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One of the most difficult concepts for credit unions to grasp today is that of target audience. And yet every single credit union alive today owes their very existence TO a target audience. Firefighters, teachers, postal workers, churches, big employers like Boeing, IBM, GM, and the like. The common bond is what launched our industry and carved a niche in a very crowded marketplace.

But fast forward today and through mega-mergers, charter changes, two recessions and some bad management most credit unions have adopted a community or multiple SEG charter. Their territory – anyone who lives, works or worships in a multiple county area – is confused with target audience.

One of the arguments I hear against declaring a target is the misconception that you will exclude a group of people. After all, everyone needs financial services so why would I turn anyone away?

In my opinion there are two reasons why it is absolutely necessary to take the time today to figure out who your target audience really is:

1. Targeting an audience focuses your very limited resources.

2. Targeting an audience allows you to innovate and make the competition irrelevant – again.

There is one shining example of how a company innovated through targeting and as a result dominates their marketplace. Here’s the story of the iPod.

Steve Jobs readily admits that he came to the MP3 player game late. His passion was video. But when he realized there was evolution of portability and durability happening at a record pace (get it?) he used the power of psychographic targeting to disrupt the music industry.

Most people think of target audience around demographics. Females age 25-35, for example. To really innovate, that’s too broad. A psychographic approach to that same group might be “single moms with toddlers.” Psychographics identifies a problem that exists and aims to solve it. Every time I look to solve a problem I begin my thought process with “How might we……” In the case of the single moms “How might we make the errand of banking joyful for single moms with toddlers?” By asking that question and narrowing the audience I’ll bet you can immediately think of changes you would make to your lobby, service delivery, speed, etc.

Okay – so back to Steve.

Consider the evolution of music. Let’s go way back to the 1970s….

The vinyl record album. 
Problem? Durability and portability (you couldn’t play it in a car)
Solution? The 8-track tape and player

The 8-track tape player
Problem? Took us away from the familiar Side A and Side B – music was hard to find on demand. Not as durable as we hoped.
Solution? The cassette tape.

The cassette tape.
Problem? Still had some durability issues but gave us the ability to record our music – the mix tape was born.
Solution? The compact disc (CD)

The CD
Problem? The initial roll-out did not allow for recording but the quality was so great, music junkies replaced their vinyl and tape libraries with CDs.
Solution? The audio file format and the MP3 player

Here’s where it gets interesting. As you can see from the evolution of music above, the focus was always on durability, portability and not until the CD format, quality of sound. By now people demanded all of those features. And the person that was most interested was this target audience:

Raise your hand it you were the type of person that would call a radio station, request a song, and then stand by your tape recorder and wait for it to be played so you could record it?

In every audience that I ask this question there are always a small group that fit this profile. The audience always laughs, the “guilty” however are proud of it and when they see who else did it they form a bond – a common bond.

That was the target audience that allowed Apple to truly innovate. It wasn’t the iPod that was revolutionary. Is was iTunes. He knew that there were people so passionate about controlling their music listening experience that they would spend hours making the perfect mix tape. How easy is it to make a mix tape with iTunes? It’s insane.

And so consider this, and this happened two weeks ago. I asked a group of 75 credit union employees to raise their hand if they were the target for iTunes (the song requesting, mix tape making crazy). Only 4 people raised their hands. Then I asked, how many of you have iTunes today?

Every hand went up.

I rest my case.

Now go target an audience before your competition forces you to merge because you are still trying to be all things to all people.

One of the first times I visited Santa Fe I discovered StoryPeople by Brian Andreas. I guess you’d call him a poet/thinker/artist. I get daily “stories” in my email that never cease to amaze and inspire me.  Here’s the story for the day:

tetilla peakIt is not what you first think.
There is no effort of will,
no firm resolve in the face
of this thing called life.

There is only paying attention
to each quiet morning,
while you hold your cup in the cool air
& then that moment you choose to spread your love
like a cloth upon the table
& invite the whole day in again.

12th-Man-SeattleCongratulations to the Seattle Seahawks! Russell Wilson, the quarterback made this comment after the win against the 49ers on Sunday:

“We played so hard,” Wilson said. “We talked at the beginning of year, `Why not us? Why not us?’ That’s kind of been our mind-set.”


Indeed – here’s my favorite speech of all time that echoes that sentiment:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant? Gorgeous? Talented? 
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
As as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fears,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

From the 12th man to the Hawks.

Is it just me or do these mid-week holidays mess you up? And I’m not just talking about the drinking and eating. Here’s why I think we should pass a law against mid-week holidays.

