Inside Marketing: New Year, New Growth Strategy

small business owner works on laptop while preparing packages for customers
By Kendall Carwile

3 minutes

Credit unions can reach untapped markets to foster small business success.

As credit union leaders reflect on the past year and look toward the new year, growing deposits will continue to be a priority. Deposits are the lifeblood of any financial institution, and emphasizing deposits in 2024 is key to long-term growth and stability.

There is an opportunity for credit unions, as community-driven entities striving to serve their members, to further deepen their local ties and community relationships while growing deposits and serving a market previously underserved or untapped: small businesses.

Understanding the Specific Needs of Small Business Members

To thrive in today’s competitive financial services sector, credit unions must expand their offerings to include solutions unique to SMBs that drive operational efficiency.

Consider offering business-specific accounts with comprehensive digital banking abilities that mimic the retail banking experience. Offering features attractive to business owners, such as low fees and higher deposit limits, can help secure small business members. Providing business credit cards with unique treasury management services allows for easy tracking of business expenses. Other services like integrated accounting software, remote deposit capture and fraud protection can also help credit unions stand out in an increasingly competitive landscape.

While many FIs focus on gaining new deposits, credit unions that prioritize serving their current members beyond traditional banking services with comprehensive small business banking solutions can both gain and retain valuable deposits. According to 2022 BAI research, “most business owners use the same financial services organization for their personal accounts, confirming the importance of convenience.” For many credit unions, this reveals a missed opportunity for cross-selling and growing account holders from single product to multiproduct users.

Providing the Personal Touch

Credit unions have a unique advantage in fostering relationships with small businesses due to their community-centric approach to banking. Serving small business members goes beyond simply providing financial services; it involves understanding their challenges, goals and aspirations. Offering tailored financial solutions, paired with personalized advice and quick decision-making that only a community-focused financial institutions can provide, solidifies the credit union’s position as a trusted partner for small businesses.

Credit unions can also act as financial advisors, providing insights into spending and payment patterns based on account activity. Utilizing account data, credit union leaders can suggest certain products or solutions that would be valuable to small business owners to build their businesses and overall financial wellbeing. Many business owners are looking for guidance when it comes to the financial health of their business and having a resource who might live in their community, or even frequent their local business as a patron, can build trust and increase member loyalty.

Engaging with Small Business Members

When credit union leaders plan their marketing strategies, they must start with ensuring that the members they are communicating with will truly benefit from the solution. Making sure that all communications are relevant and have an impact helps with brand reputation and will make small business members more likely to engage with any future promotions.

Credit unions should be viewed as insightful partners for SMBs. Creating educational content that lives on the credit union’s website is a wonderful way to engage with business owners who are actively looking for advice on financial services. Credit unions can include a plug for their small business services at the bottom of a relevant blog post or providing a link to connect with a service representative to learn more.

It is imperative to meet business owners where they are. As previously mentioned, credit unions have a unique advantage that allows them to foster relationships with the small business leaders who live and work in their communities. Attending local events or joining local business associations, chambers of commerce or industry groups can be a great way to connect and promote business solutions.

Creating content that highlights real small business member success stories to share with potential or current members looking to expand their banking relationship is also a great tool to promote small business banking solutions. Whether it’s a tried-and-true case study or a member spotlight series, bringing attention to the impact of these unique solutions is a powerful way to market these unique services.

By providing financial services that foster entrepreneurial mindsets, credit unions can create a sense of belonging and support that resonates with small business owners and will encourage them to instinctively choose that credit union for their financial needs.

As credit union leaders navigate the complexities of the upcoming year, targeting small business owners is imperative. Through supporting small business members and growing valuable pre-existing relationships, credit unions can position themselves as indispensable partners for small businesses while playing a pivotal role in fostering the growth and success of the communities they serve.

Kendall Carwile is an account agent at William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or its blog.

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