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This is the message I sent to the staff of Del Norte Credit Union last Friday.
What you Do Matters

brandyou2012.004My first job was as a serving wench for ‘Enry Beazely’s Fish-n-Chips in Portland, Oregon. My first boss was – you guessed it – Mr. Beazely. 

On my first day he told me “Denise, we are put on this earth to serve. And when you are serving others, and that can mean pumping tartar sauce in a cup, you are doing work that MATTERS.” 

From that day forward I made a vow that I would always do work that mattered. And that’s why I love credit unions – we are here to serve our members, and if we’re not directly serving them we are serving someone that is. 

Know that what you do, every single day at Del Norte, matters.
It’s been my honor to serve you.

Denise Wymore

And so there you have it. Today I begin a new journey as Co-Founder of PrincipleSix.  The name comes from the sixth cooperative principle: Cooperation among Cooperatives. I truly believe we are better together. Our market share remains stagnant because we steal members from each other – not from the real enemy – big banks.

Oh, and I found out that members DO care that we are a cooperative. They might not use that word – but when you emphasize that you are local, not a bank, don’t charge ridiculous fees, have better service and give back to your community – it matters to them.

Will everyone in your marketplace care? No, of course not. But it’s a difference we need to honor.  I have first hand knowledge of the success that can come from sharing branches, sharing advertising costs, and innovating to solve problems.

I am drunk with power, I just bought a $400 suitcase and learned that I can project Keynote from my iPad. Life is good.

Hope to see you soon.

UPDATE: Lesson learned. Just because the URL is available it does not mean the name is available. There exists a wonderful group of grocery store co-ops that call themselves P6 but registered their name is PrincipleSix. We talked with them – nice folks – and in the spirit of cooperation we have decided to not use PrincipleSix.

I am proud to announce that I am Co-Founder of 6th Story. Telling your credit union’s story using the sixth cooperative principle. Good stuff to come.

Have you seen the new JC Penney commercials? Or should I say have you “heard” the new JC Penney commercials? It’s basically 60 seconds of screaming. And it’s caused quite a stir in social media. Few love it – most hate it – lots are talking about it.

JC Penney is trying to rebrand. And of course what that really means is – they have a new logo. Your brand is your reputation. And JC Penney has a reputation for being a bland mall anchor store. Kind of like Sears, Mervyns and Dillards. It’s not easy changing a reputation. Consider this. If you had a bad reputation in high school – how easy was it for you to rebrand yourself? Impossible. The best thing about high school is it ended. So you could move to a new State where no one knew your past and rebrand yourself. Unfortunately – JC Penney’s reputation is national and well-known.

Have you noticed that when these new “outdoor” malls or Villages spring up only the cool kids get asked to play? Like Anthropologie, Apple, Williams Sonoma and Chicos? Not JC Penney. Their brand is not chic enough or expensive enough.

So let’s take a look at the new JC Penney logo.

Seems they recycled the failed rebranding of Gap.

Sadly no one is protesting the new JCP moniker like they did with Gap – just the screaming commercials.

The new JCP promise – that is implied with the logo and the moaning Myrtle in the commercial – is fair and square pricing. Yup. You heard it – they are going to compete on price. With that logic I’m hard pressed to figure out who their target audience and competition are.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has partnered with the retailer to serve as a spokesperson for the retailer’s new identity. Remember SEARS, “Where America Shops” and their partnership with Chery Tiegs?

Time will tell if JCP can become America’s favorite department store.

It was two years in the making. When Jim Jerving asked me to co-author a book I still lived in Seattle and had my own business. Then I moved to New York, Portland, and finally Cochiti Lake, NM where I happily commute to Santa Fe each day to serve the members of Del Norte Credit Union.

Jim has been very patient and a wonderful writing partner. Hell, it took Julia Child over 7 years to complete Mastering the Art of French Cooking. So two years isn’t bad – we had to make sure the recipes were accurate too.

But it’s done. It’s available on and we think it’s pretty darned good. 

Not as many pictures as my first book, Tattoos: The Ultimate Proof of a Successful Brand. No Donny Osmond or Catholic church references, but a good read anywho. If you’re a marketer, a severe warning: we question everything you hold sacred. We poop in the proverbial marketing punch bowl.

For those of you that are marketing through social media, we kind of verbally spank you.

For those of you that love Net Promoter Score – we serve it up with a dollop of whipped cream and a cherry on top.

This book has something for everyone. Enjoy!

Now I’m off to start my new writing adventure – stay tuned.


Two words: Instant. Gratification.

Last week-end I was catching up with all the Hollywood gossip in People magazine and read a review of Jonathan Franzen’s latest book. I love him. Pulled out my Kindle and bam. Owned it.

Earlier this week I posted on the CUCallCenter blog the ROI on a social media journey. We posted this video, and sat back and watched the hits like it was, well television. Instant feedback.

Just now my niece texted me (during breakfast) that Netflix dances on Blockbuster’s grave with instant viewing of Battlestar Gallactica! Frakking awesome news.

