Pandemic – Marketing Needs to Talk!

Like you, I have received several emails, seen numerous Facebook and Twitter posts on how banks and credit unions are handling the Coronavirus. Typically these posts and emails start with something like, “We care about your safety…” and then they talk about how they are making banking safe by cleaning their branches and protecting their staff. 

Most credit unions I work with have a mission statement. It is not uncommon that this mission statement includes a phrase like, “…helping our members be financially secure,” or “…helping our members become successful.” Is cleaning your branch the best way to realize your mission?

Is this what members are looking for from your credit union at this time?

First, let’s consider what your members are facing today:

  1. School closures – how are they going to care for their kids when they can’t go to school?
  2. Remote work from home – do they have the right connectivity and equipment, and how do you mix working from home with kids at home?
  3. At-risk members – are they afraid to go to the store or even to the credit union?
  4. Hourly wage and tip workers – with entertainment and sports venues, restaurants, bars, schools, etc., closing they are losing income. How are they going to pay their bills?

I know this is just a partial list, but consider what your credit union can do that would help members manage these pandemic related stressors. 

The Apple Card announced you could skip your March payment without additional interest. Considering this is Goldman Sacks, this is amazing. Can your credit union make the same kind of generous offer? Can you one-up it? Recent stories indicate this pandemic could last three to six months. Could your credit union survive if they forgave three months of credit card interest for members that are financially struggling with a loss of income or increased expenses due to the school closures and the business they work for shuttering temporarily?

Could you offer a “free” skip-a-pay for auto and personal loans?

Could you reach out to your members to re-introduce your on-line and mobile banking offers? To support this, you could take some of your staff that may on shortened hours or are seeing reduced activity in the branches to be assisting members with questions on how to sign up for and use the digital channels? Can you identify a drive-thru location or deposit-taking ATM near where they live to help them do their banking? Can you extend your call center hours to help members connect with you as they struggle with today’s financial realities?

Could you broadly message to members to call you for help as they deal with difficult times, financially?

Your strategy is to be:

  1. Frequent
  2. Simple
  3. Transparent
  4. Truthful
  5. Sincere

And most important < = > (less equals more.) So many of the pandemic posts and emails I have seen have four or five paragraphs. Keep your message concise. No one wants to read four paragraphs when they are feeling stressed.

Now, during this time of financial uncertainty, credit unions can differentiate themselves in their chosen markets. They can live their mission and demonstrate their unique value to the community. They can make a real difference in their members’ lives. Don’t let this opportunity slip by without proving you are different from the bank down the street!


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

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