Posts Tagged Marketing

RUAGG? Txt in the ’40s, and “For bologna see your butcher”

Posted by on Thursday, 30 September, 2010

Learning how credit unions marketed themselves and sought new members are benefits to working with archival material at CUNA.  Once in a while, I come across a campaign that serves as a reminder that  abbreviations and pithy slogans have been around for a long time.

RUAGG?  Was used in a membership drive by the Line Materials Company Credit Union of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1945 [Bridge, September 1945, p. 196-199].   I’m sure most of us can recognize the R-U as a texting abbreviation for ”are you.”  That leaves us with the need to decifier ”AGG?” For the Line Materials Credit Union, “AGG?” stood for “A Go-Getter?”

Placed together we have the question, “Are You A Go-Getter?”  While this question was asked in 1945, we can still ask it today.  In 1945, twelve questions were asked to determine if you qualified as a “Go-Getter.”  Today, we offer six questions based on those issued in 1945.

ARE YOU…talking to your co-workers about joining the credit union?

ARE YOU…promoting the services of credit unions?

ARE YOU…becoming educated in credit union activities?

ARE YOU…acquainted with the business affairs of your credit union?

ARE YOU…giving thought to ideas which will help your credit union grow and give better service?

ARE YOU…reading Credit Union Magazine?

IF YOU are doing all of the above you are on the road to being “A Go-Getter”; and a “GO-GETTER” can do more good for the credit union than anything else.

Now that we’ve determined that you are a “Go-Getter” we can discuss some other recommendations and slogans placed in newsletters and newspapers during the Line Materials Credit Union membership drive.

1.  Do you need a loan for income or property tax?  Secure it from your credit union.

2.  For bologna see your butcher; for facts on loans see your credit union.

3.  Our government requests us to ‘fill our coal bins early.’  If you need a loan consult your credit union first.  Save your war bonds.

4.  For a lawsuit see your lawyer; for an easter suit see your credit union.

5. Clean up! Paint up! Repair! If you are in need of a loan consult your credit union first.

6. Don’t cash in your war bonds if you need cash; consult your credit union first.

The Line Materials Credit Union also used letters, film strip  presentations and a 10,000 sticker campaign.  Today we understand a sticker campaigns as part of guerrilla marketing.  In 1945 it was suggested that members “use these stickers promiscuously and conspicuously,” by always carrying some and place them on menus, on soap, canned goods, packaged goods, periodicals, cigarettes, candy bars, and personal correspondence.  The message was the same then as it is now, “show your brand.”  Make your brand stand-out and be seen where possible.

The campaign was a success as 86 new members were added during the drive.  This increase was the highest in Wisconsin for 1945.

The photograph below shows Directors meeting to discuss the membership drive.  Shown are L-R: Walter Akre, Vice President; Donald Harling, Treasurer; Lawrence Giese, President; Harold Schroeder, Secretary; Ed Loewe; Herbert Bell; and Edith Worm.

These credit unionists were true “Go-Getters!”  They succeed in creating a successful membership campaign.  More importantly, they provided direction that we can still use today and provided even better lines for the next time you need a pithy saying with a credit union slant.

Lawrence Giese outlining preliminary membership drive plans for consideration of directors, around table (left to right): Walter Akre, vice president; Donald Harling, treasurer; Lawrence Giese; Harold Schroeder, secretary; Ed Loewe; Herbert Bell; and Edith Worm.

Strategic Marketing Tips from the CDCU Institute

Posted by on Friday, 20 August, 2010

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak about strategic marketing with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Union’s third year group at the Community Development Credit Union Institute (CDCU Institute).   I had the unique experience of chatting with some community development credit union stars about how they can reach more members and prosper.  I was so impressed with this group as they were already beyond just talking marketing tactics and promo campaigns, and really wanted to talk marketing strategy.

