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More than half of credit unions lost members in the last year

Credit unions can gain members by focusing on what their customers need most.

While many individual credit unions have grown this year, slightly more than half of them had fewer members at the end of June than they did a year before, according to information from the National Credit Union Administration. Across the U.S., 54 percent of credit unions lost members between the second quarter last year and the end of the second quarter this year.

Many states - 25, in fact - had negative median membership rates. New Jersey credit unions had the greatest median loss at -1.8 percent.

Luckily, the decrease in 25 states was balanced by membership growth in the larger credit unions. Organizations in Alaska had the highest median growth rate at 2.3 percent during the second quarter, followed by Idaho at 2 percent. The national average median membership rate at the end of the second quarter was -0.4 percent.

Marketing to boost membership
Smaller credit unions don't need to fear that their smaller budgets mean losing members. Large sums of money aren't needed for smart marketing plans.

To revamp your marketing, the NCUA recommends conducting a member survey to pinpoint your members' needs. Giving away prizes or including some type of incentive will boost participation in the survey as well.

Credit unions can then focus on promoting their current products and specials through their employees. The workers your members see every day are the people who truly need to understand what the credit union has to offer, because they're the sales people on the front lines every day.

Another price-effective means of marketing is to build a good relationship with the local media. Someone at the credit union can get to know the local reporters and provide them with positive story ideas about the community, NCUA recommends.

Additionally, credit unions can designate one employee to focus on a social media account. Social media sites are free to use but can improve an organization's relationship with a community, while increasing member engagement and referrals.