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In just a couple of days it will be two thousand ten. 2010. Ten years since Y2K – 10 years to – wait for it — 2020…..

And so I’ve decided to rename my blog and the book I’ve been writing to:

The 2020 Vision of Marketing.

I’ve been eulogizing the death of traditional marketing for most of 2009 – and now it’s time to look forward. What will marketing look like in the year two thousand twenty – 2020?  I’ve asked three marketing experts what they thought.

Here are the answers from James Robert Lay, Grower of Relationships at PTP New Media in Pasadena, Texas.

Denise:  What’s your 2020 vision of credit union marketing? Get it? The year 2020. Ten years from now? But seriously – what will it look like?

James Robert Lay: The credit union marketing landscape will be nothing like it is today in the year 2020.  The same can be true for any industry, not just credit unions.  The way organizations will market over the next 10 years will change tremendously.  Much of this change is due to two reasons.  The first reason is consumers are sick and tired of being bombarded by messages, some of them the same, every single day.  From TV to radio to direct mail, email, billboards, etc.

All these messages have created so much noise that we have been trained to block out everything.  This brings us to the second point in that organizations no longer control the message, the market does.  One way this can be seen is through the use of on demand access to content and media.  Don’t like commercials? Just DVR a show and blow through them.  The same can be true for radio with the rise of the iPod and satellite radio.  More importantly, with the rise of social media, organizations no longer control what is being said about their brand on a mass media level.

Credit union marketing in 2020 provides such a unique opportunity for credit unions to stop broadcasting messages to their members, get back to their grassroot foundations, and start connecting and listening to them.  It is through these personal interactions that the strongest, most powerful marketing channel can be cultivated, the member advocate, to go and help spread the good word of the credit union to their family, friends and community.

D:  If you had to pick one of the dying marketing mediums eulogized in my series (TV, radio, newspaper, direct mail)  to give life support to – which one would it be? Why?

JRL: Thats a good question.  For sure it would not be newspaper.  In my opinion, TV and radio are too broad of a marketing channel to really be effective.  In addition, more and more people will become immune to radio and TV advertising with DVR, iPods and satellite radio.  All that leaves is direct mail which can be effective when combined with non-traditional marketing.  We have seen this done before where a credit union sends out a targeted direct mail piece that includes a strong call to action to go online and do XYZ (not just a URL in 10 point font).

D:  What is your definition of social media?

JRL: I think a lot of people don’t understand or are afraid of social media because it is built around technology and can’t see past the zeros and ones.  However, social media is not about technology but instead social media is about sociology.  Its about connecting with people.  When we look at the history of the internet, Web 1.0 was a very static internet that connected documents together.  Web 2.0 on the other is a living, breathing, dynamic internet that connects people together.  The three keys in my book to social media success are to listen, learn and engage.  Too many times organizations try to turn social media channels (Twitter/Facebook) into another broadcast channel.

D: Music and video stores are almost extinct thanks to companies like Apple and Netflix. What industry do you think is on the verge of collapse? Why?

JRL: While I cant say for sure which industry is on the verge of collapse, I can say that any industry that does not or cannot adapt to changing trends will for sure go the way of the dinosaurs.  We are moving into a new era of business that is built around experiences.  Commodity industries, those where businesses provide the same product and service, will struggle to survive if they cannot learn to provide an experience that is different than the rest.

Take Starbucks for example.  Their entire business model was built on a commodity product, coffee beans.  They then became successful as they were able to take a commodity and capitalize on an experience.  You can go into any Starbucks and get the same experience.  The same look.  The same feel.  The same smell.  The same music.  As consumers, this makes us feel comfortable and their brand equity increases in our eyes.  We feel welcomed and loved.

To survive though, Starbucks however is having to change, adapt and adjust as new players enter the game.  The same can be true for credit unions as they really are in a commodity market and compete with other financial institutions.  When I ask credit unions, what makes you different, I typically get the same answers (rates and service).  However, this is not good enough as everyone else competes on rates and service.  To be successful in the future, I believe that credit unions will have to find a way to provide a unique, unforgettable experience that people remember, enjoy and want to experience again as well as share with others.

D: If Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos started a financial institution, how would they market it?

JRL: It would be heavily built around social and viral marketing.  It would be cool.  It would get people talking.  People would become believers and want to evangelize and help spread the word for them.  They would give away stuff for free to spark interest but not crappy pens and coozies.  Bright colors that are welcoming and inviting to complement and simple clean brand and tagline.  No fluff or marketing speak.  There would be no debit cards as your iPhone would be used for card-less transaction processing (even buying a coke from a machine).  You would be able to opt in to receive high customized and personalized alerts to your iPhone while providing an super easy way to opt out with one push of  button.  They would listen and evolve.