Now, I’m not a history buff, but recently I heard a presentation where marketing consultant, Steve Olson, gave a great analogy of the difference between marketing strategy and tactics.  As Steve put it, when entering World War II, the United States was facing two battle fronts, one in Europe and one in the Pacific.  The strategy for World War II was Europe first, the Pacific second.  That really got me thinking as I prepared for my talk at CDCU Institute about what battle fronts are priority for credit unions?

As our morning conversation went on at the CDCU Institute, everyone took notice of how many fronts we are trying to fight with existing marketing efforts.  Now, if your credit union has any sort of limited resources (time, money, etc.), you realize what we did … that fighting all fronts at once is not an effective battle/marketing strategy.  So what did our group come up with?  Here are some of the session highlights:

  • Service is credit union marketing- be sure to know what you’re up against.  When each person told the group what sets their credit union apart from their competition, the immediate response was service.  Yet, very few people could recall a secret shopping or similar program to factually know what service their members receive elsewhere.  A strategy is no good if what you stand for isn’t your competitive advantage.  So, if your credit union stands for better member service than your competitors, do your undercover work.
  • Identify the front you’ll battle first.  We talked at length about the benefits of focusing on a core target.  This target should represent your most loyal members, and members that use your credit union for what it should be used for. Having a stable membership base representing your target will ensure your credit union is in existence to serve all your members far into the future.
  • Have fun!  Throughout this entire session, we pushed our comfort levels of what marketing meant to us and our credit unions.  When we did get to the conversation about tactics, it was fun because we had our goals and strategies mapped out.  While I didn’t come across the tactic of the Flash Mob of Innovations FCU until yesterday, it certainly would represent the fun ideas that came from this group.  Different now is that all our ideas are grounded in the marketing strategy we know will sustain our organizations.

So, let’s extend the discussion.  What strategies are you using to fight your marketing battles?

Live From The 1: Using the Power of Social Networking to Build Your Credit Union

Posted by on Tuesday, 13 July, 2010

Everyone knows about social media, and talks about being hands-on and interactive. But what does this mean and how do you do it? Some people (& credit unions…) sensing a huge business potential throw money at new online opportunities. But speaker Tara Hunt says, “Money isn’t the capital of choice in online communities, it’s social capital, known as ‘whuffie,’ that drives these new engines.”

Tara, the author of The Whuffie Factor: Using the Power of Social Networks to Build Your Business, says that in the social media space, market capital flows from having high social capital. Without high levels of “whuffie” (I can say that word all day BTW), you lose your connections to online communities, and any recommendations you make will be seen as spam.

The first part of her presentation echoed Brent Dixon’s yesterday. Viral social media content is mostly emotional, positive…awe-inspiring. People are sharing personal information and feelings like never before via social media (even their location – gasp!). The social web is growing and changing the way we interact with each other.

One particularly interesting finding she mentioned is that social networking affects the brain like falling in love – if a company or brand raises our oxytocin levels, we are more likely to connect with them.

Some great examples and videos Tara showed the group:

Tara’s final words – “This stuff is important. All you need is love. May the force be with you.”

What I Learned About Social Media at Marketing Management School

Posted by on Wednesday, 7 July, 2010

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending CUNA’s Marketing Management School in Orlando, Florida. Although my tenure (ten years!) at CUNA has provided me with opportunities to travel and work at various onsite events this was my first experience working with credit union marketers. It was an absolute delight!

Meghann Dawson, my colleague and fellow CUNAverse blogger, spent the last year working with Anne Legg (CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council Chair), and Randy Schultz (of Weber Marketing) to revamp the existing school.

The result was a stellar 3D program, with “dimensions” for marketers of every level.  Dimension 1 was led by Randy Schultz; Dimension 2 was led by Mark Arnold, CCUE (of Neighborhood Credit Union) and Dimension 3 was led by Jeff Rendel (of Rising Above Enterprises). This trio was responsible for leading and facilitating the educational offerings. Throughout the week Meghann and I heard from students in each dimension that their facilitator was “the best of the three.” Clearly, Randy, Mark and Jeff brought their “A game” to Orlando, as did all of the other speakers.

