You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2010.

1. Steve Jobs. His reputation, his brand consistency, his black shirt.

2. Liver transplant and back. Seriously. He takes medical leave and still comes out with the iPad.

3. It’s gorgeous and thin, like Steve.

4. There is nothing like it. yet……..I’m sure that HP and Sony and all the rest are R & D’ing now. Ripping off and duplicating.

5. It’s really not that expensive.

Nice try haters. Apple wins again.


I truly believe that corporations don’t have values, people do.

I developed this tool I call the “ripple effect”  to use in my consulting and strategic planning facilitation to a) show the board and CEO that what they really value is not necessarily what is framed on the board room wall and b) to help the management team realize they have very little control over their  brand or reputation.

It’s so simple in theory, but hard in practice. As luck would have it, our economy experienced a ripple effect akin to a tsunami when bad decisions, investments and values caught up with the banking system.

It has provided me with a wonderful illustration of the ripple effect. I give you the story of Washington Mutual or WaMu.

It’s September 25, 1889. The great fire of Seattle had destroyed 120 acres of the central business district. Washington Mutual begins to literally rebuild the city. They made their first home mortgage loan 5 months later. For the next 80 years, their focus was on the American Dream….owing a home, not having a mortgage. There’s a difference, in values.

The core of the ripple effect – values. So devoted were they to this value that in the 90’s they even stopped offering auto loans.

When leaders change, so do the values. In 2003 Chairman and CEO Kerry Killinger pledged to build WaMu into the “WalMart of Banking,” which would cater to the lower and middle class consumers that other banks deemed too risky. Big shift in values. The ripple effect begins.

The appetite for profits was huge and the housing market was feeding that hunger.

The ripple begins with rewards. Rewarded behavior is repeated. In the book Punished by Rewards, Janet Spence offers this observation:

[Rewards] have effects that interfere with performance in ways that we are only beginning to understand.

There is a time to admire the grace and persuasive power of an influential idea, and there is a time to fear its hold over us. The time to worry is when the idea is so widely shared that we no longer even notice it, when it is so deeply rooted that it feels to us like plain common sense. At the point when objections are not answered anymore because they are no longer even raised, we are not in control; we do not have the idea; it has us.

Values shifted. Measures and rewards shifted. WaMu began pressing sales agents to approve loans while placing less emphasis on borrowers income and assets. They set up a system that enabled real estate agents to collect fees of more than $10,000 for bringing in borrowers. Ripple.

On December 27, 2008, the New York Times featured an interview with a former WaMu mortgage processing center supervisor. The article stated:

“John D. Parsons was accustomed to seeing baby sitters claiming salaries worthy of college presidents, and school teachers with incomes rivaling stockbrokers’. He rarely questioned them. A real estate frenzy was under way and WaMu was all about saying yes.”

The ads were everywhere as was the word-of-mouth. Customers marketed for WaMu. Think about it. You’re WaMu’s new target audience. Blue collar worker. Renter. Suddenly you’re in a beautiful home. You brag. The power of yes is real. Ripple.

Pressure to keep lending emanated from the top (the values center) where executives profited from the swift expansion. They acquired mortgage companies in California, Illinois, Texas, Florida and New York. Kllinger received compensation of $88 million between 2001 and 2007 (the culture ripple – reward). WaMu pressed sales agents to pump out loans while disregarding borrower’s incomes and assets (the action ripple). WaMu’s the Power of Yes ads and word-on-the-street fueled growth (the reputation ripple).

“We hope to do to this industry what Wal Mart did to theirs, Starbucks did to theirs and Costco did to theirs and Lowe’s-Home Depot did to their industry. And I think if we’ve done our job, five years from now you’re not going to call us a bank.”

Kerry K. Killinger, chief executive of Washington Mutual, 2003.

Well Kerry, you were right about one thing. In five years you would not be called a bank – you would be called the biggest bank failure in American history. Congratulations.

He began to lead with his greed instead of his head, or his cold, cold heart. He valued the bottom line more than people’s well being. He lost site of the American dream. He will be credited in history as a catalyst in this economic crisis.

WaMu’s story ended eerily on the same day it began – September 25, 2008.

