Like most entities found in nature and mankind, the credit union industry experiences lifecycles. These include times of change, growth and contraction. One of the more profound lifecycles to impact the credit union industry in the last twenty years is Select Employee Group (SEG) evolution.

A new white paper (Developing Strategies for SEG Based CreditUnions) published by the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council explores the strategies and tactics used to develop quality SEG relationships and how the business development position plays a critical role in that development. (note: I’m biased on this white paper because I’m one of the co-authors).

“The biggest changes I have seen are that companies don’t recognize the benefits of credit union membership for their employees like they did in the 1990s,” says Pam Griffiths, VP of Marketing with Railroad and Industrial Federal Credit Union in Tampa, FL (26,000 members, $267 million assets) in the paper. “With all the advertising, the general population now believes that credit unions are just like banks and anyone can open an account. So when our business development staff goes to a company, they aren’t as willing to sign up.”

Chelsie Zima, SEG and Marketing Coordinator with St. Mary’s and Affiliates Credit Union in Madison, WI (4,400 members, $33 million assets) agrees with this assessment, adding an extra element of the human touch to the mix. “I believe the concept of business development has gone from offering the best products and services to being the friendliest and easiest to work with,” she says. “We are all in the same market offering very similar products. The differentiator is making true connections with both SEG contacts and their host companies. Without these connections, your credit union is just another vendor.”

Some of the key insights include:

  • Business development in many credit unions is now being done at the branch level (but these branch efforts need coordination and training).
  • For maximum member growth, business development must be viewed as a major strategic initiative at your credit union (and business development is not just a department).
  • Creating an experience for a SEG increases their stickiness with your credit union.
  • Acquiring an agreement up-front might be difficult but improves your penetration success rate.

The paper also covers:

  • Current business development trends
  • Strategic issues
  • Tactical issues
  • Tracking and measuring business development ROI
  • Case studies

So as you start your 2013 member growth strategy, read the “Developing Strategies for SEG-Based Credit Unions” white paper and make sure your plans include of these tactics.