D:  Best and worst marketing moments of 2009. What comes to mind?

JRL: In my mind, the best and worst moment goes hand in hand.  It would have been early 2009 when Tropicana rebranded with a new look.  Pretty quickly a revolt followed but something amazing happened.  Social media gave them an ear to the market that they never had before to receive feedback so quickly.  They were able to listen to what their customers, their life blood, was saying and then quickly adapt and adjust going back to the previous brand.  This was pretty impressive to me that a larger organization on a national scale was able to listen, learn, engage and respond.

D:  Ginger or Mary Ann?

JRL: Um let me go hop on to catch some reruns of Gilligan’s Island and get back to you.

James Robert W. Lay founded PTP NEW MEDIA from his bedroom during college funded by selling his band equipment. It helped him pay for school. Five years ago he discovered credit unions and found success helping them build relationships with members online though web, viral and social marketing. James Robert also helped start the blog CU Grow and is the founder of CU*SWAG, a credit union viral t-shirt marketing concept.

He completed is MBA in 2006 at the University of Houston – Clear Lake. He is on the faculty San Jacinto College, is married and enjoys traveling to different countries and experiencing different cultures.

You can contact him at

Say Jay – forgot to ask you – “What’s the ‘W’ stand for?”

Mark and I moved to Camas, Washington from Long Island on October 30th. Since then I’ve met some amazing people in my neighborhood. I danced Thriller with them, and became a Tappin’ Santa in just two months. I’m even going to dust off my cello and learn a duet with one of them. I have some new home resolutions. To balance my life more. Make time for tap dancing and cello playing.

Thank you Lacamas Shores, and especially Sarah Canepa Bang for making me feel at home, and for inspiring me and showing me that when you have friends, the world is your oyster! Or as we’d say on Lawn-Guy-Land – Ya oystuh.

Disclaimer: Remember, the camera puts on 10 pounds and apparently I have 3 cameras on me!

I blame Sally for this recession.

The first prime-time animated TV Special based on the comic strip Peanuts aired on Thursday, December 9, 1965, preempting the Munsters and following the Gilligan’s Island episode “Don’t Bug the Mosquitoes.” Coca Cola was the sponsor and 50% of televisions in the US were tuned to this historic first broadcast. I was three.

Every year the show would air once. There were no VCRs, TiVos or Hulu.  There were only 4 stations. We were captive. We were the baby boomers and we wanted our fair share.

  • Instead of saving for that new television like our parents did, we’ll charge it!
  • We’ll buy a new car instead of a used car and finance 100%!

I want it NOW daddy! – Veruca Salt, from Willy Wonka

  • Everyone should have a home – that’s the American dream! Even if I have to lie to get it. And I’ll use that home like an ATM so I can get the tax write-off!

Sigh…..but then Linus takes the stage and reminds us of the reason for the season:

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Merry Christmas.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross published a ground breaking book in 1969 titled On Death and Dying.

It describes the process people go through when faced with a tragedy or catastrophic loss. I love this book. When I was in high school in the 70’s this was a text book for a class I took called Apostolic Involvement. I went to an all girls Catholic school and our assignment was to sit with two patients each day in a nursing home, hold their hand, talk, listen and then read a chapter in the book and journal our experiences. Very enlightening.

I mean this with the utmost respect, but I do believe that many marketers are experiencing these stages of grief in response to my Marketing RIP series. I revisited Kubler-Ross’ theory, and it makes sense. We’re talking about a lifetime, in some cases, of success and security using these methods. And now they are dying? Some will completely vanish? How can this be?

These worked so well for so long. Baby Boomers grew up with these. But if you want to attract the Gen Y crowd – and who doesn’t – you need to begin to move on…..I hope this helps.

