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Credit unions and the progressively retro approach to local sustainability

first_imgOne of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” What started off as the muted whisper of our nation’s countercultures, struggling entrepreneurs and whimsical youth has slowly grown into a deafening roar that can be heard all over the country. Whether you live in a rural town or you hang your hat in a major metropolitan city, the call to action is the same: Support your local small businesses!The Support Small Business MovementIt’s a good day to be a credit union—your time has come (again). Our culture is turning from the global phenomenon of multinational conglomerates and refocusing on sustaining our local economies.This is exactly the environment credit unions and other community institutions were designed for—focus on the welfare and prosperity of your members in your community. As a credit union, your excitement level should be akin to those five lucky kids that first glimpsed the inside of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (and I’m talking about the 1971 classic, not that 2005 monstrosity).Chances are that members of your local community have already rallied to form a fresh, new organization that is taking progressive measures to promote the “new-again” idea of local philanthropy. Some examples of these groups include the Austin Independent Business Alliance (AIBA) and the Local First Street Party in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Similar groups can be found all over the country in towns and cities like Santa Cruz, Portland, Concord, and my personal favorite, the social media driven Cash Mobs.Even American Express has jumped on this local support bandwagon by initiating the “Small Business Saturday” movement, founded in 2010, which encourages patrons to shop at local, privately-owned, small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Moreover, AMEX has an entire campaign called “Shop Small” that encourages consumers to shop locally every day.Your Call to ActionWhy is this important to you, the credit union, and why the big push for local commerce? There are several reasons (fostering entrepreneurship, civic participation, social wellbeing, etc.), but most agree that the biggest benefit is keeping dollars in your local economy.There have been several studies on this, and it basically comes down to local economic multipliers. In other words, your dollars go into the local business and, in turn, their dollars go to local suppliers, which then translates to more local jobs and regional, economic stability. With large chains, much of that revenue is funneled out of the community (and out of your credit union).So credit unions, what is your call to action, and how do you benefit from this movement?1. Join a Small Business GroupFirst, find your respective small business group and join it (if you haven’t already). If one doesn’t exist or it’s the same old group that has been around for several decades, well, what a great opportunity for you to start a new group and make a statement in your community.2. Educate Your Credit Union MembersSecond, educate your members. As a local financial institution you have a strong voice with resources to yell, loudly. Spread the word and give your members something to think about when they consider their next purchase.3. Develop Promotions and CampaignsFinally, put your money where your mouth is—literally. Develop promotions and campaigns that incent your members to shop locally. You have transaction data at your fingertips, so embrace this opportunity to get some meaningful use out of it. Imagine the campaigns you can create to attract Millennials when you offer rewards, coupons and financial incentives based on their transactions at local businesses.Better yet, consider the conversations you can have with the local small businesses you are trying to attract when you can show them a new plan to drive revenue through their doors! Do you think that will get the attention of Mama’s Diet-killing Cupcake Shop on the corner? Mama may not count calories, but I bet she counts her register.And here’s the icing on the proverbial cupcake—you don’t have to track these campaigns manually, hire a programmer or implement some complicated solution with new hardware. There is a company available, right now, with a solution to get you started, quickly. I know because I happen to work for said company. Contact me anytime because I can talk about this stuff for days. Seriously…for days.Credit Unions, This is Your MomentAll joking and shameless plugs aside, I meant what I said. It’s a good day to be a credit union. This is your moment, your golden ticket, your opportunity to light a fire around the small business movement that can be seen from space. With just a little creativity and leadership, you can become a beacon for your community. Don’t just get involved, get entrenched! 36SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Damien Hayes Damien Hayes is the Senior Revenue Consultant at Saylent Technologies,Inc. with over 15 years of experience working with banks and credit unions. Today, Damien puts his energy into working … Web: www.saylent.com Detailslast_img read more

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What’s on the horizon for credit unions and credit cards?

first_imgLoyalty programs are undergoing changes on all fronts. American Express announced a new mobile app that will allow membership rewards to be used at the POS, presumably at a devalued exchange rate. Starbucks changed their long-standing rewards program by issuing “stars” based on dollar spend, rather than the number of transactions, causing some consternation among Frappuccino and Oprah Chai aficionados. The way credit and debit card issuers who offer loyalty programs view rewards is also coming under scrutiny.Loyalty programs offered by issuers have existed since the 1980’s, with the primary goal to keep one issuer’s card at the “top of wallet” over other cards. Every time you reach in your wallet, you have a choice of which card to use for that transaction – your credit union wants you to choose their cards, and offering points per dollar spent, which can later be used to purchase gifts, travel, or in some cases, cash back, is the incentive offered to you to use their card.However, mobile apps, Apple/Samsung/Android Pay, and online wallets, have radically changed the dynamics or staying “top of wallet”, since you no longer pull out your physical wallet and make a choice at the POS. Instead, you enter card credentials when you first set up your wallet, and the first card you load becomes the default. The incentive to stay “top of wallet” needs to change to incentive to stay “top of phone”, with the overall goal still the same – choose one issuer’s card over another when making a transaction.Loyalty programs have always been about incenting consumer behavior. Credit unions need to rethink what behaviors they are trying to incent. For example, offering points for loading a card into Apple Pay is a start, but that doesn’t mean that the card is now the default. Offering bonus points for three transactions over $25 is a more assured way to cause the behavior change – hopefully the cardholder has made the credit union card the new default. continue reading » 27SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblrlast_img read more

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