As you finalize your 2010 budgets, please take a moment to see what you value. What is getting measure, managed and rewarded? What ripple effect could that have on your reputation?

Today I’m hosting the weekly Liquid Lunch radio show for CU Watercooler.

I will be interviewing live the marketing experts from previous blog posts:

Olivier the Race Car Driver Raoust

James Robert What does the “W” stand for Lay

Jeff Sexy Photo Stephens and

Kent the Cool Dog Lover Dicken

You won’t want to miss it.

I completely forgot about this medium in eulogizing the death of traditional marketing. I guess I forgot because, well, I don’t see how you can avoid billboards – so I guess they are here to stay. Unless there are laws passed that prohibit….oh wait, here it is on Wikipedia (so it has to be true). Currently, four states – Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii and Maine – have prohibited billboards.

But if you’re lucky enough to live in the 46 states that allow billboards and you serve anyone who lives, works or worships along a major thoroughfare, consider this:

Seriously though, I do think a billboard advertisement can be effective. Here are 15 absolutely brilliant billboard ads.

The Dos and Dont’s of Billboard, Bus and Bench marketing:

  • Don’t try to say too much and discourage readership.
  • Don’t let your design suck.
  • Do remember the math of billboards: 8, 9, one in three, and 27.
  1. A person has about 8 seconds to react to your billboard.
  2. It takes 9 impressions to get into people’s minds.
  3. One in three times people aren’t paying attention to your billboard, so, they need to drive by your ad at least 27 times to get it.

I would love to see what credit unions are doing in this space. I don’t think this will die anytime soon.

For a member owned financial cooperative, these 11 simple words “I have a blog, and I wanted to let you know” is the equivalent of the member leaving the credit union lobby circa 1978, walking across the parking lot to the lunch room after an unpleasant transaction and sharing their experience. Only back then, they may have told only 5 people. Today they can tell 5,000 in less time than it takes them to cross the parking lot.

Today my Google Alerts gave me this:

How PSECU (Pennsylvania State Employee’s Credit Union) Swindled Me

If you want to understand why social media is so important. If you want to convince your boss that it’s not a waste of time for you to be in front of your computer reading blogs or following smart folks on Twitter, you need to read this blog.

Better yet – if you want to understand what brand is really about – not your logo, your tag line or the shiny happy people that adorn your website, brochures and branch walls ad nauseum – read this blog.

Your brand is your reputation. Period. If you mess with that, you’re toast. You can’t improve your reputation by purchasing shinier, happier people.

This is the new world for marketers. Members are in control. Not us. We can market our spanky new VISA card all we want. Lobby posters. Direct Mail. Newspaper, radio and even TV ads. Most people will ignore those. We’d like to think they don’t, but they usually do.

The power of this blog? I had to opt in. I wanted to read it. So will your members.

And the brand word was in there. This member understands what’s at stake. Reputation. I have to take her word for it – but if this credit union is dabbling in predatory lending practices to make ends meet, it might help them this year – but the future is bleak.

I had the honor of co-hosting the year end CU Watercooler Roasts & Toasts show last month. We awarded the first ever Golden Dixie Cup award to the best moment (in our opinion) in 2009 to Ondine Irving. [Oh, and Ondine, that trophy is on its way as soon as I figure out how to pack it..]

Ondine has single-handedly created a web presence that has captured the attention and devotion of Suze Orman by highlighting credit union credit cards that do not engage in predatory lending practices. At last count there were only 500 credit unions on her “dean’s list.” Suze is promoting her site on Larry King Live, CNN, and soon on Oprah.

Are there only 500 credit unions listed because the rest are….well…… this one? Please say it isn’t so.

Thank you to for the reminder – it’s your credit union and…. “I have a blog and I wanted to let you know.

I was lucky enough to coax the naturally shy and exceedingly modest folks at iDiz Incorporated to answer a few questions about the 2020 vision of marketing. Be sure to check out their “Who We Are” page. Like all great companies, they have resident dogs to keep things in order.

Here’s what Kent Dicken, El Queso Grande, Lisa Taylor, Gate Keeper and the always hilarious and insightful Kelley Parks, iDiz blog contributor had to say:

1. 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?