I personally learned A LOT at Marketing Management School… I could write several posts on the experience…but, I’ve boiled it down to this:

If you want to be a strong leader, you need to embrace Web 2.0/Social Media. What do I mean by this? You need to start educating yourself on Web 2.0. This means reading blogs (this one is a great start!), subscribing to RSS feeds, investigating wikis, and watching videos on sharing sites like YouTube, to name a few.  Social Media  is not a passing fad. Strong leaders recognize the true power of the Internet and the importance of being technologically savvy.  Embracing Web 2.0 might mean asking for help. Enlist the help of your part-time student teller. Hire a marketing intern from your local high school or college.  If nothing else, check out other credit unions who are embracing Web 2.0 well. Do whatever it takes to get educated because education truly IS power.

Last week my 11 year old niece taught my mom more about her iPhone in 3 days, than my mom had learned in 3 months. Why? Because kids play! They aren’t afraid to push buttons until they figure things out.  Become a kid again. Play! Have fun! Open yourself up to learning. It’s the only way to survive in today’s fast-paced, ever-connected world.

If your credit union is not involved in social media efforts, it’s time to get on board. In each classroom, this message was resounding. Web 1.0 was about obtaining information, Web 2.0 is about people. More importantly, people connecting with other people. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

43% of the online community is now using social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. (If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, this piece is a good starting point). If you want your credit union to thrive, you must have an online presence.

As Senior Vice President of Marketing for Neighborhood Credit Union, Mark Arnold shared his top  Five Reasons for Using Social Media to Reach Members:

  1. To drive sales.
  2. To improve member service.
  3. To build your credit union’s brand.
  4. To create name awareness.
  5. To potentially save money.

As Mark pointed out so succinctly, social networking is about collaborating, interacting and transparency. Social networking is about honesty, authenticity, conversations and dialogue. Isn’t that what credit unions are all about too?

I returned from Marketing Management School refreshed, rejuvenated and reinspired by all of the wonderful things that are going on in Credit Union Land. I thank all of you who joined us on the journey!

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” —B. B. King

Why it’s Our Duty to Mention Credit Unions on a First Date

Posted by on Thursday, 1 July, 2010

Rachel Best

From Rachel Best:

I think we all love credit unions. Or we wouldn’t be reading this totally splendid blog, right?

In fact, I would go so far as to say that “credit union people” are more vocal about their love of their credit union than bank people.  We tell the grocery clerk about the differences between a credit union and a bank.  We say, “Hey, I get my ATM transactions surcharge-free, how about you?”  We argue tax-exempt status with our friend who works for a community bank and then make a pact to stop discussing it so we can stay friends.

I think I talk more about credit unions than astronauts talk about the moon.  When people ask me where I work, my friends all go, “Is this where you start talking about credit unions?” No joke…they actually do this.  YES, this is when I start talking about credit unions and their awesomeness.  And most of them love it (or in the case of the above community banker friend – tolerate it) because they are credit union members themselves.   For those that aren’t, I try to show them the light.  I’ve had new acquaintances and professional friends comment at the end of my credit union diatribe, “Why isn’t everyone in a credit union then?”  I tell them that they qualify and visit, etc, etc. I forgo mentioning that it’s because big banks are bad. Got to keep it friendly, you know?

I lecture young cousins about where to get their first loans.  And while I wouldn’t know from personal experience, I’ve heard that bars are a great place to discuss credit unions.  Mention it on first dates – you’ll know right away if your compatible!  Who cares if it’s awkward, embrace it, it’s our duty!  Ask, “Do I look like the Little Guy when I carry this umbrella?”

If you haven’t gotten someone to say “Why isn’t everyone in a credit union then?” this month, then we’ve failed.  I don’t think we are doing our job nor our service to fellow citizens if we don’t get them to realize what they are missing.

