‘Stay Curious’ and Other Keys to Marketing Success

Marketing and business development success starts with the CU’s leadership, three award-winning marketers say.

June 15, 2012
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Not every marketing idea is a home run. But having permission to fail every so often creates a sense of innovation and motivation among credit union marketers and business developers, say three Diamond Award winners:

  • Anne 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).

Legg, Godwin, and Wall outline the keys to marketing and business development success and their best marketing/business development advice.

CU Mag: What are some of the keys to marketing and business development success?

Godwin: It really starts with the leadership. I'm very fortunate that our leadership at the credit union fully supports business development.

They trust what we do. They allow us to take chances, and they don't always work out. But then when they don't work out, the hammer doesn't come down on me too hard. We still consider ourselves a laboratory for the credit union.

We will try new things, and they won’t all be home runs. But we’re given the luxury of being able to fail to some extent. That creates a real sense of innovation and motivation in the department. That’s critical.

Diamond Award winners
Marketing success starts with support from CU leadership, say Diamond Award winners Anne Legg (left), John Godwin, and Kim Wall.

The other thing is we need to have the right people in the right position. As someone who has worked in both marketing and business development, I know the marketing personality is a little different than the business development personality.

I think we'd all agree that having a business development personality in a business development position is critical, just as it is to have a marketing personality in a marketing position.

Wall: I do have to give kudos to executive management because change is the only constant here, as I’m sure it is with your credit unions. We have to constantly adapt to the marketplace. But when you have great people in the right position, it makes all the difference in the world.

And when you couple that with executive management support, it’s win-win for everybody.

We all love our jobs and the credit union. But not everybody has that passion. We need to find people who fit and who have the heart and the passion.

Legg: Part of my mantra when I was chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council was making sure leadership recognized the contributions of marketing and business development.

What’s really helping take our industry to the next level is having marketers in key executive roles.

NEXT: What's the best marketing advice you'd offer colleagues?

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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 ( 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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