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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.

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November 2009