Kent Dicken:  Credit unions will finally all agree on a national marketing plan to explain what they are to a public that is still confused why they have to belong to a union in order to get any credit.

But seriously – just as people continue to become more mobile, credit unions will no longer be tied to geographic boundaries for FOM. Instead, CUs will re-embrace SEGS and be formed around larger regional/national/international groups (vintage Suzuki owners, Sierra Club, AAA, Red Cross, etc.) where people already identify themselves as belonging. This mesh of shared interest and membership finally makes sense to a public that still doesn’t trust banks and can now put their money where their heart is.

Lisa Taylor: I think we’re just starting to see the legal and social backlash against intrusion marketing. In ten years, there simply won’t be a legal way to force anyone to look at or listen to anything they didn’t ask for, unless they’re too clueless to enable spam filtering (while clueless people do make up a sizable market, maybe we’ll leave them to the banks). Instead, marketing is going to have to be useful, interesting, and/or entertaining.

I think a lot of marketing in 2020 will also become reputation tracking and management. People ARE talking about your CU, online and elsewhere, and the more people are in on the conversation, the more accurate it becomes. Marketers will also finally understand that reputation management means responding and changing the CU, not trying to blunder in and seize control of the conversation.

Kelley Parks: Lisa, you nailed it. I think marketing will also become an art form again. If all forms of unwanted solicitation are regulated out of existence, filtered or blocked, what is left will be beautiful, interesting and relevant. As Marketers we’ll be tasked with creating chemistry with consumers. We’ll no longer use militant words like targets, conquering markets or powering campaigns. Instead we’ll be catalysts for innovation and return to grass roots education. I can’t wait. Someone find me a mad scientist with a Delorian.

2. 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?

LT: I’d pick terrestrial radio. That’s the one that’s going to be around for a good long time. After all, traffic jams aren’t going anywhere. The life support I’d give it is more stations, more variety, and strictly local control (think our magic wand will work on the FCC and ClearChannel?). Corporate radio is simply strangling itself and the medium. If you look at the music industry, you see the same thing at work — the huge corporate musical crap factories are dying, but tiny niches and independents are thriving. Overall, there are fewer smash hits, but people are spending more total time and money on music.

KD: Each of these have their own audiences, so I’m not convinced any will cease to exist. But if I have to pick one to bailout, it would be newspapers. I fear that we will lose a (mostly) unbiased source of professional news reporting since there is not a profitable model for news online. Besides, it’s delivered every morning just in time to go with my coffee.

KP: Newspaper? Radio? No way. Quick – grab a defibrillator for our poor, sadly abused friend, direct mail. It has the most potential to be personal, relevant and connect since it is hand delivered and physically touched by a real person. And I don’t care how many emails, tweets, live chats, and blog conversations I have, nothing replaces the rare treat of a handwritten note. Even just seeing someone’s handwriting is so unusual its almost a novelty. Care packages, Hallmark cards, and $10 checks from Grandma. Long live meaningful mail.

3. What is your definition of social media?

KD: 1. A chaotic cacophony of creating, commenting and connecting.

2. An important way for credit unions to talk with members instead of at them.

KP: I have to follow cacophony? Wow, Kent. I had to look that up. Right now, I think its like going to a party. Some people are really outgoing and friendly. Some are a little timid and shy. And then there’s that one obnoxious drunk guy who shouts at random. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us act like college freshman drunk on what is free and available. With how quickly ideas can be spread on the internet, these tools are powerful reputation magnifiers. So we need to connect responsibly so we get invited back to the right parties.

LT: Simple — it’s just people talking to each other. Whether it’s in-person, on a telephone, or via some internet contraption, it fulfills the same need. The newer forms of social media are just shiny new ways of connecting people. The hard part is valuing this activity — it’s subtle, it takes a lot of time and effort, and marketers are usually pretty impatient.

4. 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?

KP: Traditional advertising agencies. The media captain must go down with his ship. Don’t get me wrong. Like every marketer, I once dreamed of creating clever Super Bowl Ads admired by millions, but I think it will be interesting to see how all of that creative ingenuity (and some of its accompanying ego) is repurposed to help marketers solve problems and connect with consumers in authentic, meaningful ways.