The five stages of grief are:

  1. Denial. This can’t be happening to me.
    1. Marketing translation (MT) – there’s no way I’m going to do anything different. So we aren’t getting the response we wanted, I’ll blame the economy. Television and Radio ads will always be around. And direct mail – c’mon. How will our members know what products we offer if we don’t tell them?
  2. Anger. This isn’t fair!
    1. MT: I won awards for these marketing efforts! I have trophies in my office to prove that my radio, television and newspaper ads were winners! If we just stopped all of that marketing, we’d go under.
  3. Bargaining. I’ll do anything to keep things as they were – just for a little while longer.
    1. MT: Well, I can’t just STOP all marketing. What would I do? I have to keep to my marketing calendar – but I’ll dabble in social media. When I have time.
  4. Depression. I’m so sad, why bother with anything?
    1. MT: I hate Denise. I just heard yesterday that Pepsi and FedEx will not be advertising on Super Bowl Sunday – what the what? Could it be true? Is this the warning shot across the bow? I hate writing the monthly statement messages now – does anyone out there read it? Care? Life has no meaning.
  5. Acceptance. I’m going to be okay.
    1. MT: I’m open to exploring this thing called Social Media. I don’t know exactly what it all means, but I’m willing to go there. The best thing about credit unions – we are willing to share and commiserate and network and help each other. I accept that things are changing – rapidly – and I need new tools in my toolbox.

NEXT: The 12 step program for recovering media-direct-mail-a-holics. Thanks to Kelley Parks for that great idea!

I’m excited to announce that I will be co-hosting the CU Later 2009 CU Watercooler’s blog radio event on December 28th, at 10 AM PST.

Kelley Parks and Christopher Morris will be helping me recognize the best and the worst of credit union news, events, and random acts of kindness and weirdness in 2009.

We’ve also expanded this special to a full 60 minutes so we can hear from experts in our industry about what to expect for 2010.

Our distinguished guests are:

Dwight Johnston, Vice President of economic and market research at WesCorp and author of the blog DJ and the Bear.

Sally Myers, CEO of C. Myers Corporation and contributer to the C.myBlog blog. That’s fun to say. Try it.

And, Mark Meyer, CEO of the Filene Research Institute.

Love to hear who you would roast and toast for 2009!

I’ve received a lot of comments both online and offline about my eulogizing traditional marketing. The most common argument for continuing radio and television is that it’s affordable (in their market) and the board likes to see it. And when I speak in public about the eventual death of old marketing people get the most protective over this one – direct mail. Specifically “targeted” direct mail.

Don’t get me wrong. I used to do a lot of direct mail. We bought an MCIF just so we could household our members and track our results. But, what always bothered me when calculating my ROI math for the CFO was this:

Unless I had a coupon attached or some way of tracking that the “new” business did in fact come from the post card I just sent, how can I take credit for it? How did we know it wasn’t the great rate? Our stellar reputation? Crazy member loyalty? Or word-of-mouth that brought us all those loans? What if we didn’t mail out those post cards? Would no one come?

The USPS expects to be $7 billion in the red by year-end. They are closing offices, reducing delivery and increasing postal rates to stay afloat. The decline in mail volume as people rely more on e-mail, plus a dip in advertising mail because of the recession are the main causes. Some expect the postage stamp will quickly hit the $1.00 mark. That changes your ROI math dramatically.

A lot of marketing feels like stalking. Whenever you find yourself saying “We need to go after (insert product or type of member) you are bound to end up doing some things that feel intrusive. According to Psychiatric Times stalking is defined as:

repeated and persistent unwanted communications….such as telephone calls, letters, e-mail, and placing notices in the media.

Sounds a lot like traditional marketing, doesn’t it.

Key words. Repeated and unwanted.

Listening to a radio ad that says “That number again, 1-800…”

How about that television carny screaming at you “But wait! There’s more….”

And the piece of mail that is marked “URGENT” when in fact, it’s not.

Repeated and unwanted. Generation Y is definitely going to look at you like you’re a crazy bunny boiling lunatic if the only way you try to build a relationship with them is by showing up on their doorstep, in their car, on on their TV.  And don’t even THINK about invading their cell phone space. That would be the equivalent of dumping acid on the Volvo.

THIS JUST IN (12/17.09): Thank you to my dear friend Tom McWilliams for sending me the link to this story – USA Today announced that Pepsi will not advertise during the Super Bowl this year.  Nicole Bradley, marketing spokesperson for Pepsi said:

In 2010 each of our beverage brands has a strategy and marketing platform that will be less about a singular event and more about a movement.”

Hmmmmm…what an interesting choice of words.

Thanks to the folks at CUSwag for sending me this picture as well. Simply titled “The joy of not being sold anything.”

“Most marketing programs are based on the fear that the market might see what’s really going on inside the company.” – The Cluetrain Manifesto

Being involved in the social media arena – for me – is like riding a roller coaster. Sometimes I’ll look up at it while standing in line and think – nope – not gonna do it. But then people encourage me that everything will be fine and I get on. There are all kinds of ups and downs and twists and turns, feeling out of control, and times you just wanna scream. But when you go back to the safety of the platform, you think “Again!”

