When it comes to auto loan promotions, credit unions can no longer turn to the same annual marketing strategy, claims one expert.

Instead, CUs should conduct marketing that “engages” consumers, particularly Millennials, says GrooveCar.  

The insights are being shared as part of a CUToday.info series on what to do with unexpected budget surpluses, such as the payment from the NCUSIF many credit unions will receive this year.

“If your auto loan growth strategy is like most credit unions’ nationwide, it is primarily centered around capturing loans at the point of sale with an indirect platform while incorporating the same marketing strategy as the one implemented for the past 10 years,” said Robert O’Hara, vice president of strategic alliances at GrooveCar. “Why continue implementing the same strategy year over year to hopefully hit your target, which inevitably misses because you did nothing new? The best approach, in my opinion, is to use available budget funds on engagement and messaging programs, especially if you want to connect with Millennials.”

O’Hara outlined six steps credit unions can take to boost the auto loan portfolio:

1. Video messaging: “The number one way to engage members is through video storytelling,” said O’Hara. “Unique and easy-to-use software programs are readily available. Many third-party vendors provide customized videos, at no charge, that match your credit union’s branding.”

2. Email marketing: Consistent messaging to members, without bombarding them, is a smart way to have an impact, he said. “Convey information about your offerings, promotions and happenings taking place at the credit union. Get specific and message about your online auto buying program, concentrate on the big picture, not just rate. Eye-catching graphics with a specific messaging will attract your members and get them to visit areas of your credit union looking for that extra exposure. If you have a third-party partner, reach out and let them know what you are doing—many have graphics ready for this specific use.”

3. Social media: Members in various age brackets are influenced by social media and what their friends are saying and advising on social media, O’Hara said. “Make sure your credit union is part of this influential platform. It doesn’t cost anything, but it does take time. Invest in getting followers and engagement on these platforms.”

4. Dealer networks: “This is time well spent. Building relationships with those you do business with is always a good idea and it will pay off,” reminded O’Hara. “Your credit union needs to reach out to your dealers to make sure they are aware of the business your credit union is sending to them.”

5. Promotions: “Run a few promotions a year to draw attention to your auto resource,” advised O’Hara. “Members are buying vehicles, make sure they realize your credit union is in business to help them find the auto of their dreams. This moves beyond rate to promotions that are designed to educate. They will have members thinking about your credit union as a resource for research, shopping—and not just a place to pick up a great rate.”

6. Strategies: “This doesn’t cost any money at all. Invest in business development,” said O’Hara. “Look at areas that need focus. Remember auto loan portfolios are the bread and butter of most credit unions. Nothing sells itself, keep emphasizing and educating the member on all your credit union has to offer. Have a plan of action that includes promoting your auto buying resource, utilizing all the tools of both the credit union and its partners to get the message out. Work with your dealers and partners.”

O’Hara said that if the credit union does not offer an auto buying resource, it should consider the option.

“Invest in making sure members can come to your credit union, for every auto buying need, not just a select few,” he said.

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