So go out and get them champs!  If you can’t bring people to the mountain, bring the mountain to the people.

Rachel Best is the Meetings and Exhibits Manager for the Credit Union National Association. Read her last CUNAverse blog post here.

Reflections of a CUNA Management School Graduate

Posted by on Friday, 25 June, 2010

CUNA Management School Class of 2008

After spending almost three years working at CUNA and marketing CUNA Management School, I was asked to go through the program as an attendee in 2006.  I remember arriving on a hot, steamy July Sunday to gather my materials and check in to my dorm room.  That wasn’t a typo, I stayed in a dorm room for two weeks, and actually enjoyed it.  Unlike my college days at the same UW-Madison, this school offered a completely different experience.

After attending the evening mixer, I began to notice quickly the diversity amongst the group.  Though we were all from the credit union movement, there were CEOs, marketers, branch managers, lending officers, business development managers, compliance officers and many others.  Plus, there were veterans of the movement, new hires, young parents, grandparents, and even one woman who was pregnant.  All in different stages of our careers and lives, we embarked on this experience to…? That was the question I wanted to answer.  After all, I promote this program to credit union professionals each year.  What were they hoping to gain or learn during these two weeks, and what would bring them back for the following two summers?

Needless to say, I certainly got an education at CUNA Management School.  Not only was I educated about what people gained and learned at the program, I experienced it.

I learned about and experienced idea sharing.  Unbeknownst to me at the time, I sat next to 3 other marketers during my first day of class, and sat next to the same 3 my last day.  We loved learning from each other, and discussing the concepts presented in class as they related to marketing.

I learned about and experienced leadership and teamwork.  Sure, at first I thought it was hokey to have a class motto and chant.  But sure enough, after serving as our class treasurer, fundraising for the scholarship fund, assisting with the welcome committee and planning our class celebration, I felt the credit union philosophy come alive along with a camaraderie that continued long after the day we headed home.

I learned about and experienced credit unions.  I knew business concepts before I attended CUNA Management School.  In fact, many of my class members already had masters in business.  However, we learned about the credit union way of doing business as we sifted through ALM, ratios, human resources, marketing, innovation and crisis management.  Not just how to do it, but how a credit union should do it.

As the day approaches that a whole new CUNA Management School class begins, I remember my last day of the program.  I was the pregnant woman (with only two weeks until my due date, now that’s dedication) and others were now CEOs and COOs. We all took something a little different away from the program, yet we were all taking away something just the same: We learned about and experienced people helping people.

The Golden Circle Concept for Credit Unions – Start with Purpose

Posted by on Thursday, 17 June, 2010

I love convergences. About a month ago I found myself at the Wisconsin Credit Union League Annual Meeting where some friends at Filene were giving a general session on opportunities for credit unions. In Young Adult Adviser Brent Dixon’s section, he talked about the Golden Circle concept and its relevance for credit unions. It was a simple yet profound idea.


Driving back to Madison from the League meeting, I was listening to random TED talks and one of them happened to be on – you guessed it – the Golden Circle concept. The talk is from Simon Sinek and titled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” I recommend checking it out sometime and sharing with your co-workers.

> Click Here to Watch/Hear the Full TED Talk

The gist is this: people connect with leaders and brands who they think share their beliefs – the cause (or the “why?”) in the center of the circle above. Too often, credit unions and organizations in general start with the outside of the circle in their messaging.

“We provide financial products & services (what?) via branches in the Madison area or online (how?) because we are a non-profit cooperative financial institution (why?)”

Sound familiar? Now turn it around:

“We believe that you should own your money and your financial institution, not shareholders. We believe in people helping people and our financial products/services reflect that. We do this because we are a non-profit cooperative financial institution.”

When I talked with Brent about this recently, he had this to add:

If you market based on the “what” you are a commodity. As soon as the terms of that commodity changes  (and we know they will change) – lower deposit rates, dropping free services to stay afloat, cutting back on branch hours – the market will leave too.

