Trudi Mullins, vide president of communications and team development at Singing River FCU in Moss Point, Miss., advises solo marketers to set their sights on changing current and prospective members’ behaviors rather than trying to make products exciting. Says Mullins: "No one wakes up on a Saturday morning and thinks ‘I can’t wait to open a checking account.’”
Does any credit union marketer have enough hours in the day or dollars in the marketing budget? Probably not.
Special challenges arise, however, when the marketing department consists of you—and only you.
Trudi Mullins can relate. She has been a solo marketer at $195 million asset Singing River Federal Credit Union, Moss Point, Miss., for five years.
Working solo can cause people to “get in a bubble and have blinders on,” says Mullins, vice president of communications and team development. To keep the bubble and blinders at bay, she likes to “pace the halls,” hanging out with tellers, member service representatives—anyone who has direct contact with members.
“I listen to the requests they get from members,” she says. “That’s where I get some of my best ideas.”
Mullins and other marketers share how they get the most out of their limited resources.
1. Focus on strategy
One pitfall for solo marketers is getting bogged down in the abundance of tasks clamoring for attention each day.
The upshot is that “you can become very tactical,” says Mark Arnold, president of On the Mark Strategies, a credit union marketing consulting firm.
To counter that tendency, Arnold advises carving out time for strategic thinking, and pondering the question, “What am I trying to accomplish?”
“You can’t just put on those track shoes and race every single day,” says Arnold, a former credit union marketer. “You’ll be running a marathon as a sprinter, which means you’ll collapse at the halfway point. Take time to read and to think about strategy.”
2. Set priorities
Each day has only so many hours. As a one-person department, you must allocate your time to your credit union’s various marketing needs.
Decide on your priorities by “having a serious heart-to-heart talk with your CEO,” Arnold says.
Discuss how many hours a week you should devote to design work, planning, product development, community outreach, and other responsibilities.
“Then if you see you can’t do all the design work because you’re expected to spend 50% of your time out in the community, you’ll need to budget more to outsource” some marketing functions, he says.
3. Watch where your time goes
A useful first step in time management is to log how you use your workdays. For a month or so, record how many hours a week go toward writing ad copy, planning promotions, attending community meetings, and so on. The results can be enlightening.
“You’ll see the areas where you’re spending more time than you should,” Arnold says.
Even a time-management master can’t do everything.
“You also have to be a master at saying ‘no,’ ” Arnold says. “Just as your credit union, from a brand perspective, can’t be all things to all people, you as a marketer can’t be all things to your credit union.”