NAFCU Services: Strategic Plans Boost Success of Association Affinity Partners

This case study is based on conversations with David Frankil, former President of NAFCU Services, the for-profit division of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions.

A Strategic “On Ramp” So Our Partners Will Hit the Ground Running

NAFCU Services Corporation (NSC), the for-profit arm of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU), had a mission is to help credit unions (their members) thrive by identifying innovative solutions for growth and productivity from top-quality, market leaders, from ATMs and insurance products to anti-phishing solutions. The best companies qualify for the NSC “Preferred Partner” designation.

“Our goal is to increase the rate of adoption of Partner solutions by Credit Unions, which helps the Credit Union compete and our Partners gain profitable market share,” said David Frankil, NSC President. “We offer a wide range of marketing and communications opportunities, from events to print publications to webcasts, but for our Partners to maximize return on their efforts with our program, we needed to develop an overarching strategy and plan.”

To provide some context, many trade associations have Preferred Partner-type programs in which the partner receives the association’s stamp of approval and pays for the right to display the logo.

What differentiates NAFCU Services is the second part, where we (in essence) become a marketing consulting services firm for our Partners, generating webcasts, podcasts, articles, speaking opportunities, direct marketing initiatives, recommendation letters, credits for advertising and sponsorship, and much more. So from a Partner perspective, the value equation (investment in the program versus value received) is much more attractive than just having our logo.

David Frankil on Bob London

So we brought Bob London in to create individual strategic marketing plans in partnership with our higher level Partners, i.e., looking at each partner’s value proposition and target audience, honing it to a very fine point, and then mapping those against the available NAFCU marketing tools and channels, from PR to print ads to webcasts and podcasts.   This plan becomes the roadmap for how partners can maximize the value of their investment in NAFCU Services.

Bob London delivered customized strategic marketing plans for nearly 20 NAFCU Services partners—each with a finely tuned format (which we now use internally as our standard marketing planning template!) and insights we might not have had without his independent, objective point of view.

“One of the lessons of this process has been that the development of a strategic marketing plan helps every partner be more effective, whether they are one of the largest players in financial services markets, or an up-and-coming technology innovator.  This is a testament to the value brought to the table by Bob.  In fact, we have added the ‘London Plans’ as an explicit benefit of coming in at a higher level in our Program.”

“The feedback from every Partner, as well as my assessment of the effort, was outstanding and led to tangible results, including the partners’ satisfaction with their NAFCU partnership—well worth the investment to engage Bob London. As a footnote, we even invited Bob to speak at our Annual Conference Preferred Partner meeting in Hawaii on using Web 2.0 tools to get inside the mind of the Credit Union executive, and the program was extremely well received.”

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