Community Outreach during National Small Business Week

 

2021’s National Small Business Week is coming up. From May 3 to May 9, communities come together to highlight the importance of entrepreneurs and small business owners across the US. And this is also a great time for your credit union to perform some targeted community outreach.

Let’s discuss some tips and ideas for celebrating small businesses with your credit union resources.

Why Celebrate National Small Business Week?

Credit unions are (or should be) seen as more than just banks – they are financial institutions with close ties to the communities they serve.

Recently, it’s been reported that credit unions are losing out on opportunities to serve small businesses, due to the rise of fintech like Square and Stripe and larger institutions’ increasingly focused efforts to capture the small business owner’s attention.

But credit unions are uniquely positioned to help small businesses, which means you should be using that positioning to your CU’s advantage!

Celebrating National Small Business Week is a great way to build relationships with local entrepreneurs.

Sponsor an Awards Competition or Spotlight

Small businesses need many things, but one of the biggest things they need is quality “air time”. They need people and businesses in the area to talk about their brand, products, and services to help spread the word and drum up more business. And that’s never been more crucial than right now.  

Millions of small businesses closed temporarily or permanently due to the COVID pandemic, and entrepreneurs need someone to start talking about them again. Credit unions are a great partner in this effort.

There are many ways your credit union can highlight local businesses, and during National Small Business Week, one great way to do this is to host a spotlight or awards competition for local businesses. Businesses can sign up to participate or be nominated by a social media comment or event share, and then you can use a preferred platform to spotlight each business and its purpose. After the spotlight, you can also create polls or contests to let your community members participate in choosing the winners. You can use the Small Business Association’s list of awards as a starting point or you can make up your own!

Create a Tradeshow or Event

This one is a bit more time-consuming, but your credit union can also sponsor or host an event where you allow small businesses to set up a booth for a small fee.

Not only does this generate business for you and the participating businesses, but it’s also an engaging way to promote your credit union’s brand as community-centered. Attendees will associate your credit union with fun “shop local” initiatives, thus increasing the visibility of your brand.

Host a Panel or Discussion Group

Small business owners often feel like their concerns aren’t heard in the same way that big businesses are. To combat this, you can host a roundtable, discussion group, or dinner event for local entrepreneurs.

This gives small business owners a chance to network with you and other area businesses and share their struggles, triumphs, and insights with like-minded individuals. It also shows these businesses that you and your credit union are open to building meaningful relationships that will benefit your business and theirs.

Upgrade Your Software to Compete with the FinTechs

Big businesses aren’t the only ones that can upgrade their software and score more customers. IMS Integration is dedicated to helping you bridge the gap so you can compete with the big guys while still staying focused on serving the little guys in your community.

IMS Integration is here with a full range of credit union software solutions to take your problem-solving effectiveness to the next level.

Request a consultation today for more information about our credit union solutions.


Credit Unions Offer Unique Post-COVID Solutions

 

Since credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit institutions, many have created new pandemic-centric programs. Here are some of the post-COVID solutions CUs are offering to help their communities while generating business. We’ve also included a unique opportunity for credit unions looking to add to their offerings.

Short-Term, Low Rate Personal Loans

Credit unions have stepped up to help their members by offering 3-month and other short-term loans at or near zero percent interest. These short loans are often called pandemic relief loans.

Individuals and businesses are using them to bridge the gap caused by lost wages and reduced business. These “small dollar” loans are being compared to stimulus checks that each individual gets to control and define.

Financial Counseling

Unlike big banks, credit unions don’t take advantage of their customers’ financial ignorance. Though this isn’t a new offering, offering financial counseling is a major asset right now. No one was prepared for a pandemic or its effects, but punishing customers for their lack of knowledge creates brand distrust and hurts your bottom line and your customers’ livelihood. Credit unions have adjusted hours and protocols to offer one-on-one counseling to their members throughout this crisis.

Financial counseling is another example of how credit unions have been focused on helping their communities well before COVID-19.

Waiving Fees

Though it seems counterintuitive, many CUs were encouraged to waive fees. Eligible fees include ATM withdrawals, early withdrawals on timed deposits, credit card balances, loan balances, late payments, and more.

Increasing Credit Card Limits

CUs are increasing credit card limits to accommodate the lack of cash flow from shutdowns and decreased capacities. This solution does not include all memebrs. However, increasing credit for trusted borrowers creates business for the CU and eases the financial burden temporarily for members.

Deferring Payments

Similar to the pandemic relief loans, credit unions are also generously deferring monthly payments. Members are grateful for the choice to defer a payment for one month, giving them time to recover lost finances.

IMS Integration’s software includes Skip A Pay, which can help your credit union easily process these deferments.

Bonus: Small Business Service Opportunity

Nearly six in ten small businesses said they’re at least somewhat likely to look for a new banking relationship in the next year, according to this Forbes article. Many of these small businesses accept upwards of 10 different payment types. But why does this matter to your credit union?

Processing these payment types through a third-party service includes fees. These fees make it even harder for small businesses to turn a good profit. And as COVID measures continue to affect the economy, small businesses are looking for ways to cut costs. This is where the opportunity comes in: credit unions should consider providing accounting and payment services to SMEs (small- and medium-sized businesses).

Offering these services generates business for you and provides your local business owners with a valuable service.

Final Thoughts

Though it feels like things are shifting toward a new normal, many of your members are still struggling to adapt to the changes caused by COVID-19. By now, nearly all government-mandated relief efforts have ended.

This creates a huge opportunity for your credit union to re-evaluate programs and pick up that slack to help your communities bounce back even faster. These efforts also generate business, so it’s really a “help us help you” situation.

Upgrade Your Software Today

IMS Integration offers unique solutions of its own for credit unions. Contact us to learn more about how our member-facing web solutions can help you better serve your members.