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When I was a kid we gathered around the TV faithfully to watch the Waltons. That’s where I first learned that before television, kids sat on the floor and stared at the radio. And during that one hour radio show, there were commercials. That’s when John Boy could get up and pee.

I know that many credit unions still create radio ads – especially in smaller markets where it’s super cheap to broadcast. And I know that in some parts of the world – there probably are a lot of radio listeners.

But for the tech savvy Gen Yers in America- it’s Pandora on their iPhone plugged into the auxiliary jack in their car. The greatest invention since the cup holder (and shredded cheese in a bag) is the iPod jack. I can avoid those annoying radio ads and control my music. The irony? I just bought a radio with an iPod jack. What the What?

A dear friend of mine sent me this link last week Traditional Marketing Isn’t Dead Just Yet… the article they try to motivate you to keep on investing in old marketing with this statement:

Traditional (or disruptive) marketing still has tremendous reach. Instead of targeting small communities on the web, traditional marketing reaches a broad audience.

Wow. If that isn’t a glowing endorsement for social media – I don’t know what is.

If your goal is to attract a younger audience, radio is not the way – I don’t care what your media buyer says – it’s their job to spew stats. I guess I’ve always had a problem with the math of a media buy. Sure, the Top-20 station’s typical target is the coveted 16-24 year market – BUT – do they listen? Do they care? Will they buy what you have to sell?

RIP Radio ad. You were fun to write, produce and hear in my car, but it’s time to go.

Which is kind of funny when you think about it – I’m blogging about the death of television advertising and then I interrupt it – like a commercial – get it?……….okay.

The CU Water Cooler goes live this morning. It promises to be the one source for all credit union news that goes beyond who’s suing who. It’s meant to inspire, enlighten, engage and delight.

It is the brainchild of the CU Warrior – aka Matt Davis – who is now a partner with the Filene Research Institute.

There are 12 contributors to the cooler. It means these 12 people hang out all day in the lunch room and talk about cool, funny, edgy, zen-like things. Imagine if you could wander in on a conversation with:

WilliamI’m gonna Change Everything – for the better –  in Canada Azaroff

GeneTinfoiling, CU BuddhaBlishen (another Canadian)

MattBang Bang I am the WarriorDavis

Steve I’ve only met you once but you’re a cool dude from the FoundationDelfin

Brent I designed Denise’s logo and shamed her into getting hip in social mediaDixon

Tim are you kidding me? if you don’t know about Currency Marketing’s impact on CU marketing – he’s a GOD – and a CanadianMcAlpine

Christopherthe coolest person at CUNA and the best dad in the worldMorris

Kelleybrings joy, weirdness, rubber chickens and insight to every blog and bar she steps intoParks

Morrissthe Everything CU – say his name like you’re in the hood Par-TEE Partee

Christopher the MBA toting, vodka drinking, skittles munching cool CUES dudeStevenson

Dougthe True Story, real deal, collaborator extraordinaireTrue

and me! (Wymore – always at the end of the line alphabetically, unless we get a Zimmerman in the group)

I’m honored to be in this group – and in our little way we hope to show credit union people what social media is all about – being social! Talking. Networking. Kibitzing. Debating.

Lots of budgets are tight this year – many conferences were scaled back to webinars or cancelled completely. This site could be the perpetual hospitality suite. Is that water in that cooler?

It’s 1980. Denise Wymore graduates high school, the first Macintosh is released and the question “Who Shot JR?” was finally answered!

That was also the year the first Generation Y baby was born.

Television was their babysitter until they could be in control.

When they turned 3, Super Mario was born to entertain them – pull them away from TV and marketing. That same year Motorola introduced the first cell phone, which will soon become their boob tube.

By the time they entered the 4th grade the world wide web was in their world. An alarming number of adult Gen Yers do not subscribe to cable television OR have a land line. They are “off the grid” so to speak. The internet is their entertainment source and most of it is free.

But the fact is – commercials help pay for our Mad Men fix. So what will happen if we stop advertising?