KD: Does anyone buy into the thinking of traditional agencies any more? I think that any business that uses their old-fashioned “lies, well-told” approach is history as well – it simply doesn’t work today. There’s no place to hide in a well-connected society of people with nearly infallible spam detectors. Scams will always be with us, but deceit is certainly not the best strategy if you want repeat business.

Clients are looking for more than gloss today, so advertising agencies will be replaced by marketing agencies that have a much deeper relationship with their clients — for example, more influence in their client’s actual practices – marketing X doesn’t work because you’re actually doing Y. So why not start finding unique ways to connect with consumers that are looking for Y?

Music and video stores presented the same products in the same old way and are now losing out because of new thinking and new technologies. But most companies, including credit unions, deal with “me-too” products. So in order to not become extinct, they need to adjust their thinking in order to connect with their market in a way that resonates, and learn to develop products that become part of their market’s lifestyle.

LT: I can think of two that are important to CUs and will require CUs to adapt as they change:

a) The traditional Realtor charging the seller the traditional 7%. This is an industry that depends utterly on restricting access to information and inventory, and it’s already starting to erode thanks to web sites that allow you to access information and list your home for sale for a set fee. The industry is fighting change tooth and nail, but it’s going to eventually lose that battle. Of course, it’s not going to vanish — home purchases are always going to be complex, and most people still need an advisor or facilitator. Realtors will eventually start working on a fee for service basis, much like attorneys or midwives.

b) The traditional car dealership is another industry that’s in the midst of collapse and sweeping change. For example, there are laws that force you to go through a dealership instead of buying new cars at the factory. These days, yet another middleman is just negative value. And in the information age, the traditional agonizing process of negotiating a price with a sleazy salesman can’t survive much longer.

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

KD:  Gotta-have financial lifestyle products with one-click service and free delivery.

LT:  Steve would finally figure out a way to make financial services cool and sexy (and still very profitable) and Jeff’s legions of electronic elves would make it work perfectly for everyone, everywhere. I think we’d finally see the wide-scale adoption of one integrated account — they’d do away with the old-fashioned 1920’s style hard-line distinctions between savings, checking, certificates, money markets, loans, lines of credit, etc. in favor of a more integrated, flexible, fluid form of money (This has been tried, but consumers are having a hard time understanding it.)

Of course, there would be a wonderful, tiny, touchable, shiny, desirable device, too — open an account, and you get the MoneyPod, jam-packed with transaction security, real-time financial status updates, and a built-in lie detector and pepper grinder.

KP: I want a MoneyPod. Even if it wasn’t a credit union it would feel very much like one because everything would be centered around the member’s experience and sense of belonging. Branches would have Money Geniuses, go virtually paperless, and tellers would be hip 20 somethings in jeans that come to you – the perfect marriage of high tech and high touch.  Online you’d transfer money into your iAccount and you’d be reminded to buy a toaster from an online registry for that upcoming wedding. You could do all your saving, spending, tracking and goal-setting in one place. Design, innovation and aesthetics would create a member experience worth talking about. So much so they would do the majority of the marketing. Ah yes. Let’s do it before they do.

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

KP: Denise, can I shamelessly plug our CU WaterCooler recorded Roasts and Toasts show here? In case you missed it, here are my best and worst of 2009 and a bonus 55 more minutes of credit union goodness along with some amazing vision from Dwight Johnson, Sally Meyer and Mark Meyers. (end of plug)

LT: I think the launch of Ally Bank is both the best and the worst. The marketing and positioning work was bold, powerful and simply brilliant — there are so many lessons to be learned here.

But the reality under the shiny exterior is that Ally Bank is just part of GMAC, and there are various howls of outrage that it was funded with GMAC’s taxpayer-funded bailout money. And the thing that makes me hopping mad is that credit unions should have owned this market position of “the unBank” long ago, and done it so well and so right that no one could go there again without looking like an imitation.

KD: Worst: Credit union management that commoditized their products so that nothing stood out, then cut marketing budgets and hibernated when their biggest competition was on the ropes.

Best:  Credit union management that realized marketing is the growth engine of their organization, not just an expense, and gained market share.

