14SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Jennifer Laud Jennifer is a credit union marketing consultant and the owner of Jennifer Laud Consulting. She has a background in strategy and a passion for positioning credit unions to find their … Web: www.jlaud.com Details Think about the steps you took before making a recent purchase or signing up for a new service. Except for that last-minute treat at the grocery store, you probably spent some amount of time considering your options. You may have started by deciding whether you needed to even make a purchase at all. Then, you considered what was available for solving your need. Finally, you chose a product or service and the business where you wanted to get it.This whole process is the buyer’s journey: a series of 3 major stages leading to a purchase. For credit unions, it’s everything from becoming a member to getting a loan to using bill pay. It includes both potential members and existing members who have needs that are unmet. The buyer’s journey is not a new concept. However, when we’re juggling duties and campaigns, it’s easy to lose sight of how we’re making ourselves available to people who are in different stages.After all, financial products are not impulse buys. Finances are very personal, and people tend to spend a decent amount of time researching their options to see who is going to help them achieve their goals. Investing your time to make sure you are nurturing the right members and potential members along their buying journey will help you get more people to consider your credit union and, ultimately, sign up for your products and services. All you need to do is ask the right questions and be purposeful about the information you share.Start by thinking about your ideal member’s needs, challenges and goals. Let that guide you as you think about the questions they are asking themselves and trying to have answered. With that in mind, here’s how to create an intentional path for your potential buyer that helps them understand what you’re all about and what you can offer them.Awareness stageThe journey begins with the awareness stage. This is when a person is starting to understand that they have a challenge, problem or opportunity that needs addressing. At this point, they’re beginning to look for answers to determine if action should be taken or if they’ll choose to keep the status quo.How do you help people in this stage? Your role here is to shed light on the problem or opportunity so the person comes to a conclusion about taking action or not. Think about what your member or potential member is looking for. You can break this down into a few subcategories such as long-term wealth building and retirement planning, family finances and saving for kids, and rebuilding credit. Offer information that addresses how inaction vs action could affect them and their financial future. If there are misconceptions, this is a great time to debunk them.Research and reports can do a lot of that work for you. If you have numbers available from research studies, your own membership or credit union associations, use it! Checklists, quizzes and tip sheets are also great for helping someone analyze their particular situation.As an example, let’s says Mark and Sandra just got married and were generously given monetary gifts from their family members. Now, they’re thinking about what they could possibly do with it. With the help of a quiz or calculator, they could choose to pay off student loans, save for emergencies or invest for a down payment. Let’s say they have paid off their student debt (go Mark and Sandra!) and would like to buy a house in about 5 years. They’ve identified their opportunity and are now moving towards looking for solutions to help them save for home ownership.Consideration stageNext is the consideration phase. The buyer has a clearly defined problem or opportunity and they are doing their research about best-fit options. Members and potential members will evaluate the different partners, approaches or methods they could use to solve their needs.How can you help people in this stage? You role here is to help the member or potential member get the information they need to select a product or service and a financial partner (hopefully, you!). Think about the categories that the person has at this stage and help them understand the differences. Use the insight you have about how someone researches potential options to help you get your information in front of them at the right time.Guides from experts can be very valuable in this phase. Live interactions or information sessions, podcasts and videos are also great ways to educate. Whitepapers and comparison sheets can also highlight the value of different products or services and your credit union.Back with Mark and Sandra, they know they want to save, but haven’t decided on a product. Likely searches will relate to saving for a down payment and saving in general. They may look at CDs, Money Markets, Roth IRAs and high yield savings accounts, plus all of the places they could get those products. You can help them out by having information online, in your branches or over the phone about the best ways to quickly save for a down payment.Decision stageFinally, we’ve reached the decision stage. The member or potential member is looking at the research they’ve done and analyzing their options. As they look at the pros and cons, they whittle down the options until they are ready to pick a winner. The only thing left is to figure out how they sign up or gain access to the service.How do you fit in to this stage? Consider how someone decides which product, service or partner to do their business with. If there are things that really matter to them, make sure you talk about it so the buyer knows all the value you bring to the table. If there are requirements or additional planning that needs to happen in order to get the product or service, clearly communicate the steps and how they may differ from competitors.Credit unions tend to offer great products and services, so this is a place to shine! Comparisons of your credit union and other local or national options fit in here, as well as comparisons of your product against your competitor’s. Depending on the product or service, demos, trials and consultations can also help you win over the business.As Mark and Sandra look at their list of potential products, they decide they want to invest in a Money Market so they’ll earn a higher rate, but still have some access to the account. With the product selected, they can start looking at financial institutions. Rates are all about the same, but your account opening is simple, member testimonials rave about the great service, the mortgage department offers seminars for first time home buyers and you’re a regular sponsor for events in their neighborhood. These all tip the scale in your favor because they are all things Mark and Sandra care about, so you get the business. Congrats!Turn Members into AdvocatesLastly, don’t forget to continue looking for ways to add value and recognize additional needs and opportunities for members. When you turn members into advocates, they do a lot of the work for you by helping you gain new business through their recommendations. Wherever you can, get to know what your members care about and delight them by supporting their financial needs and helping them achieve their goals.