Simple. We will literally “pay to view” what we want, when we want. It’s already there if you think about it. I can go to iTunes and download most television episodes, commercial free for a couple of bucks.  But I think it’ll get simpler than that.

Social media will wrap itself around fans and involve them in the program. No more archaic Nielsen ratings telling us what we can and can’t watch.

Cult-like devotion will keep a show running.  The more viewers are willing to pay – not advertisers – for a show, will determine its fate.

RIP Television advertising – you will be remembered every time I buy soap.


NOTE: For purposes of this virtual funeral, Marketing will be defined as anything that is one way. Meaning, the member can’t be heard in the process.  It is intended for them to pay attention – or go away and read this. Examples: television ads, radio ads, newspaper ads, direct mail and brochures.

I’ve been speaking a lot lately – about marketing – or the slow death of it – and I get mixed reactions. Some deer-in-the-headlights, some nodding in agreement, some defiant in disagreement. All valid.

If your credit union’s goal is to attract and retain younger members, these traditional marketing efforts will not work.

But let’s celebrate what was a great run. Pay our respects, share our stories and memories and celebrate the life that is ahead. All of these marketing mediums made us better people. We should be thankful for their place in history. They will be missed.

R.I.P. the Television Ad.

Show of hands: how many of you remember when television went off the air? I do.

It’s one of the main reasons I got a real job in high school rather than the not-so-lucrative-baby-sitting-gigs my mom was able to pimp out. We lived in a very Catholic neighborhood. Giant families. She would “offer” me up on a Friday night at like a dollar an hour to watch 6 brats scream their way through my evening. The best part about baby sitting – was when you weren’t. When those rug rats were all safely tucked into bed and you had the television all to yourself. And hopefully some Hostess product.

Then it happened, the clock outran the viewing time. You were left with nothing to watch but this:


And you did.

Counting the minutes until the parents would finally arrive, give you 5 dollars and drunk drive you home. Good times.

Television was captivating in the 70’s. There was no internet. No video games. No Wii. If you weren’t watching television I suppose you could listen to the radio, read a book or go explore nature. But why? When you could plop down in front of the boob tube!

There were only 4 stations back then and you had to get up to change the channel. If the reception was poor, you had aluminum foil and your fist to remedy that. Very high tech. Because there was so little to choose from, you could clip the TV Click out of the Sunday paper and post it on the fridge to see the entire week’s offerings and plan accordingly. If you missed a show, you missed it. No taping. No Your only connection would be to hear, from co-workers, that JR Ewing was shot! Dang!

Commercials were put in place so we could run to the bathroom to pee or grab a soda. Most of your members today probably still watch TV the new-fashioned way. By endlessly clicking through their 180 channels, wading through commercials looking for something interesting to watch. There’s definitely hope that they might see our ad.

And we can tell the board that we are “out there” on television.

NEXT: The wake. What will television look like without ads?

IS098R9AVIt happened again.

I had to be a member yesterday. Not an employee with my account where I work. That was fun.

Being a member – not so much. I think I cracked the code yesterday though.

Check it out.

Marketing’s job – to make things pretty, even when we have to use legal stuff on our pretty (which is why God gave us the 4 pt. font)

Operation’s job – to create forms that are compliant so we know what to put in the computer.

Loan officer’s job – to fill out those forms and put the stuff in the computer.

IT’s job – to make sure the stuff that goes in the computer is safe and secure.

I don’t mean for any of this to sound negative. I think everyone did their job yesterday. My only complaint is – it was so clinical feeling. Kind of like going to the doctor. Thank you for not weighing me, btw.

So whose job is it to be the member? To be the filter for all of these silos and make sure the delivery of your real product – service – is something I want to recommend to my friends and family and co-workers?

According to Alyce Cornyn Selby’s book: I’m Going to Change My Name and Move Away – damned near everything. Your name is the only thing you truly own.

Some of my favorite company names are the unusual ones. Umpqua Bank and IKEA come to mind. Umpqua because it means something – IKEA cuz it means something too – cheap stuff for your home! We hit the local IKEA store hard recently. We moved back to the Northwest from New York and isn’t funny how you always need new stuff when you move? Anyway – as a double bonus this IKEA is in Portland, Oregon the land of no sales tax. We were drunk with purchasing power.

