An Inside-Out Branding Guest Post by David Frankil, President of NAFCU Services Corp. (bio)
About NAFCU Services
The National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) represents approximately 800 Federal credit unions. NAFCU Services Corporation is the for-profit, independent subsidiary of NAFCU that works with leading companies including American Express, Securian, Deluxe, Affinion and others, that provide services that help credit unions increase efficiency and productivity in areas such as member retention and acquisition, information security, new products and services and investment advisory services.
NAFCU Services has 28 ‘Preferred Partners,’ including American Express, NCR and SAS Institute, that are focused on financial services in general and credit unions in particular. Program participation requires a fee from Partners, and they have a choice of levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum) with fees and activities scaled proportionately. All profits from NAFCU Services go to the parent association to support their programs.
When I became President of NAFCU Services in July, 2006, it was being run as a typical trade association affinity program, which is to say it was (essentially) a mechanism for giving select vendors an opportunity to support NAFCU programs . In exchange Partners received the right to use a logo, great space at the annual trade show, some networking opportunities with Board Members, and that’s about it – best of luck with sales and marketing. Clearly not a balancing of value from the vendor perspective, and a major reason why many of these programs have high turnover rates and lagging revenues.
Priority One: Create a Solutions
Turning the program around required a
shift in philosophy and strategy to a solutions mindset, making it more
effective for all parties involved. The goal: positioning our Partners as
thought leaders in their respective areas and leveraging marketing activities to
open dialogue and create relationships with prospects.
So the first and foremost responsibility
is for NAFCU Services to understand the challenges faced by credit unions every
day for growth and productivity. Where is the next round of profitable revenue
coming from, how to cross-sell and up-sell Members, how to attract new Members,
and so on. And how to run operations more efficiently, more effectively, more
securely, at lower cost,
We call the process of understanding and
pinpointing credit unions’ challenges—from their point of view—the
Marketing MRI. This involves in depth interviews with credit
union executives, fine tuned with surveys and of course ongoing
discussions with our board. Most importantly we
synthesize what we’re hearing and learning based on our experience in the
Once we understand credit unions’
challenges in a particular area—say member retention, we look for a solution
from within our current roster of Preferred Partners. If not, then we look to
recruit a top quality, market leader to join the program, following a
competitive RFP process that includes an evaluation by an Advisory Committee of
credit union executives.
At that point, we have credit unions A,
B, C perhaps even through credit union Z that need a solution, and Preferred
Partner B that has one. Here’s where that Marketing MRI comes in
Many trade associations have the first
part of this equation, a Preferred Partner-type program with the association’s
stamp of approval. What differentiates NAFCU Services is the second part, where
we (in essence) become a marketing consulting services firm for our Partners,
generating webcasts, podcasts, articles, speaking opportunities, direct
marketing initiatives, recommendation letters, credits for advertising and
sponsorship, and much more. So from a Partner perspective, the value equation
(investment in the program versus value received) is much more
Since I joined NAFCU Services in July, 2006, we have grown revenue by 14%, 15%, and this year an expected 33%. We’ve significantly upsized deal size, and more important, have made our existing relationships far more effective. Key to the success has been instilling that solutions mindset throughout our partners’ marketing and sales teams by developing and leveraging the Marketing MRI approach.
See related post: David Frankil on London, Ink