Sh!t Credit Unions Say

Have you seen the YouTube video from Summit Federal Credit Union titled Sh!t Banks Say?

Kristen Christian (Bank Transfer Day creator, and hero to thousands of creditunionistas) calls the video “an example of stellar marketing.”

My take: At a minimum, this video is ineffective from a marketing perspective. Potentially, however, it could be damaging to the credit union’s reputation.

Why is this video ineffective?

Because it won’t help it gain new members.

The video might be fine for getting existing members to feel better about the credit union. I don’t find the video funny in the least bit, but maybe some of the CU’s members do. Their opinion is more important than mine.

But for prospective members, this video does nothing.

First, how many bank customers are going to see this and become convinced that they should leave their bank? Answer: Few (and I’m being very generous).

Second, how does the video help bank customers who have already decided to leave their bank decide that Summit is right for them? Answer: It doesn’t.

There’s nothing wrong with using YouTube and humor in your marketing efforts.

It’s a matter of opinion and strategy on whether or not you want to use humor as a marketing approach. There are people in the industry who don’t believe humor has its place in financial services advertising, but all they have are subjective views to back up their position.

The use of video to demonstrate and show off a financial institution and its capabilities can be a powerful influence in the consumer’s decision making process. Unfortunately, Summit’s Sh!t Banks Say video doesn’t support a prospect’s decision process.

Summit does have another video on its YouTube channel, about telling kids about credit unions. This appears to be directed more towards existing members than to prospects, however. And when I checked, it only had 108 views, so it wouldn’t appear that many members or prospects were influenced by it.

The More Potentially Damaging Aspect

There is something else about the Sh!t Banks Says video that I believe could be damaging to the credit union’s repuation. Roughly 30 seconds of the 2 minute video is dedicated to bashing banks for their fees.

What’s that saying about people who live in glass houses?

A quick look at Summit FCU’s fee schedule reveals that the credit union charges:

  • $10 per quarter for inactive accounts. So if you open an account and don’t do anything with it, the credit union will charge you $40 over the course of a year. For doing nothing.
  • $5 for early account closure. Decide there’s a better place for your money within six months of opening an account at Summit? It’ll cost you $5.
  • $20 per hour for statement copies for the previous quarter. I’m not sure who long it actually takes someone at Summit to do this, but the minimum charge is $5. And there’s also a $1 interim statement fee.
  • $5 per month for account maintenance. This fee might not apply depending on the member’s benefit program level. But it’s still a fee.
  • $5 for check copies. Online check copies are free, however.
  • $5 for non-members to cash a check. If the non-member is older than 23, that is.

And the list goes on and on and on and…well, you get it.

The hypocrisy of Summit — and let’s face it, lots of other credit unions, as well — to bash banks for charging fees when its own fee schedule is no better is a shame. Any prospective member who does her homework on the fee schedule should be outraged by the implied claims of the Sh!t Banks Say video.

Each year, Forrester Research surveys consumers and asks them to rate their banks and credit unions on customer advocacy — the extent to which the FI does what right for its customers and not just its own bottom line. Year after year, credit unions score higher than banks on this metric. 

The hypocrisy of the Sh!t Banks Say video isn’t going to put much of a dent in those scores. Mostly because so few people will see it. But if credit unions, as a whole, continue to deploy this marketing technique, it might backfire and harm their collective reputation. 

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