Netflix gets it. When Blockbuster was still making people queue up on a Friday night to get the latest release and penalizing you if you did not drive BACK to the store within 24 hours to return it, the folks at Netflix were beginning to digitize all titles.

As my friend Brent Dixon said at the Credit Union Association of New Mexico’s Annual Meeting this year. Now means now. Not in five minutes or five days. Instant gratification. That’s what Gen Y expects. Is it reasonable? Sure. Better yet, is it possible? Of course.

Consider the primary financial indicator (or so most people think) the checking account. A royal-pain-in-the-you-know-what-to-move. And how have we addressed the issue? A switch kit that looks like a To Do list highlighting what a a royal-pain-in-the-you-know-what-to-move it is. Another glaringly obvious idiocy?  Being told I’ll have to wait 7 to 10 days to receive my Debit card. BUT, I can still get a pad of temporary checks instantly. Gen Y wants it now. Ten days is an eternity. They don’t even know HOW to write a check.

I’m going to go watch the BSG now. Frakking awesome.

So say we all.

This morning Nathan Capron, Marketing Specialist for UniWyo FCU posted the link to the Beloit College Mindset for the Class of 2014 on the CUNA Marketing Council ListServ. Nathan had a great intro to the piece:

“I think I read somewhere that attracting Gen Y was a hot topic for credit unions; has anyone else read that? (he adds that was intended to be sarcastic).

The intended audience are professors at Beloit. It’s to help them create relevant connections in the classroom. Nathan wisely sees the application in our marketing.

If we’re to lower the average age of a member from 48 to 47 (a lofty goal) we need to start thinking like a Beloit College professor.  I give you a glimpse of the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.

1. Since digital has always been in the cultural DNA, they’ve never written in cursive.

2. With cell phones to tell the time, there is no need for a wrist watch.

3. They will be armed with iPhones and Blackberries, on which making a phone call will be only one of the many many functions they will perform.

4. Email is just too slow and they seldom, if ever use snail mail.

5. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

6. Nirvana is on the classic oldies station.

7. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

Takeaway: If you’re still trying to lure new members with a free box of checks, and no mobile banking application, you’ll likely die of old age.


Got home late last night. House was so quiet I flicked on the TV for company. The Teen Choice Awardswere in full swing. At first it scared the hell out of me because as soon as the set clicked on there was only the sound of about a thousand girls screaming. I mean shrieking. ForJustin Bieber.

I was diving for the remote to change channels when I thought wait a minute….our goal is to youth-a-nize the credit union movement, lest we die of old age. I need to watch this. Relate to it somehow.

And then it happened, OMG that’s Kurt from Glee taking the stage  – I LOVE him! And he seems so relaxed and nice and well, Kurt like.  I decided right then and there that the Teen Choice Awards should be required viewing for anyone in marketing with the task of attracting the teen crowd.

Here are the results of my “study”

I can relate more to teens than I thought possible:

Choice Movie/Drama: The Blind Side (Academy Award winning actress Sandra Bullock)

Choice Actress/Movie: Tina Fey

Choice TV Show/Comedy: Glee

Big fans of all of the above. I have found common ground. Important aspect of the beginning of any relationship.

Things I must find a way to tolerate and embrace:

Choice TV Show/Drama: Gossip Girl (beating out Grey’s Anatomy and House)

Choice TV Actress/Comedy: Selena Gomez of Wizards of Waverly Place(never heard of her or her show – but she beat Lea Michele of Glee – what?)

Choice TV Reality Show: Keeping Up with the Kardashians (but at least it beat Jersey Shore)

Choice Movie/Fantasy: Anything Twilight Zone (which beat out everything Harry Potter)


It’s okay to like some of your teens favs, but don’t like them so much that you are caught carrying around a book, TiVoing it or hanging a poster of he/she in your bedroom. That’s a sure way to kill that teen connection.

Newer is better. They root for the underdog in that sense. When Zoe Saldana beats out Scarlett Johansson, Rachel McAdams, Gwyneth Paltrow and Amanda Peet for choice actress in a Sci-Fi you have to wonder – who the hell is Zoe? You should know. But again, and I can’t emphasize this enough – don’t become a fan of hers on Facebook.

Their tastes are not typical and cannot easily be categorized. Choice music female artist nominees? Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Ke$ha, Shakira and Taylor Swift. Wow. Now you know what’s on their iPod.

They are the opposite of you in terms of sports. The athletes they choose to admire are from skateboarding (which is not a crime, btw) surfing, tennis and soccer. What? No baseball, football? That’s un-American!

No, that’s being a teen.

I have been so busy with my new job that I haven’t been staying up on the news. And by that I don’t mean the local “if it bleeds it leads” downer or the national “you elected him, now let’s see if he can get re-elected” rhetoric. I mean the stuff that is happening around the credit union world. In small offices, with real people. Things that matter. People helping people. You know – stuff we’re supposed to care about.