But if you market based on “why” – they will stay, because they believe in your purpose, and, because this goes beyond altruism, they will stay because they know that no matter what, you will fight to keep their best interest at the heart of your decisions.

Communicating and acting on purpose drives gut decisions that change behaviors.

Powerful stuff, yet we start the “what” all too often – professionally and personally.

Ode to My Credit Union: Becoming Your Members’ Go-To Resource

Posted by on Friday, 11 June, 2010

Tracy Anderson

From Tracy Anderson:

I have to admit that my personal finance skills have never been great.  Sure, my parents encouraged me to budget and tried to reinforce the importance of saving for a rainy day.   It wasn’t until I found myself buried with student loans and other “adult” expenses just like many other college grads that I finally cracked down on my spending, and created a personal budget.

I received plenty of help from my credit union to get my budget on track through categorized expense tracking, calculators, personal meetings and and tips on their Web site.  The small amount of personal attention made them my go-to resource for any questions or future financial assistance.

While it is great to have these resources now, I often wish I had been fully engaged with my finances from an earlier age.  I didn’t truly grasp the concept of how much life could cost until I was out on my own – thrown into the real world!

Younger generations are really struggling with money management skills much like older members, and the economy hasn’t made life easier for anyone.  This is evident by a recent article in Credit Union Magazine stating that bankruptcy filings in March of 2010 represented the highest monthly consumer filing, reaching 149,268!  American Bankruptcy Institute(ABI) Executive Director Samuel J. Gerdano states, “The sustained economic pressures of unemployment coupled with high pre-existing debt burdens are a formula for consumer filings to surpass 1.5 million filings.”

Many members are feeling lost and unsure of what their next step should be, so now is the time for credit unions to sweep in and help.  While you can help your current members get back on their feet, you also have the ability to be known as the source of good personal finance habits for potential members and prevent the financial issues many people currently face.

What kinds of things are you doing to be the trusted, go-to resource for your current and future members?

Tracy Anderson is Marketing Communications Specialist for the Credit Union National Association.

Is Your Credit Union Leveraging Yelp & Google? Start Now.

Posted by on Wednesday, 26 May, 2010

About a year ago now, I did a post at on some free online tools every credit union marketer should be using – Google Alerts, Twitter search, etc. The tools are still relevant because even if you aren’t embarking on a full-scale social media campaign, your membership and potential members might be talking about you. And you need to listen and respond if necessary. Ten or fifteen years ago, if a member had a good or bad experience with your credit union, they simply called or wrote the branch to complain.

Not anymore.

Now they can blog about it, tweet about it, update their Facebook status about it, and so on. And that information is public and most likely could live on forever. And Google loves blogs – for a personal example, about two years ago I got my auto loan through Great Wisconsin Credit Union here in Madison (now Summit CU) and did a blog post about my experience – Google “auto loan great Wisconsin credit union” and my blog post is (sometimes) towards the top of the search results. Do you think a potential auto loan seeker will read that blog post? Heck yes. So be prepared.

Aside from assembling your rapid response social media team, one thing you can do is to invest some time into Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – getting your web pages higher in search results. For a primer, I recommend checking out a blog post I did for CU Communicator a while back and more importantly, Google’s free SEO starter guide (who knows search better than Google?). Once you dig a little deeper into SEO, you’ll find yourself forever changed on how you write copy for your web pages (example – stop using “CU” and write out “credit union”…are members searching “CU” or “credit union?”)


Another overlooked outlet for disgruntled or happy members is Yelp. Yelp is a website where “real people write real reviews” of area businesses. Most likely your credit union is listed and has been reviewed. You might have only one review which might not mean that much to you. But remember two things:

  1. 78% of People Trust Recommendations of Other Consumers (source)
  2. Google likes Yelp – for example, Heartland Credit Union here in Madison has only one review (4-stars out of 5)). When you Google “Heartland Credit Union Madison,” their Yelp page is on the first page of the search results. Will curious parties read that review? Again, heck yes.