7. Ginger or Mary Ann?

KD: MaryAnn. Ginger is high maintenance.

LT: I’d want to be Ginger’s BFF, like Oprah’s friend Gayle. I’ve always dreamed of living a life of luxury.

KP: That’s tough. I love them both. Ginger is creative, dramatic and maintains a strong sense of who she is in even the worst of times. Then again, Mary Ann rolls up her sleeves and get things done. So, more importantly, which one is a credit union member? And do they need an emergency loan to get off the island?

Kent Dicken and Lisa Taylor are with iDiz Incorporated, a full service marketing, design and branding agency that helps marketers make better credit unions. You are invited to read, think, and share CU marketing brainstorms at, call 317.576.0602 to chat, or visit

Kelley Parks is Vice President/Marketing and Business Development at Call Federal Credit Union, and a frequent contributor to Contact her at

I first met Jeff Stephens in a coffee shop in Portland, Oregon. I am a big big fan of Umpqua Bank’s brand and it turns out he helped to create it. Now he’s the founder and CEO of Creative Brand Communications dedicated to helping credit unions think differently about this boring thing we call banking. So I asked him what he saw as the future of marketing.

What’s your 2020 vision of credit union marketing?

What I’d like to see is that credit union marketing in 2020 won’t really seem like marketing at all.  I think it will be about creating an “ownership” experience—making members really feel like members and owners, not just customers.  The day to day member experience will be the marketing.  I know there are readers out there saying “we do that now,” but even if that’s true, they’re isolated examples, and are not overtly obvious enough to the outside world.  And notice, I’m saying “different than banks,” not “better than banks.”  CU’s need to realize the distinction between trying to be better, and trying to be different, and need to focus on “different” much more.  I think the difference—the actual differences, not just the spoken differences—between credit unions and banks will have to become totally, painfully clear, to the point where the distinction is brutally obvious.  Credit unions will be apples, banks will be oranges.  Not just Gala vs. Braeburn apples..nobody can see that distinction, and nobody cares.  Diff. Fer. Rent. Not better.

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?

I would give life support to direct mail.  The future of marketing is obviously moving toward single conversations, one-on-one, between people.  If the industry can learn to convert direct mail from a one-way broadcast type of medium into a targeted tool that facilitates TWO-WAY conversation, I think we could pull it off death row.

What is your definition of social media?

I believe social media is real people talking WITH other real people, about stuff they want to talk about.  Simple as that.  Clearly the CU industry thinks social media is specifically about websites where you have a profile and “friends,” but in my mind social media is much much broader than that.  In most cases, today’s social media efforts by credit unions are really just the same old stuff CU’s have always been doing (talking AT people, trying to fit in and be cool, talking about money all the time, etc.), but just in a new venue.  As Seth Godin talks about in Meatball Sundae, you can’t just use the new tools to execute your old marketing strategies.  Social media requires acknowledging that your new marketing is not really marketing at all.

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?

Sorry to provide such an “expected” answer, but I honestly feel the retail banking industry is on the verge.  Not the small business banking, commercial banking or investments industries, but the banking services for the average Joe individual customer/member.  I say this because a) the products are soooo commoditized, b) the electronic channels have made them so self-service/DIY, and c) the experience of consuming these products/services is so generic and d) the internet has erased geographic boundaries, meaning all banks and credit unions are competing with all other banks and credit unions across the country. In other words, I believe we’re seeing a shift in leverage:  the retail credit union/bank needs that customer worse than the customer needs the credit union/bank.  And that will cause a big change.

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

I think their marketing would not feel much like marketing at all.  I think they would focus on two things: 1) obsessing over how you feel when you use the product (think of how when the iPhone came out, you wanted other people to see you using it because it made you look cool. You wanted bystanders to ask, ‘woah is that an iPhone?!’), and 2) they would make sure their business model itself was interesting enough that it was worth talking about (think free shipping, no-hassle returns, etc. like Zappos)

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

Best Marketing Moments:  I think the “Best Job in the World” campaign by Queensland Tourism folks was great.  Very engaging, smart and buzzworthy.