We are no longer in control of the conversation. That’s probably the scariest thing of all.

Our markets are getting smarter, faster. The CU Watercooler is the place to catch up on all the scuttlebutt. It’s a great way to understand the power of this new communication tool – social media. CU at the Watercooler!

I have been eulogizing the traditional marketing efforts for the last two weeks. I’ve had amazing comments online and offline. It seems that most people feel the same, traditional marketing is dying a slow and painful death – but are wondering – if I can no longer advertise on the radio or TV or in the newspaper – then what?

Well. The simple answer is. You’re going to have to pay attention to details and build business the old-fashioned way – by earning it.

The future of marketing is word-of-mouth. It’s not there yet. Not by a long shot. But it will be. Marketing had a great run. About 80 years to be exact. But for the thousands of years before the media, all products and services were marketed via word-of-mouth. It is – has been – and always will be the most effective and trusted form of advertising.

I’m taking the month of December off to re-brand myself. You’ll see a new look on my website and see a central theme emerging on this blog. I believe the future of marketing is to become the catalyst for:

Managing Moments of Truth and
Measuring Moments of Truth

Our product is service. It’s manufactured with the member/customer present.

Case in point. I have a car loan with Bank of America. I just moved from New York to Washington state. I was told by the lovely people at DMV that in order to get license plates for Washington I must contact B of A and ask them to fax a copy of the original title directly to the DMV office.

Sounds simple, right? You would be wrong. I’m not a big B of A fan to begin with and only have my car loan there because the dealer put me in that financing. I know. My bad.

First time I called B of A I tried to pay attention to the plethora of recorded options that greeted me – but when I selected from two menus and the recording continued “Press 1 for a blue car, Press 2 for a red car….” I just started hitting the “O” button and hoped. It worked. I was placed on hold for 10 minutes, got a person, a fax number – I’m golden.

Not so fast. When I tried to fax – the number just rang and rang and rang.

I called again. Having cracked the code I immediately hit the “O” button and was placed in the hold loop. Only about a 21 minute wait (I was told). In the meantime I was flipping through their site (as their on-hold message encouraged me repeatedly to do) to see if maybe I could find the right number.

Ah Ha! There’s an online chat button. Sweet. Here’s our conversation:

Bank of America has a giant marketing budget. Especially today as they try to rebuild their tarnished-greedy-tax-payer-bail-out-Kenneth-Lewis-egomaniac-management reputation. Some might think them successful because of their size. Too big to fail has changed the landscape. When it hits home – the taxpayer’s pocketbook – the rules have changed. I believe that consumers are getting ALL the power back in these relationships.

Social media is a communication tool that is shifting the power. Social media is not a marketing campaign. It’s no longer about you and your me-too products – it’s about them. Your members. They have a voice and they will use it. Some are using it as a weapon, while others are allowing their owners to speak for them.

It’s a tricky transition but one I truly feel marketing professionals need to make to stay relevant.

Stay tuned and thanks so much for reading and commenting. This is big scary stuff – we need to navigate these waters together. Otherwise it’s gonna be “Iceberg dead ahead!”

When your credit union chooses a name like Innovations – you have to kick it up.

Oh man do these folks deliver. David Southall is the CEO (dude in the green scarf). Awesome.
Merry Christmas!

This wasn’t originally planned for my 5 part series, but a Tweet from @jillnow got me thinking about another budget-sucker that we need to question. The Yellow Pages Ad.

Her tweet: Thinking about making a move to cut yellow pages ads. Help me out: when did you last use the phone book to find a loan? Or, well, anything?

Great question.

Here are some of the great responses:

@jrwlay, aka @cuswag: um….last time i used a phone book was when i was 8 so that i could see over the dash of the cesna plane i was flying. i am 28 now.

@morrischris: good call on the yellow pages. Money might be better spent on SEO and/or Pay-per-click ad efforts online.

@SonyaJMills: our phone books go directly to the recycling station….@morrischris is right on the $ IMO

@MKHostetler: Google is the new Yellow Pages.

@jimmymarks: I used a phone book when I was trying to kill a hornet once. YANK THAT YELLOW BUGGER OUTTA YER BUGET!

This is also a great example of the value of Twitter. Real time conversation.

Update that same day from @jillnow: Thanks for the phone book feedback! That’s $13K I can redistribute to something more fun (and effective).


RIP Yellow Pages Ad…..

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December 2009