Marketing

Marketing: The Blessing and the Curse

Marketing is constantly changing, requiring marketers to change with it.

May 29, 2012
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New products and cutting-edge technologies are fueling great changes in credit union marketing, requiring marketers to constantly come up with new ideas, says Anne Legg, vice president of marketing for $740 million asset Financial Partners Credit Union, Downey, Calif.

This constant change, she says, is both a “blessing and a curse.”

In the second of a five-part series, three Diamond Award-winning marketers discuss how they come up with fresh ideas and new approaches to their craft:

• Legg, vice president of marketing for $740 million asset Financial Partners Credit Union, Downey, Calif. (Marketing Professional of the Year);
• John Godwin, vice president of business development/strategic alliances for $1.1 billion asset MECU of Baltimore (Business Development Professional of the Year Award); and
Kim Wall, community development director for $900 million asset Georgia United Credit Union in Duluth (Hall of Fame inductee).

CU Mag: How do you come up with fresh ideas and new approaches to your job?

Legg: One of the things that’s exciting about the marketing world—sort of a blessing and a curse—is that it’s constantly changing and you have to change with it. Technology has been driving that, not to mention product.

I'm constantly looking outside of our industry for ideas because we are, at the end of the day, a retailer. So I love looking at what Apple is doing and just about anything in that environment.

We created a virtual dealership basically by looking at what eBay does. I was curious about what eBay was doing; what it was selling and how it was selling. And they actually do sell cars. People actually buy cars, without driving them, online.

Kim Wall
Kim Wall
Kim Wall
John Godwin
Anne Legg
Anne Legg

We also did an online auto sale, taking a page straight from the online retailers who’ll say, “Take advantage of this offer for the next 48 hours.” And that’s what we did.

Aside from looking to other industries, don’t take no for an answer. Many times I’ll walk into a meeting and say something like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we do everything on a tablet?” And then you watch the rest of your management team cringe.

But you have to keep pushing; don’t give up. When I first told everyone I wanted to create a virtual dealership the response was, “Oh my gosh.” But it turned out to be so much fun and so cool that we could create something that would allow members to both shop [for vehicles] and get their loan online.

So it’s about being comfortable with being uncomfortable. There are many different ways to get creative ideas.

Wall: I feel like I’m reading, reading, reading all the time, and not just the industry materials but anything to glean an idea or concept.

I also like to brainstorm with others. Most folks are “closet marketers,” so brainstorming with others can be very beneficial. One of my favorite things is talking to our younger colleagues, especially those in their '20s, because they look at things in a different way.

And like Anne, they don't take no for an answer. They say, “What if?”

Legg: That’s exactly it, Kim. It’s about looking at what can we do better? What’s the member’s point of pain, and how can we make it better?

Godwin: I’m going to steal “feeling comfortable being uncomfortable” by the way.

We force ourselves to be creative in our department—each one of us is tasked with developing one new idea each week, which is tough.

To be honest with you, we’re not always feeling creative. So some of the ideas are like, “We need to repaint the wall.”

But some gems do come out of this. And we encourage each other to think of crazy ideas. Even if an idea sounds crazy, we put it out there because there might be an offshoot from that idea.

These ideas form a list of potential initiatives for this year and the next year. We do an off-site retreat for the department in the summer to develop the plan for next year, and these ideas really fuel the following year’s plan. This has been a huge part of the progress we’ve made in our department, and it’s fun.

I get a real kick out of seeing an idea come up in a meeting, seemingly out of the blue from somebody’s head, and come to fruition.

NEXT: What’s one gem that has turned out well?

More of this!

Josh McAfee
May 29, 2012 9:33 am
As a CU marketer in their mid-20's, I need articles like this to get me out of my own head. So many times the ideas are so localized and inside of a box of my own CU that they don't even work well for our purposes. I think we all have to start thinking bigger about ways to enrich members' lives. If the implementation seems impossible, we're on the right track. Scaling down a huge idea is always a possibility. Making a tiny idea bigger is the tough part. Great job guys. I've used innovations from Anne and John from day one, so I can attest that theyre not just doing special things for their own CUs but also for the industry as a whole. From a newbie in the CU marketing game, you're our heroes.


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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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