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How Credit Unions Can Improve Their Marketing Efforts Through Advocacy


We interviewed Mark Thompson, VP of Growth and Brand at Mazuma Credit Union, about how credit union marketing can be positively impacted by community and member advocacy, and the importance of creating a strategy to reach the millennial audience. 


Let's start by talking about how credit union culture has changed over the past decade. 

I think that from the standpoint of Mazuma, I think where we're going is we're trying to instill giving back to the community in three different ways. We're trying to give back financially. We've created a foundation this year trying to interact with the community. We've given back twenty thousand dollars in our first year to the credit union, to organizations. We're also giving back our time. We have a forty hours for good program where all of our employees are paid forty hours to volunteer in the community with different organizations. Forty hours a year. It comes up to about seven thousand two hundred dollars a year. Obviously we don't have 100% participation, but we usually average about 1,800 - 2,000 hours a year that we volunteer in our community. And we're also giving back our space. We have three different community rooms at our branches that we give free if organizations are looking to have a meeting or some sort of an event that gives back to Kansas City community. 

So what do you think have been some of the obstacles that you've seen in terms of implementing some of these programs? 

Well obviously we have to have coverage for the member experience at our branches. So finding those organizations that are flexible in the volunteer hours that we have, that has been quite a challenge. We've had to have probably 40 or 50 different organizations that we volunteer with in order to accommodate our staffing and make sure that we're able to give back to our members the service that we need to give back. 

What would you say needs to be on the minds of credit unions going forward? What things should they be paying attention to right now so that they don't get left behind? 

Well I think everybody, and I'm sure you have heard this numerous amounts of times at the conferences, but it's millennials. How do we touch base with millennials, make sure that we're connected with them. How do we market to them. Making sure that we're able to provide the services that they need, when they need them, and how they need them. 

How has that dialog gone at Mazuma? What are the tensions that you try to wrestle through to find the solution to that problem? 

We have a CUSO group that provides us with social media. We're able to provide a lot of different resources for millennials with regards to financial literacy, understanding how their finances are going to make a difference for them in the future. So we have worked with the marketing group to come up with particular programs and campaigns for that. 

Fascinating, so these are educating programs? Are they in branch? How do they work? 

Well most of them are online. We're going to be working through more of an online type of delivery to the particular millennials with their services and with financial literacy. 

So is it like "Here's how to buy your first home." Is that the kind of thing you're talking about? 

Yeah, exactly. We're about to do our second seminar for a first time home buyer, lunch and learn type of scenario where we will give our community room to the mortgage team that we have on staff and they will provide a lunch and learn to educate people on how to go from renting to owning a home. 

So anybody in the community can come to hear this presentation, and it's complemented with digital materials?

Yes, that's correct.

What has been your main role there at Mazuma, and what have you done and what do you hope to do? 

My role with the credit union is business and community development, as well as marketing. So my role is to continue through the mission statement of Mazuma to making Kansas City a better place to live, work, and bank. How do we do that? We're trying to deliver different ways to different demographics to make sure that we're connecting with those particular people. 

Banker's Guide to Digital Advocacy