Mix it up!

How the Grateful Dead can help your credit union

In 1993, John Fogerty found himself in front of the United State Supreme Court. No doubt, the justices had their favorites—Chief Justice Rehnquist, in his decision, referred to CCR as one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time—but their decision was not based on the best album. It upheld another court’s decision, one which ruled that John Fogerty could not plagiarize himself. Of course, a John Fogerty song sounded like most every other John Fogerty song.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s swamp rock was supposed to be innovative. It was too…for the first 15 songs. Then the music starts running together. It works the same for credit unions. The worst kind of group for an organization is one that wants to break new ground in creativity yet everyone is mostly alike and the team gets along super well. When you assemble a great marketing team, you need various personalities, numerous points of view, and a little tension.

Contrast CCR with the Grateful Dead. The band created a sound that had never been heard before by combining each member’s unique talents and throwing away the accepted rock and roll “box.” Jerry Garcia was not only the lead guitarist; he played the banjo. Phil Lest began his career playing trumpet as a jazz musician. He only mastered the bass after joining the Dead. The band appreciated the newness he brought to the instrument because he didn’t carry any preconceived notions of how the music should sound since he was learning on the job. Instead of searching for a seasoned soundalike to replace the ailing Pigpen McKernan, Garcia auditioned an itinerant lounge piano player, when Keith Godchaux’s wife grabbed him after a solo concert with the introduction, “This is my husband, Keith. He’s the Grateful Dead’s new keyboardist.” At the time, the pianist had only been to one Dead concert.

The unique and inexperienced band members, combined with the unconventional wisdom of the rookies, led the Grateful Dead to have not only a powerful sound but also to a successful run as a band.

Great, but what do this have to do with running a credit union? Much like the Dead, you need a marketing team with diverse, one-of-a-kind talents that don’t necessarily originate in marketing—or even in the credit union space. If your marketing team looks like everyone else’s, chances are so will your marketing. When putting your marketing team together, go outside of the industry but go especially out of your comfort zone. Look at your job descriptions, if you find things like “write and maintain print and online sales materials including website” and “support PR activities,” it’s time for a major overhaul in your approach to putting your team together.

Instead of breaking your marketing folks into specific skill sets, divide them into action teams.

  1. Fill the sales funnel. This team should be responsible for finding people who need your credit union offerings and making sure existing members can easily access your services.
  2. Convert new leads. This group is ultimately responsible for nurturing new leads (especially in digital marketing where you can see who is clicking on your ads) and creating content, which will lead to action.
  3. Analyze the data. These folks take on the task of constantly interpreting the incoming information to make better decisions and ensure goals are met.

Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness, will we discover the infinite power of light. As the Grateful Dead said, “Once in a while, you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” Take action! Look for the members of your marketing team in strange places. You never know where you might find your next awesome rock star team member.

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: yourmarketing.co Details