DATA ANALYSIS isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
But Cathy Graham gets up in the morning eager to crunch numbers and read charts.
As the vice president of marketing at Desert Schools Federal Credit Union in Phoenix, Graham studies data to create marketing plans, develop branding, understand member needs, and more.
“People think that design and writing are the most creative aspects of marketing,” Graham says. “I think analyzing data to identify correlations and meaningful insights is every bit as creative as other aspects of marketing.”
Graham initially worked as a creative who specialized in promotional materials and ads. When her credit union purchased a marketing customer information file (MCIF) database system, she volunteered to learn how to use it.
“I worked as a research analyst for five years,” she says. “This was a real turning point in my career because I was able to tap into both the right brain and the left brain to develop marketing plans and strategies that were stronger and more effective.”
Graham believes that data is integral to the success of a credit union. “The key to taking numbers and turning them into opportunities is to start with an understanding of the business, then really take the time to study data within that context, identifying areas where the research sheds light on something that was previously not understood.”
When it comes to developing brand identity, Graham has some words of wisdom.
“Start with focus groups. Even if you don’t have the ability to do formal focus groups, just invite members and employees to sit down with the marketing team to talk about their thoughts and perceptions of the organization,” she says. “Once you have critical insight, you can make sure that all marketing pieces convey the values and the personality of the credit union.”
Graham also executed Desert Schools’ 75th Anniversary marketing campaign called “Shine On.” The innovative year-long campaign pledged to give $1 million back to the community through various charitable efforts, while directly engaging the public through online voting efforts and driving awareness of six local charities.
Graham spends time with her teenage daughter and her pet pug. And she’s an “avid reader of both fiction and nonfiction.”