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It’s easy to spot a common aim among the three professionals selected for individual honors by the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council: They all pursue growth with a purpose.
Joye Cox, who recently retired as vice president of marketing at $671 million asset SAFE Federal Credit Union, Sumter, S.C., is the 2011 Hall of Fame inductee.
Cox helped found the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council and twice served on its executive committee during a credit union marketing career that began in 1984 after stints as a newspaper reporter and public relations professional.
During her tenure, SAFE Federal’s membership grew from 36,800 to more than 100,000, while assets increased from $64.5 million to $671 million.
Cox cites the addition of seven underserved areas to SAFE Federal’s field of membership from 2000 to 2009 as her greatest marketing accomplishment. The seven underserved areas produced 20,000 new members and accounted for 51% of the credit union’s 2010 membership growth.
Under Cox’s leadership, SAFE Federal was the first South Carolina credit union to use a marketing customer information file system (in 1992). She also implemented the credit union’s first website and served on the committee that developed the credit union’s eMember program to deliver electronic services.
“It has been exciting to grow from a one-person department and four branches to five marketing team members and 15 branches,” Cox says. “I’m thrilled to say I have worked alongside inspiring people in a movement that is needed now more than ever.”
Brynn Ammon, associate vice president of product management at $1 billion asset Pen Air Federal Credit Union, Pensacola, Fla., won the Business Development Professional of the Year Award by pursuing an essential rule for business development: “Be everywhere.”
Hired as the credit union’s first business development officer in March 2009, Ammon’s success in attracting new select employee groups (SEGs) and members prompted Pen Air Federal to hire three more business development officers in January 2010.
Ammon continually sought opportunities to interact with SEGs and the community on the credit union’s behalf, from involvement in community organizations to creating opportunities to interact with members.
Credit review sessions introduced at SEG workplaces in 2010 allow members to get a line-by-line credit report review from a business development officer. Branches added the service in 2011.
“It has become incredibly successful for us—a great way to provide education for our members and a great way to bring in loans,” Ammon says.
Seize opportunities quickly
Amy McGraw, marketing director at $131 million asset Public Service Credit Union, Romulus, Mich., focuses on the needs of individual members to spur growth.
McGraw decides whether an event or promotion is likely to prove productive by asking whether it’s based on helping people or pushing products.
Public Service recently completed a two-year rebranding effort that included training front-line employees to ask members what they want out of life—and then link them to the products that help them get there.
“We need to meet members’ needs and be consistent with the credit union’s business objectives in a way that enhances the well-being of the community,” McGraw notes.
She says marketers must seize opportunities quickly to take advantage of the rapid flow of information over smart phones and social marketing. That paid off for Public Service when a local television station’s anchor offered “The Back Channel” for audience feedback via Twitter and asked viewers to submit good news.
The next day, McGraw directed the anchor to a YouTube video of the credit union’s $250 donation to an urban farm project, leading to coverage in the anchor’s blog and later the evening news.
“This is just another form of establishing relationships, but doing it electronically,” McGraw says.
Six award-winning marketing tips
Cox, Ammon, and McGraw offer six tips to marketing success:
- Listen first, talk second. Gather feedback and ideas from members and other departments, especially the front line. Learn what’s behind workplace issues.
- Be authentic. Members who spot a fake will spread the news via social media and word-of-mouth.
- Talk to the front line. If call center or branch staff are uninformed, your credibility will dive.
- Seek exposure. Share stories about credit unions’ good deeds and great services in every venue.
- Network. You’ll gain fresh perspectives and good friends.
- Work hard. Share what you learn by mentoring others.
They also advise colleagues to avoid thise marketing mistakes:
- Ignoring data. Research and analysis are essential tools.
- Allowing analysis paralysis. Pick pertinent data, analyze it, and act on it.
- Accepting negative answers. Remain pleasantly persistent.
- Always demanding immediate returns. Some investments take years to mature.
- Fearing failure. Learn from mistakes without losing your enthusiasm.