Worst Marketing Moments:  The Skittles Twitter debacle was certainly among the worst.  This was a great example of a company misunderstanding the purpose and application of a medium like Twitter, and trying to manipulate it for their own benefit.

Ginger or Mary Ann?

Mary Ann.  Grrrr, baby.  Very grrr.

Creative Brand Communications (CBC) specializes in multi-sensory marketing and brand development. CBC stands for the brand development marketing agency for progressive banks and credit unions, known for its utter disregard for conventional wisdom and absolute regard for powerful thinkers.

I asked Olivier Raoust’s company a few questions about the future of marketing in the credit union space. Raoust & Partners are responsible for the Innovations Credit Union Lip Dub video, so I know they look at things differently. Here’s what they had to say:

1. What’s your 2020 vision of credit union marketing? In 10 years, what will marketing look like?

Olivier F. Raoust, CEO: Hopefully the majority of credit unions will stop recycling tired ideas and concepts. The problem largely stems from the marketing function which too often is ignored by the stakeholders (CEO, Board). Additionally, while new channels (including social media) are being introduced at an increasingly rapid rate, the main objective has never changed: create a sticky and genuine brand positioning that will resonate with your core membership. In 2020, I envision better ways to engage members where the focus will have switched from preaching and boasting to a true dialogue between institution and member.

Charles Sefton Parr, Co-Creative: The same. Let me elaborate on that though.

It will be the same because we will use whatever current communication trends are being utilized. The same as marketing in 2009 will have to shift to be relevant in 2010. It changes every minute. Long gone are the days of the old phrase: “What have you done for me lately.” Now it is replaced by: “What have you just done for me.”

Donna Lewis Raoust, CFO: I would only add here that the one thing that should never change, regardless of the year and the “current” marketing/advertising forces du jour, is that marketing plans must be reflective of a credit union’s existing member base as well as potential members. By this I mean that regions of the country and localities within each region will always have their eccentricities and unique needs that need to be addressed.

2. 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?

OFR: Definitely TV. It educates and entertains like no other medium. And after all years of talking about convergence, it is finally happening. With the advent of YouTube, AppleTV, HULU, etc, the lines are blurring. The video “box” will never disappear, only the content will evolve.

CSP: I would pick TV.


People still watch TV. I know, I know, DVR’s/ have killed the commercial. Yet everyday I hear and read about TV ads. Nobody talks about the other choices. Ever.

TV is entertainment. Entertainment can deliver a message. TV entertainment fits into the marketing scheme to invoke the viewer.

You think the Slap-Chop Rap TV spot didn’t create social media buzz? I do. And that is my point. TV in some people’s eyes is a dying medium. I do not concur with that. TV just needs to find a better way to fit into the modern day messaging.

30 seconds is dead. I will give you that one. But, I say revolt against the time slots. Create an entertaining piece that can sell something passively and watch the return on investment.

DLR: I would largely agree with Charlie’s assessment here, although I do think that there is still a place for well-crafted and designed, interesting/arresting Direct Response, especially to existing members or targeted (highly targeted) prospective members.

3. What is your definition of social media?

OFR: Overhyped? Certainly can be and you have to wonder about its current state when even detergents have their own fan page. Like any new medium, it is evolving and I believe we will arrive at a better consensus. For credit unions, social media should be the conduit to be advocates – use its power to really define ‘People Helping People’.

CSP: Media that is social?

Let me better define that: The spread of information that is shared across multiple channels to spread a personal yet relevant message about any specific topic.

Whether it be twitter, facebook, tweetmeme, digg, stumbleupon, reedit, myspace, etc… the creation of a virtual network of eyeballs, that hopefully will embrace your message and carry it on. Or, continue the discussion with their very own facts or disputes.

DLR: Plainly and simply, Social Media is all about “me.” It is every human’s opportunity for ongoing 15 minutes of fame. The problem with “institutional” social media is that by and large, it comes across as purely self-promotional (me, me, me all the time). Additionally, I am finding that the majority of an entity’s followers/fans/participants is the competition. Or, in the case of a credit union’s Facebook and Twitter pages, often the fans and followers are primarily composed of companies like R+P, that either do business with that credit union or would like to do business with that credit union. Social Media is the “buzz term” of the moment, that phrase that will get a consultant or a marketing firm an audience with a prospect. That really bothers me b/c Social Media needs to be done well, really really well to resonate with members/prospective members. And I am finding that most pundits’ understanding of the power of Social Media is superficial at best.