  1. You experience two Mondays in four days.
  2. You have to go back to work the “Monday” after the big one which could (should) limit your consumption.
  3. Your trash day is moved up a day. You know it. I know it. I don’t trust it so I still drag it to the curb on my regular trash day.
  4. You get two Fridays, but on the first one you get ripped off with only one day off.
  5. If you’re self-employed everyone you work with or want to work with is out of the office. Which means no emails, no calls, no interaction.

toklxmas_hangovercuresWhat if we make it a law that Christmas and New Years has to be celebrated on a Friday? No one seems to mind when we have “President’s Day Observed.” There’s no outrage over that. Technically December 25th was not Christ’s actual birthday so we’ve been “observing” it all along.

Thursday businesses close at 2:00pm, Friday is the holiday. Saturday is the recovery day and Sunday is the Lord’s day. Back to work nice and fresh. Nobody gets hurt.

Who’s with me?

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

I was thinking this morning that I should write a year in review and I’ll be darned if WordPress didn’t do it for me. Enjoy. Happy New Year!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

This is the time of year when you cannot avoid the movie It’s a Wonderful Life and are reminded what a credit union used to look like.

Times were so simple then. We had shares and we had loans. And then along came the share draft account. The Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act signed into law by President Carter in 1980 did not say we HAD to offer checking. It merely said we could.

What if you had never offered checking?

Seriously. Think about it.

  • According to the American Banker article published in December of 2011 the average checking account costs around $350 a year and fee income averages around $150 per account.
  • PFI (primary financial institution) indicator? Think again. In August of this year Cornerstone consulting reported the median products per household dropped by 28% to 2.52 per household. And one of those is checking.
  • Two words: call center. They didn’t exist until we offered the checking account. What percentage of incoming calls are tied to checking? Even though you’ve spent hundreds of thousands on devices to keep them from calling.
  • One word: Target. I feel bad that the second largest security breach in US history happened to a retailer I love, but it did. And it’s going to cost some credit unions tons of money to make sure their members’ checking accounts are secure.

Raddon has done the math on this for years. A single service household (checking)  is unprofitable. Period. It’s a black hole of expense if you don’t do something with the relationship. PFI doesn’t just happen. You have to be willing to lend to these new unknown entities. 

Bank of America, in the wake of the backlash over their proposed $5 a month debit card fee,  admitted to being “okay” with single service households moving to a credit union.

What if you dumped checking? Told all of your checking account holders that you were going to help them move to the credit union down the street. Maybe even offer them an incentive? Then show them your interest rates on savings? You could probably pay 50 bp or more. And your loan rates? You guessed it – you could beat everyone.  Think of the staff you could reduce. The regulation headaches you could eliminate. The fraud you would avoid.

It’s a wonderful life.

There is nothing more trying on the human spirit than airline travel. What once was considered luxury and only for the very privileged is now a hostage like humiliating experience. Yesterday I was to board a 5:27pm flight from ABQ to DIA, spend a luxurious 30 minutes in the United Club (at $500 a year membership fee) and then off to SEA for business/family/friends/fun long week-end.

Instead I write this from the lobby of the Courtyard Marriott in Denver compliments of United Airlines in yesterday’s clothes.

It had nothing to do with weather which is why I was labeled a distressed passenger and provided with complimentary lodging and a $7.00 meal voucher. It was “crew delay.” Not sure if that meant the pilot wasn’t sober or a flight attendant overslept….nevertheless it provided me with less than ten minutes to run the 1/2 mile from Gate B71 to B25 in heels. I have flown 1.2 million miles with the Friendly Skies. I know they use computers because I can see them. I know they have the ability to communicate from the air to the ground because I have heard them. But by the time I got to the gate the door had closed. The airplane was still there. I have been on United flights where we reopened the door for a distressed passenger. So UAL, a question. How many miles do you have to fly for this privilege?

My guess is it is up to the crew. As are most customer service experiences. How do they feel about their employer at that moment of truth? Time to viciously comply with the rules or make a loyal customer’s day? Thanks for subsidizing my $12.95 breakfast buffet. This experience only cost me $5.00 plus tip, $90.00 in cab fare, a business meeting and a chunk of my soul. Keep up the good work.


This morning a dear old friend posted on her Facebook page the first concert she ever went to – and it was with me. KC & the Sunshine Band. I think it was 1975. And it got me to thinking about the old days. Cuz that’s what you do when you….get old-er.

And so I give you, young children, what life was like before the internet.

1. To find a restaurant, we pulled over to a phone booth, grabbed a phone book (if someone hadn’t already ripped it off) put a dime in the machine, dialed the restaurant and asked for directions. Which means we had to have a pen and paper.

