LIVE YOUR BRAND. Make data actionable. Focus on select employee group (SEG) relationships before sales.
These insights come from the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council’s top individual Diamond Award winners for 2014:
CU Mag: What’s your guiding marketing/ business development philosophy?
Mashburn: Trying to fully understand my objectives without losing sight of the details. I’m a details junkie—I want to make sure every little thing is perfect all the way through. I’m really into Base Camp, an online project management site. It helps us make sure nothing slips through the cracks, and that every single detail goes back to the bigger objective. It’s easy to lose sight of the details when you have multiple people working on projects.
McGraw: My guiding philosophy is to know and live your brand. It should be at the core of everything you do. Everything we do at Tropical Financial must follow our two core guiding principles: value and advocacy. So when I do brand training for new employees, I always tell them if they’re doing something that doesn’t provide value to the member, or there’s a product that doesn’t provide value, then let’s re-evaluate to see if there’s something we can do differently. Everything we do must fulfill our brand promise to our members.
Allison: Our business development philosophy is to share solutions. We have found that the greatest way to build community advocates is to meet their needs. We’ve done this through speaking with SEGs’ human resource professionals about the vast amount of financial stress faced by their respective employees.
CU Mag: What’s your biggest marketing/ business development challenge? Mashburn: Making data actionable. We’re about to go through a core conversion so hopefully this will become easier. Goodness knows we have more data about our members than most places have about their customers.
Mashburn: We need to have the proper systems in place and everyone on board and collecting and pooling that information. Getting that train running in the right direction has been difficult.
McGraw: Extreme competition. Every big bank in the country is in this market, and there are all kinds of community banks and credit unions that compete with each other. Related to this is that we’re in such an expensive media market. A lot of people face the challenge of smaller budgets and fewer resources. But being in a market as expensive as Miami, you have to be very creative in how to use your marketing dollars. I use digital media way more than traditional media now. It’s less expensive and more effective in terms of targeting members. Plus, I can personalize my messages for different demographic groups, and digital media is trackable to a certain point.
Allison: Gaining access to SEG employees. More and more we are finding it difficult to promote and partner with large organizations and gain access to their employees for membership recruitment and retention opportunities. They’re reluctant to endorse a single outside vendor.
CU Mag: What advice would you offer your colleagues?
McGraw: Know your audience and personalize your messages to your audience. Don’t imitate what others are doing because you’ll just get lost in the crowd—and it won’t work if you try to be something you’re not. Also, know yourself and why you’re working in this industry. You should be passionate about it. If you love what you do and you’re passionate about it, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. If you don’t feel that way, then maybe this isn’t for you—and you should move on.
Mashburn: Make sure people within your credit union don’t just see what you do but understand why you do it, especially management and the board. We have a lot of parties, for example, for the leaders of a local university. On the surface they might look pretty pointless. But we’re gaining access to the hearts and minds of the most influential people on campus, and getting them jazzed about the credit union. The board and management need to understand and trust your overall strategy. As long as it’s aligned with the credit union’s overall strategy, it’s hard to argue with.
Allison: Business development professionals should ask, “How can we be relevant to our community business partners,” not “how can we sell to them and their employees?” Focus on building relevant relationships with community business partners and on meeting unmet employee and employer needs. Financial stress, for example, is one of the top five workplace stressors, and few organizations are more equipped to educate and advocate on behalf of employers than credit unions. Once you build trust with employers, you can promote your products and services to their employees.
CU Mag: What’s one thing your colleagues might not know about you?
Allison: I’m an avid basketball player and have played in the largest three-on-three basketball tournament in the world for the past five years.
Mashburn: I’m expecting! Looks like we’ll have another credit union member to add to our team. I’m expecting in March.
McGraw: We have a champion disc dog—a Frisbee catcher—and I’ve competed with her. She actually holds her breath underwater. She loves to swim, so if you put the Frisbee underneath the water she’ll hold her breath and blow bubbles. She’s a unique dog.