The first thing I had to have were three DIMPAs at $1.50 each. I loved my FRAKTA and these were perfect for groceries. We considered buying the VEJMON and a BESTA but when we got to the warehouse the price was different (more) than the display for the first and parts were missing on the second.

Mark would have none of it. And that’s when he got agitated and started making up meanings.

He’s pretty sure that VEJMON is code for sucker! and BESTA is Swedish slang for crap! But when he called my RATIONELL VARIERA a feces strainer, I about lost it.

Advertising agencies and their clients agonize over naming a product. I’ve been pretty outspoken about some of the name changes in credit union land. Some of them feel – well IKEA-ish – like they were pulled right out of someone’s SKRAPA.

87840912Gnome sayin?

It’s budget time. I know this because I’m married to a credit union CFO. My rallying cry has always been to “question everything.” And in these tough economic times seems everyone is. Especially the budget makers.

That’s why now, more than ever, marketing needs to remain relevant. We need to stop doing what doesn’t work.

y2k.001Y2K preparation was the warning shot across the bow. Remember? We were labeled a “non-essential function” in times of crisis. I tried to argue it, to no avail. I mean, IF the world’s computer systems went kapooey – as predicted – would my membership drive still go on? Not likely. Would I get to begin production on that snappy radio ad? Hell no.

We’re in a crisis. One we could’ve been prepared for – like Y2K – but was largely ignored. So now people are panicking. Marketing is getting cut. I know of three marketing professionals who have been laid off. CFOs are seeing our budgets as black holes.

Now more than ever marketing needs to prove to world that they are the custodian of the credit union brand. Not a schlepper of products, or creator of promotions. Marketing’s sole job is to protect and preserve the credit union’s reputation.

The best way to do that is to show management the power of the Net Promoter Score. Ask a random sample of your membership a few simple questions:

1. On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend the credit union to a friend, family member of colleague?

2. What is the primary reason for the score you gave?

3. Have you recommended the credit union in the last 12 months?

4. If yes, how many members have you recommended in the last 12 months? 0-1- 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 or more?

5. What can we do to improve your experience with the credit union.

We measure and lament over ROA, delinquencies, net worth, loan-to-share ratios, asset and membership growth – what about our reputation? Our service levels? Our member’s perceptions?

This is the new normal for marketing.

It’s official. I’m back in the Northwest. It’s my home. It’s familiar. There are good memories and bad memories for me here. But I’ve learned as time goes on, you take the good with the bad and receive them both as gifts.

IMG_1906Our new home has a view of Mt. Hood. I’ve stood on the top of that mountain. I grew up looking at that mountain. The rumors are true – it does rain a lot in the Pacific Northwest – so the mountain isn’t always “out.” That’s what makes it special. Like today. An early morning hot pink sunrise welcomed me. I am home.

Mt. Hood is the logo for Portland, Oregon and Southwest Washington. It’s a reminder of our common bond. People have died on the mountain. Races are run on the mountain. Movies have been filmed on the mountain. It’s our hood. (Hehehehehe….get it?)

Like a mountain, your logo is a powerful thing. It can stand the test of time because it’s the symbol of your brand – which is your reputation. When I hear of a credit union going through a “re-branding” experience it makes the hair on my neck stand up. Kind of like launching a social media campaign, or when someone starts a sentence with irregardless.

You can’t pay someone to re-brand you. Kanye West, AIG and B of A would be throwing millions at these agencies if it were that simple.

The art of branding is your logo. The science of branding is practicing active restraint. Being consistent with your message, your look, tone, feel and your logo. Times change, economies rise and fall, weather threatens to rain on our parade. Stuff happens. But there’s something reassuring about seeing the familiar. Like your credit union.

IMG_1910Marketing’s job today is to protect the brand. People are nervous. They crave something routine, customary, solid, trustworthy. Credit unions are known for that. Some marketers might think that boring – but today – it’s like looking out your window and seeing the sunrise on a mountain.

Whew! It’s still there. Now I can relax and be about my day.

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November 2009