Brainstorm Your Products!

How often do you use brainstorming as a creative tool?  It is easy to do.  Get five people together from the management team at the credit union and sit down for an hour in front of a white board.  Ask questions and write down the group’s  ideas on the white board.  Brainstorming  can be very productive.  Here are some ideas that you could use to get started.

What do your members need?  What characteristics are unique about your membership?  What does the credit union need?  Do your members need affordable real estate loans? When was the last time you targeted chattel loans?  Remember the computer loan?  Bring it back.  Get your members to think about buying a new laptop and financing it at the credit union.

Do your members want no-fee credit cards with a strong reward program?  What about your bread-and-butter business: car loans, boat loans and recreational vehicles.  When was the last time you did a marketing piece on them?  How can you spin something different about these products?  Second car loans?  Spoil yourself loans?  What about home improvement loans?  Spring is approaching; encourage your members to build new decks or sunrooms or additions and finance them at the credit union.

It doesn’t have to be limited to lending products either.  If you have a competitive rate on a share certificate, think of a creative way to sell it.  Are you offering a bill pay program?  Some financial institutions are even offering a deposit-checks-at-home program.  Do you have a particularly honest membership base?  Build on it.  You know your members better than anyone.  How can the credit union improve their lives even in small ways?

Why not plan to launch a new marketing campaign on a particular loan product every quarter?  Even if a loan program doesn’t get crazy results, who cares?  You’re generating buzz and if you are creative enough, one of these programs will justify what you spend by itself.  Look at how Apple Computer generates so much attention.  It is always launching new products and holding press conferences.  People get excited about Apples’ products.  If you plan in advance, and pace yourself in terms of time and money, you can generate that kind of interest from your field of membership.  Plus it doesn’t have to be expensive marketing.  It can be done through your newsletter, posters in the branch, links on the website and cross-selling on the front line.  You don’t need to hire outside help to do that.

Just the act of sitting down and brainstorming and writing down every idea no matter how silly will generate concepts that will benefit the credit union.  You might even end up with something completely off topic that has more value than loan or savings promotions.  Plus, the excitement you generate in your brainstorming session will spill over to your entire staff.  Try it. What have you got to lose?

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One thought on “Brainstorm Your Products!

  1. Right on, Rob. I couldn’t agree more.

    Have you seen the Ideo Shopping Cart video (the video is tiny on the screen, sorry)? It shows Ideo, one of the most innovative design firms on the planet, going through the product redesign process from brainstorming to implementation. For the initial brainstorming, they have a wide spread of perspectives contributing ideas (not just designers – also anthropologists, biologists, etc). And the key thing: there are no bad ideas. Because even bad ideas can trigger a good idea. It’s just a matter of putting key people in charge of filtration at the end of the day.

    Also, Andy LaFlamme wrote a nice piece along the same lines – on fighting idea silos over at the CU Loop.

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