WARNING:  This post has the potential to dramatically change the success of your credit union. It also has the potential to feel a bit like a rant, but that is only because I feel passionately about the subject and believe that it has tremendous value for every credit union.

One of the subjects that I have invested a great deal of time in across the past few years is the study of online (internet) marketing. It became a topic of interest for me when I became a partner in a business that delivered weekly summaries of business books via a membership website. It continues to be an interest because of the successes and failures that I observe, and the lessons to be learned from each.

At its simplest level, the world of Internet marketing evolved as a means of delivering information of value to people who could use it (and were willing to pay for it). One of the core concepts in the Internet marketing world is to give away content that people can use as a way to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of their needs and the problems they’re trying to solve.

Providing such useful information to people and giving them the opportunity to raise their hand and let you know they want to receive it is the foundation of the approach. Once you’ve gotten their attention and made a direct connection, you earn the opportunity to share more information with them, and ultimately the right to sell them a solution for the problem that is causing them pain.

So what does this have to do with credit unions?

1. Every credit union has information that people need: from helping people understand the impact of interest rate changes on the cost of their loans, to evaluating alternative rates of return for investments, to learning how to improve their credit score, there is a wealth of information in the minds of your credit union team that can be easily tapped.

2. Every credit member has a problem that they need to solve: whether it’s learning how they can lower their monthly mortgage payment, making sound decisions about their retirement, or finding a way to finance their child’s college education, there are myriad financial questions to which they need answers.

That’s where content marketing comes in.

If you can develop and deliver timely and effective messages that reveal solutions that can reduce the pain your members are feeling, then you will become their provider of choice for those solutions.

So why isn’t every credit union heavily engaged in content marketing?

I think it’s because people believe it is difficult (or perhaps it simply because of our natural human tendency to over complicate things).

The fact is it’s not easy to craft the messages and make all the decisions regarding format for delivery, process of delivery, timing of delivery, and so forth.

But it is simple.

The best way to get started is to do some personal research.

Here’s your assignment:

Start investing at least one hour per day following a handful of online marketers who are creating success by delivering content that solves problems to people who need it. Sign up for a few newsletters, regularly visit some websites, and perhaps enroll in an online course so that you can experience the process firsthand. (I’ll share some specific recommendations in the future posts).

As you follow along, you’ll begin understand how the process works, you’ll see how it adds value, and you’ll learn how you could use it to serve your members better.  Along the way you can make some notes about the things you like, the things you don’t, and the things that are missing. Share what you are doing with your colleagues and talk about it.  Within a few weeks you’ll begin shaping up a vision of how this valuable approach can work for your credit union and you’ll recognize that it’s not easy, but it is simple.

Please come back and post a comment to share any great examples you come across, especially any credit unions or financial institutions who seem to be doing a particularly good job.