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From our Sponsor: Never Underestimate the Power of Plastic

April 2009 – Vol: 32 No. 4
by Ted Keith

From our Sponsor

Primax logo


Never Underestimate the Power of Plastic
A look at how card programs can help grow your credit union

By Ted Keith

May 1, 2009

In today's economic downturn, your credit union is seriously focused on marshalling its every resource to attract and retain members, while it simultaneously looks for ways to maximize profit. When you put together your strategy, don't overlook the power of plastics (card programs) to get the job done.

The full potential of card programs to grow your credit union is often overlooked. Their power goes beyond the bottom line profit a well designed and executed program can produce. Good card programs keep your members in touch and coming back, and can also be used as an effective means to:

  • attract and retain members,
  • assist in accomplishing sales strategies, and
  • leverage, deepen and expand member relationships.

When you consider that debit card purchase volume is predicted to grow by 94 percent from 2006 to 2010 (Source: Nilson Report, 9/06); that your business members also have card needs; that consumers in general still rely strongly on credit and debit cards; and that rewards programs can be used in innovative ways to drive business, you begin to see that card programs are a powerful tool with strong potential to help achieve your objectives.

Promote and Strengthen Member Relations
When members carry and use your credit union's cards, they have a need to be in routine contact with your credit union. This means it is likely your credit union is already both convenient and "top-of-mind" for the individuals and businesses that comprise your cardholding membership. As additional financial services needs arise, you are likely to rank high on their list of those to consider to fulfill these needs. Add to this the ability cards provide to incorporate loyalty programs that can include incentives for members to use your products and services over those of the competition, and you have a winning combination.

Rewards That Work Hard for Your Credit Union
Use your rewards program to grow your credit union by incorporating features that encourage activities that benefit you and your members. Consider cross-selling and up-selling your products and services by offering rewards (such as dollars or percentage-off discounts, or points) for cardholders who elect to use additional products and/or services—or who refer others
to you.

Further refine your strategy by segmenting cardholders into groups within you membership, such as business members or individuals who have car loans or mortgages, in order to offer relevant and timely rewards based on their needs. These rewards can then be promoted using any number of vehicles, including your Web site, e-mail, statement mailings or lobby signage. In this way, your credit union selects which products and activities it wants to promote and reward while it encourages activities that benefit your credit union.

Give Your Cards Personality
Make your card programs "top-of-wallet" by offering customizable plastics options that foster your brand or allow cardholders to make a strong statement about themselves. Currently available are such offerings as cards that can be customized with any image of the user's choosing, textured plastics and translucent cards. Options such as these--that make your cards unique-is another way you can differentiate your card offerings and encourage the use of your card over another.

Consider offering card programs not just for their bottom line profit, but also for the "stickiness" they create and for the potential they offer to grow your business. Today, affordable outsourcing options make it possible for even smaller credit unions to offer successful, competitive card programs. When considering your options to grow and strengthen your credit union, don't overlook the power of credit and debit card programs to help get the job done.

Ted Keith is president of Primax. Since 1981, Primax has been strengthening the member relations and profitability of its community-minded issuing and agent credit union clients with right-price, right-fit, customizable, high-quality debit, credit, merchant, gift and business card programs, products and service solutions. Please visit primaxpayments.com.

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