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March 24, 2011

The "Non-Feature" and You: Food for Thought on What You DON'T Do


by Ron Daly 

Everyone loves to talk about value adds. What adds value to your credit union and your proposition to members, both current and new? What features make someone in the market ready to buy what you're selling?

Maybe your value add is actually a "non-feature". What do I mean by that? Well, consider what we're facing as an industry right now. 

Interchange is being threatened. The loss of interchange income may pose a major threat to credit unions and banks alike. The end of free checking has been discussed ad nauseum since the inception of Reg E. And last week, from the Wall Street Journal, this: 

It’s Coming: The $5 ATM Fee

...J.P. Morgan’s retail bank, Chase, is even testing fees of $5 in Illinois and $4 in Texas for people who use a Chase ATM and aren’t a bank customer.

The fees already are big business. As Robin wrote, ATMs generated $7.1 billion in fees last year, according to consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Of that, banks collected roughly $3 billion from charging their customers for using another institution’s ATM.

Expect more banks to raise ATM rates in coming months. Dodd-Frank is limiting some charges that banks can slap onto consumer accounts, and they’re making up for it in other ways.

Wow. A five dollar charge for using the ATM. Is that for you? 

Maybe by charging your usual two bucks (Three? Four? A dollar?), you become the "go-to" ATM around town. Becoming a part of a shared ATM network makes you the "free" ATM for members of other CUs.

My point is you should start bragging about what you're not willing to do to members and potential customers. What an attention grabber that would be!

Picture your billboard/email/poster/bus ad/whatever. It has a list of the major competitors in your area and how much they charge for a basic checking account. And there you are with a big, fat "$0", bragging on your "truly FREE checking".  

What about signs outside your branches that say "Lowest ATM fees in town!"? 

What about a new member bounty campaign that promises current members $10 for each new member they bring you...and those new members are allowed to join for no membership fee. 

While you're on the subject of "what we DON'T/didn't do", talk about how you didn't take any handouts or bailouts. Talk about how don't play games with people's money. Talk about how you DON'T work for the profit - you work for the people. 

 Will this work for Credit Unions? I got the idea when I was at the store. "No preservatives" and "No man-made ingredients". Milk and beef advertised as being "hormone-free". "This product was not tested on animals" shampoo. "No trans-fats in our French Fries" at the drive-thru on the way home. Everything defined by what it's not.

Maybe the credit union difference is, quite literally, a difference - the amount you're left with after you subtract. Start member onboarding on what a Credit Union is(n't) and what it means to be a member as opposed to a customer.

Food for thought...with no MSG added. 

What do you think? Tell us your ideas about "non-features" below. 



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Nice "non-feature" take, Ron. Well stated!

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