It’s the ever-changing, trial-and-error nature of marketing—and the way it constantly surprises him—that Toby Hayes loves.
This past year, Hayes, vice president of marketing at SAFE Federal Credit Union in Sumter, S.C., was surprised to learn which messages resonated with the credit union’s fans when he created a local Super Bowl television ad.
To generate a bigger buzz, he held a contest inviting fans to vote on a pool of potential ads.
The contest generated almost 3,000 views, and the most popular ad with members—which emphasized the $1 billion asset credit union’s work in the community—was the one Hayes least expected to prevail. But he turned the whole process into a learning experience.
“Things are constantly changing, especially in financial services,” Hayes says. “It’s about adapting to the changing environment. Sometimes our best guess isn’t even close. That has shaped our message going forward.”
Hayes has won design awards—including five CUNA Diamond Awards—at four credit unions since his first honor in 2010, which recognized a debit card redesign.
After the Heartland Payment Systems security breach, Hayes’ credit union was forced to reissue all of its debit cards.
“I was able to develop a focus group of teenagers, design six cards, put them in front of the groups, and get the card art approved by Visa—all within 48 hours,” he says.
But Hayes knows building a brand means more than just designing a pretty card.
“It’s about providing the kind of service, face-to-face and electronically, that allows people to want to do business with you,” Hayes says. “We have to make it convenient and intuitive.”
Away from the credit union, Hayes enjoys camping and hiking with his wife and six kids. He also enjoys running, and has completed both a half and full marathon.
Hayes—who recently completed a comprehensive auto loan campaign that generated nearly $80 million in loans—is proud to build on a tradition of excellence at SAFE, which in 2015 produced South Carolina’s most recent Credit Union Rock Star, executive vice president Michael Baker.
“We must be doing something right,” Hayes says.