Selling the CU Experience

Award-winning marketers share their secrets to success.

October 29, 2013
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CU Mag: What are some keys to marketing/business development success?

Carrell: It’s important to think strategically and understand that great marketing is an incredible investment. But you must be able to prove that.

You must be able to lead and live the credit union’s brand. And you’ve got to be willing to institute and campaign for needed changes--whether it’s with the budget, the culture, or the product. Marketers need to take the lead on this.

Nicholas: The key to success, at least in my organization, is that I don't work in a vacuum. My team works with every department on promotions.

We need things from different areas, so working with everyone is critical to our success and to the organization's success. And, again, it’s important to analyze everything so we can prove what we do is successful and that it’s worth the money we spend.

Reed: It starts with the organization’s leadership realizing the value marketing and business development bring to the table and investing in both. Many leaders undervalue our professions because they don’t understand them. We have to become adept at using metrics, which is their language to prove our value.

Other keys to success include being a change agent, thinking strategically, being a visionary, having endless amounts of energy, being a great networker, and being able to build relationships quickly.

You also have to be good at motivating yourself and celebrating your own successes.

CU Mag: What’s one thing your colleagues might not know about you?

Nicholas: I was a professional sled dog driver.

Reed: That sounds made up, Lisa.

Nicholas: I know. But growing up, I had 40 to 80 dogs at any given time. People know the Iditarod, which is a distance race, but we were sprint racers, going for speed. We had teams of three, four, six, and eight dogs.

Reed: I’m kind of a cruise-aholic. I love to travel, and I’ve been to many incredible places. Cruises give me the chance to get off the grid, disconnect, be with my family, and recharge. Travel is relaxing, but it also fulfills my need for adventure.

Carrell: I’ve always wanted to write a book, and I’m retiring soon so I'm going to finally get the chance. It could be fiction or nonfiction; maybe both.

I’ve got a lot of ideas germinating, but I haven’t mapped anything out yet.

CU Mag: If you could be any rock star, who would it be?

Nicholas: Pink. I just love that she’s a rebel.

Reed: Elton John. Who doesn’t love Elton John, or at least his music? He also has a great way of promoting himself—he’s a marketing and business development genius if you think about it. So isn’t he a lot like our credit unions?

If Elton just had a great product but not the marketing and business development genius that goes with it—the outrageous clothes, crazy shoes, big glasses, goodwill toward charity, close bonds with people of influence—he’d just be another “American Idol” contestant. Anyone with a certain amount of talent can get on “Idol,” but the winners are great marketers and business developers, too.

Carrell: I’d be Bono from U2. He’s an amazingly creative guy—a great lyricist and singer. Plus, I really admire his activism concerning Africa. I like his philanthropy and his business acumen. I just think he totally rocks.

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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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