by: Bo McDonald, President, Your Marketing Co
I had the opportunity to spend a good part of last week with my friends and peers from credit unions throughout South Carolina, and one thing was clear: Change is coming. The theme of the conference was “power on”, and the message couldn’t have been clearer from the line-up of speakers. Change is necessary if your credit union plans to survive.
Mark Meyer, CEO of the credit union think-tank Filene opened the session on Friday morning comparing credit unions to a cul-de-sac. Meyer pointed out that credit union professionals tend to stick around their own cul-de-sac when comparing notes and identified the need to get out on the “autobahn” and look at how successful organizations are growing by looking towards the future. “Less cul de sac, more autobahn” Meyer said. Meyer also pointed out that while 70% of Americans have vocalized their frustration with for-profit banks, only 8% said they would move to a credit union.
John Lass followed Meyer and made a great segue from the need to be looking around the corner. Lass provided several examples of trends that credit unions should be focusing on if they intend on not only growing but surviving. After highlighting the demise of several companies and industries that have withered away or are in the process of it, Lass identified “mobile banking” as an area that credit unions could focus on for survival. “Faster than just about anybody saw it coming, mobile banking has transformed from nice to have in a few years to a must have this year technology,” said Lass.
Taking Meyers’ advice and looking around the corner the South Carolina Credit union League debuted a new program this year they dubbed “Palmetto Protégé.” The League brought in one young professional finalist from each chapter to present at the Annual Meeting. Each Protégé had five minutes to present in front of attendees, and each was graded by a panel of celebrity judges including Randall Smith from CUsinsight.com. The winner: Dizzy Felkel, a fairly new-comer to the industry who joined the team at SPC Credit Union in July of 2011.
Troy Hall and Beth Jaskiewicz held a pep rally right before lunch in support of “Every Day is Bank Transfer Day.” Hall and Jaskiewicz, both from SC Federal Credit Union worked to trademark the phrase “Every Day is Bank Transfer Day” and announced that the trademark has officially been transferred to CUNA and is available for all credit unions to use as part of their marketing. “For years, credit unions have been looking for the perfect opportunity to leverage their cooperative and collaborative marketing strengths. Now is the time to put the power of a grassroots movement into action” Hall said. The usage of this is open to credit unions throughout the United States, not just South Carolina. Hall encouraged credit unions to visit www.btdnow.org for more information on this national branding campaign.
After several breakout sessions, Patrick Adams hosted the closing session and provided an energetic and comical look at the industry today. While questioning “the way we’ve always done it” mentality, Adams pointed out the need for credit unions to return to their roots, putting a focus back onto what members need. One question that Adams asked summed up in just a few words what credit unions should be asking with every decision made: “Are you working for NCUA or for your members?”
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, product launch, printing and more. Think of YMC as a marketing department for your credit union without the overhead. Our focus is on one industry: credit unions. But that doesn’t mean our Credit Unions are all the same. We’ll highlight your credit union’s unique personality and position in the community in a custom way. Let us help you shake up the status quo with a modern marketing message planted on the foundation of personal service you’ve worked hard to establish. www.yourmarketingco.com