2. We drove to Crystal Ship Records when the new Carole King Tapestry album came out and hoped they still had a copy. If not, we drove to Crystal Ship records again and hoped they had a copy.  Rinse and repeat, until they had a copy.

3. On our birthday our mailbox (meaning the physical one at the end of the driveway) was filled with paper birthday cards.

4. If we wanted to make split pea with ham soup we asked our mom for the recipe. She made us re-write it on our own recipe card because she wasn’t about to loan us hers – soup stained as it was.

5. We made sure we were sitting in front of the television on Saturday night at 11:30pm on NBC (one of four channels on your TV) to watch John Belushi on Saturday Night Live. If we missed it, it would be years before we could see it again.

6. We had to read books to do book reports. And the books were made of paper.

7.  We had to get up off the couch and flip the record album over.


8. We asked the librarian where the book was in the library that held the information we needed. Like what does this rash mean?

9. We played board games on a board.

10. We went for walks, and sat in restaurants and talked to each other, we didn’t post every moment in time on Facebook – we lived those moments.

And then 38 years later thankfully we could post that moment on Facebook because it brought back some really great memories.  Thanks Julie.

I have said it over and over again – if you want your credit union’s brand to stand out and mean something you need to GET RID OF the shiny happy stock art people and find something unique, fun, beautiful, telling. But have you been listening to me? No.

Google “credit union” and “your state” and click on the top five websites. Go on. I’ll wait. I’ll bet 4 out of 5 of those sites were festooned with people you don’t recognize as being part of your community. Am I right? Check out this one.


The credit union that chose this picture is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. According to there are 555,417 residents of ABQ, and 3% are African American, 2% are Asian. I mean at least use stock art that is somewhat representative of your demographic. I HATE it when we trip over ourselves trying to be politically correct by using photos like this.

Well finally there is a real reason – a cautionary tale if you will – to stop using pictures of people you don’t know.

I give you the face of Obamacare: Adriana.


She said she was never paid for appearing on the troubled site. She’s a stock art model. She gets paid for having her picture taken and then folks like Getty Images re-sell it to marketers who are obsessed with shiny happy people. According to Fox News she has become one of the most despised women on earth and has been “bullied.” Poor Adriana!

They have removed her picture from the site. Please take down your shiny fake faces before more people get hurt.

About 1,400 years ago, long before Europeans explored North America, a group of people living in the Four Corners region chose Mesa Verde for their home. For more than 700 years they and their descendants lived and flourished here, eventually building elaborate stone communities in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Then, in the late A.D. 1200s, in the span of a generation or two, they left their homes and moved away. Mesa Verde National Park preserves a spectacular reminder of this ancient culture.

On Saturday I visited Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. The only guided tour into the cliff dwellings still open (for the season) was Cliff Palace.  We paid our three bucks, drove the 30 miles up a windy road and met Ranger Wolf.  To get to Cliff Palace you had to navigate some pretty steep steps down, and on the way out three ten foot ladders through a tiny crevice in the rocks. I was a little unsure if I wanted to do this (truth be told my knees are still aching) but I am so glad I sucked it up and did it.  Check it out:


The lives of these Ancestral Pueblo people was focused on food, procreation, survival.  To get food and water they had to climb up the cliff, often with a jug of water balanced on their head and baby strapped to their back while doing it. Women lived to be around 24 and most died hemorrhaging in child birth. Men hung around to about 33 but often died with compressed spines and arthritis from the daily beating (literally) of making bricks and building and farming and hunting. This is  Colorado so winters are fierce. It’s not unusual for the temperature to dip below zero and stay there. This cliff dwelling kept them alive. Imagine spending six months with your relatives in a “house” the size of your living room? That’s what they did every winter. To survive.

Here’s my Tuesday:

This morning I worked out on my Octane Elliptical Trainer while watching last week-end’s episode of SNL on my Apple TV via Hulu Plus.

I got a little miffed at the speed of my internet connection – the show buffered once.

For lunch I nuked some left over spaghetti from last night.

Last night I opened a jar of spaghetti sauce, dumped it in a pan with some ground beef and boiled some noodles on my Kitchen Aid gas range. I put the dirty dishes in my Bosch whisper quiet dishwasher.

I just had to put on a sweatshirt because my radiant heat is programmed to shut off at 8:00am and my home office got a little chilly.

I’m listening to KINK FM radio (a Portland, Oregon station) on my Internet radio while I write this.

I’ll probably live to be 70.

I just noticed I could really use a manicure.

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July 2020