketplace. Effective communication, data-driven decision-making, and a customer-centric approach are essential for meeting this expectation.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at

Leave a Comment