So what can you do? First, visit Yelp’s business owner section and edit/update your business information (remember – if it shows up on the first page of Google results, it’s about as important as your credit union’s website in terms of visibility…think of it as an “online branch” so to speak). Then read this great blog post by Samuel Axon – “Yelp for Businesses: 4 Steps for Success” and follow his tips. I like the idea of displaying a Yelp badge on your site for example or re-posting some actual reviews. You can also display reviews or stickers in your branches too (see image for an easy example).

I’d also recommending making the rest of your staff aware of both of these resources/strategies – Yelp and SEO. For example, you might find yourself editing content less and you don’t want frontline staff caught off guard by a member who mention’s your credit union’s Yelp review.

“Yelp? Do you mean you need help? I’m sorry, let me get a manager…”

This post originally appeared at in a slightly different form.

Starbucks: You’ve Done It Again

Posted by on Tuesday, 18 May, 2010

Tuesday, 8:03 a.m., CUNA Marketing Department

Marketer #1:  “Danielle, you’ve made my day!  Thank you so much!  How much do I owe you?”

Marketer #2:  “No way, I’ve been wanting one of those.  Dang, I’m going to go out at lunch to get one.”

Marketer #3:  “Get me one too.  Those are cool!”

"The Cup"

"The Cup"

So, what were we discussing? A cup. That’s right, a cup. But, not just any cup.  A clear plastic, insulated cup with twist on top and plastic straw equipped with a “bump” on one end so it won’t fall out.  And, it has the Starbucks logo on it.

Now, I’m not a coffee drinker, but I am Marketer #2 above.  I went to Starbucks to purchase “the cup,” but they were out.  “Only had them around Christmas for a day,” the barista told me.  I walked out without coffee thinking “Dang, I really wanted that cup.”

Fast forward to the day that Danielle, our Starbucks resident on staff, arrived to work with multiple cups.  Apparently, Danielle was requested that if she ever went to Starbucks and saw “the cup,” she had to pick up more for our other marketing staff.  That’s the day that the conversation above took place, and I realized I was not just a lone non-coffee drinker in search of “the cup,” but one of many.

Throughout the day, I found out that these cups are quite a big deal.  Starbucks staff indicated they only get these cups in sparse shipments, and people flock in to get them. While the cup retails for ~$13 in Madison, it can be found on eBay $20+. Later, I found out from Lisa (Marketer #1) you can buy a three-pack of similar cups at Costco for ~$19 (no Starbucks logo though).  That Tuesday, I called ahead to make sure Starbucks still had the cups, drove over and bought four.

Members of CUNA's Marketing Department with "The Cup"

After spending more than $50 on these infamous cups (and filling mine with Mountain Dew), I began to think about what a marketing/branding wonder these cups are.

  • Does Starbucks purposely limit the distribution so a whole word-of-mouth market will start when “the cup” shipment arrives?
  • Where did I see the cup first?
  • What made me recall it, and desire it?
  • How many other businesses have non-core products that non-customers clammer to get?

Then, I began to wonder about this branding success, and if credit unions were trying anything similar?  So, how about it?  Does your credit union have any items, service, or “cups” that you’ve found your members (and hopefully non-members) desire?  What’s “the cup” for your credit union that’s got people talking?  Cool credit cards?  Your service?  Chime in with some of your examples.  The first comment will receive “the cup.”

GET “THE CUP” CONTEST DETAILS: Contest begins today and ends when the first comment appears.  No purchase necessary to win.  Make sure you leave an e-mail address where you can be contacted.  The winner will be notified via e-mail (in case you don’t see that your comment is first) and will also be announced on the blog (just to be sure there’s no confusion on what first means).  Multiple comments are allowed but there will only be one winner. I could only get one cup!  The odds of winning depend on how fast you can comment.  Void where prohibited.