I read on just now that may become a bank. I’m excited for them. Competition is good and innovation is better…this PFM model should not be overlooked.  But the article, at this point, is speculation. It was not confirmed by and says that it comes on the heels of their major competitor, folding. I had no idea. And it makes me sad.

I met  co-founder Jason Knight several years ago at BarCampBank San Francisco. He was so passionate about the Wesabe model. And everyone there was enthralled by his vision. A few months later Jason resigned from Wesabe because of personal reasons.

Co-founder Marc Hedlund took over as CEO. The website now has a personal, real,transparent, heart felt message from Marc explaining why they are closing down.

Wesabe had the balls to try. There, I said it. And they have the decency and integrity to explain why they must close. They cared about quality and security. And yet so many businesses that we deem “too big to fail” are bailed out with taxpayer money and allowed to continue – business as usual. And that business has nothing to do with caring for the customer – it’s all driven by the bottom line.

So I lift my glass to honor the pioneers at Wesabe. You will not be forgotten. We were moved by your vision and your spirit. Know that your efforts were not in vain. They challenged us and made us better people.

Marc and Jason –  we thank you.

I bought some tampons last week. I know. TMI, right? But wait. I have a point. Instead of buying my usual brand, I picked up this black box of U by Kotex tampons. Each item was wrapped in a different color paper. They were, dare I say, cute. Someone at Kotex has a sense of humor. Someone decided to have some fun. I just googled this brand and the top hit took me to this ad on YouTube. A mere 437,912 people have viewed it so far.

This is a super old brand appealing to the next generation. My poor mother had to wear the belt. Yes, a belt that held a pillow sized pad in place. Yikes. Then my generation thankfully added the adhesive tape – and the “wings.” The tampon hasn’t changed much since the Toxic Shock Syndrome scare. But the packaging can. Nice job Kotex.

Coke is a crazy old brand that is “new” again. Coke zero was added to eliminate the word “diet.” There is a slight change in the flavor because it contains half the aspartame of Diet Coke and more acesulfame potassium.  Oh, it’s true, and the youngsters love it! It’s THEIR brand. Not yours.

How about the Cube? That’s Gen Y’s Pacer. Ugly is hip – again.

Now the challenge is how to take the old tired brand of Credit Union and make it new again – one that will appeal to the next generation member. I think Young & Free has done just that. The brilliance of taking an old product – a checking account – wrapped in a package of social media tools and new ownership is unparalleled. But beyond that – what else is working?

Where’s our colored tampon wrapper? Our new recipe for sugar free soda? Our ugly car?

Tiger Woods could still beat you with a piece of bacon.”

I didn’t just say that – Brent Dixon did last week at our Annual Meeting. And you can imagine how many golfers we had in the audience – lots. There were some chuckles of recognition, some raised eyebrows and of course a few stoic reactions.

The point he was making? Just because your credit union is on Twitter or you have a Facebook page does not mean you are going to be successful in the social media space. To be good at social media, you must first be good at being social. Man that makes sense, doesn’t it?

It also explains why so many people fear social media. They don’t know what to say or area afraid to join in the conversation. You know what? That’s okay. You probably shouldn’t be the one spearheading your credit union’s efforts. So who should?

Marketing seems to be a natural because, well, we better be good at promoting, right?

Not necessarily. I’ve met a ton of marketers that are good at producing static material (think direct mail pieces, brochures, newspaper ads) that aren’t social at all. They are the advertising equivalent of a wall flower.  A pretty one, but not one that wants to dance or make eye contact. Awkward.

Here are the tests a social media candidate would have to pass, in my opinion:

1. Put them in the elevator with a stranger. They must try to bond with this person – over the weather, the Muzac, something before arriving at their floor.

2. Look at their cell phone. If they have not customized the picture on the front – gong. Next please.

3. Must have one or more of the following:

a. tattoo.

b. piercing (not necessarily still in use, but they did it)

c. facial hair (for men – LOL) or colored hair (man or woman)

4. Tried out for dance team, student government, cheerleading, sports, etc. in school. Preferably didn’t make it.

5. Make them go to a nice restaurant for dinner – alone. Will they sit at the bar and engage, or bring a book and get a table for one?

What am I missing?

I love that question, and have used it many times in the afternoon of strategic planning sessions. It’s after lunch, you can see the finish line. But before we leave we actually have to set goals. Commit to some action. Dare to dream.

In my new position at the CU Association of New Mexico I find myself in the position of having to practice what I preach. I’ll admit, it’s a bit daunting.

It’s easier to just do what’s always been done. Keep things going. Don’t rock the boat as it were. That way the chances you’ll make a mistake – or get noticed – are really slim.

But life’s too short, and since I’ve committed my life to the cause that is the credit union, I’m gonna go for it.

Next week I begin a road trip. The goal – to visit every credit union in New Mexico. I have a map, a mission and a mantra….oh, and some social media tools I’m going to sharpen.

Stay tuned.

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March 2023