When done well, Social Media, especially for a not-for-profit institution can be extremely powerful. And I will use Innovations’ Fan Page here as an example. They do not post often, but when they do, you feel a real affinity for that post – the joy, the excitement, the soul of the organization. It’s very real and completely uncontrived. For that reason specifically, you feel as though you really want to belong to this credit union.

4. 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?

CSP: That traditional “brick and mortar” bank that handles your financial transactions.


Well, let’s take a look at USAA with their ability to scan a check or take a photo of the check with your iPhone to make an instant deposit. Imagine if all banking solutions adopted this functionality. The branch would become a ghost town of tellers. Sure, you would still have some who would go to the branch and withdrawal and deposit. The very same way that people still buy CD’s and DVD’s from stores. But, the physical object demand is much lower than only just a year ago.

DLR: Yep. I agree, although I would say that newspapers as we know them have a much better chance of going extinct before “brick and mortar” banks. And well they should. For the most part, they have done very little to stay truly relevant in an increasingly competitive news environment – an object lesson for us all.

OFR: I respectfully disagree with my colleagues here. I do not believe “brick and mortar” will disappear for FI’s. In fact, the smart ones will leverage the physical space to better define their brand. Let’s face it: the majority of credit unions do a very poor job of using their branches, where the transactions feel more like queuing at the DMV or post office. It ain’t about slapping posters on the wall either.

The industry that is vanishing is newspapers. Plain and simple, it’s yesterday’s news. Wasteful too. But more that, the content is still pushed the same way it was 50, 100 years ago – long form. People increasingly don’t want to take the time.

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

CSP: Well for one thing there wouldn’t be any buttons and every time you went to your CU there would always be suggestions of exactly what you may want in your financial product mix.

DLR: And, I guarantee you that this financial institution would have strategic plans in place for many upcoming years (that they actually stick to!), they would lead the pack with the introduction (regularly and consistently) of new, improved, advanced services, packages of services, etc., and banking there would be FUN for the member/customer b/c for all their brilliance and expertise, these guys (or at least their companies) don’t seem to take themselves too seriously.

OFR: I agree with Donna here: they’d have a well thought out strategic plan, and they’d stick to it. Establishing a successful brand demands creative thinking and consistency; something most credit unions ignore at will, choosing to rely on the latest ‘buzz’ or prepackaged, formulaic solutions.

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

OFR: Best = The rise of YouTube as the real birth of convergence.

Worst = Jumping on the social media bandwagon without a clear plan on how it supports the brand. (we HAVE to do it, ‘cause everybody else is…….. huh???)

CSP: Best – Leveling the playing field with the rise and popularity of Twitter.

Worst – Spam on Twitter.

DLR: Best = our introduction to ReachLocal, which gives a small institution the ability to effectively play in the largest sand box of them all. Worst = The self-aggrandizing self-promotion of so many of these self-proclaimed pundits. I would much rather “walk the walk” than simply “talk the talk.” You asked!!!!!!

7. Ginger or Mary Ann?

OFR: Ginger, because she’s dangerous…

CSP: That’s a tough one, but I’ll try. Mary Ann.

DLR: Definitely Mary Ann. That Ginger is too high maintenance!

Raoust+Partners is a comprehensive marketing firm focused on helping clients in tough businesses, with intense competition, who will value thier contributions. They work with their clients to help them develop strategic full contact marketing programs.

Established in 1995 by Olivier Raoust, they bring more than 100 years of combined experience to the table, plus a “do-what-it-takes-to-win” attitude.

Perhaps this is because their founder, Olivier Raoust, is a fiercely competitive man. One outlet for his competitiveness is sports car club racing, the weekend circuit for real road warriors, where the best driver – executing the best strategy – can beat the better car.

Solving problems at 100 miles an hour has helped Olivier hone his skills at helping clients deal with difficult competitive situations.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 993 other subscribers


January 2010