Top-Notch Marketers: Part V

‘Stay Curious’ and Other Keys to Marketing Success

Marketing and business development success starts with the CU’s leadership, three award-winning marketers say.

June 15, 2012

Not every marketing idea is a home run. But having permission to fail every so often creates a sense of innovation and motivation among credit union marketers and business developers, say three Diamond Award winners:

  • Anne Legg, vice president of marketing for $740 million asset Financial Partners Credit Union, Downey, Calif. (Marketing Professional of the Year);
  • John Godwin, vice president of business development/strategic alliances for $1.1 billion asset MECU of Baltimore (Business Development Professional of the Year Award); and
  • Kim Wall, community development director for $900 million asset Georgia United Credit Union in Duluth (Hall of Fame inductee).

Legg, Godwin, and Wall outline the keys to marketing and business development success and their best marketing/business development advice.

CU Mag: What are some of the keys to marketing and business development success?

Godwin: It really starts with the leadership. I'm very fortunate that our leadership at the credit union fully supports business development.

They trust what we do. They allow us to take chances, and they don't always work out. But then when they don't work out, the hammer doesn't come down on me too hard. We still consider ourselves a laboratory for the credit union.

We will try new things, and they won’t all be home runs. But we’re given the luxury of being able to fail to some extent. That creates a real sense of innovation and motivation in the department. That’s critical.

Diamond Award winners
Marketing success starts with support from CU leadership, say Diamond Award winners Anne Legg (left), John Godwin, and Kim Wall.

The other thing is we need to have the right people in the right position. As someone who has worked in both marketing and business development, I know the marketing personality is a little different than the business development personality.

I think we'd all agree that having a business development personality in a business development position is critical, just as it is to have a marketing personality in a marketing position.

Wall: I do have to give kudos to executive management because change is the only constant here, as I’m sure it is with your credit unions. We have to constantly adapt to the marketplace. But when you have great people in the right position, it makes all the difference in the world.

And when you couple that with executive management support, it’s win-win for everybody.

We all love our jobs and the credit union. But not everybody has that passion. We need to find people who fit and who have the heart and the passion.

Legg: Part of my mantra when I was chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council was making sure leadership recognized the contributions of marketing and business development.

What’s really helping take our industry to the next level is having marketers in key executive roles.

NEXT: What's the best marketing advice you'd offer colleagues?

CU Mag: What’s the best marketing/business development advice you’d offer colleagues?

Legg: Stay curious. Constantly look at what other credit unions and other industries are doing. And don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions—they already think we’re weirdos anyway.

I love when you walk into a meeting and say, “Explain to me why.” The whole room gets quiet. So again, be comfortable being uncomfortable. You need to stand your ground and say, “I need to understand why you don’t think this will work. Please explain it to me.”

CU Mag: What piques your curiosity now, Anne?

Legg: I’m really curious about how we're going to embrace the digital wallet because I want us to be able to say banking at the credit union is as easy as using the phone in  your hand. That’s going to be a beautiful spot for us.

So I want to know how we get away from being confined to 9 to 5, or whatever your branch hours are. There’s a whole world out there that's interacting with us and the rest of the world with their device. So how can we be part of all that?

Godwin: I’ll go back to my philosophy of having fun and getting it done—building a culture where it’s a priority to get things done, but where we try to minimize stress and rejoice in our successes.

This this award, for example, is something we all know is as much about the people around you as it is about you. There's no way this happens without the support that I get from our executive team and certainly not without our business development team. They’re the ones who help me develop our plans and make them happen.

Subscribe to Credit Union MagazineWall: Despite our never-ending deadlines and projects, remember to have fun and build relationships along the way. Life is too short not to enjoy what you do and to not be kind to others.

CU Mag: What’s one thing your colleagues might not know about you?

Wall: I enjoy volunteering with my spouse of 30 years on mission trips that involve physical labor, like shingling a house or doing demo work or painting. I have to say, hammering is a great stress reliever—and serving others can be life-changing.

I'll never forget taking my daughter on a mission trip to Puerto Rico when she was a senior in high school and how her eyes were opened to all the needs around us. I don't think she ever said “I want” again.

It’s important to realize we’re part of a bigger picture, and we’re all here to help each other along the journey.

Legg: For the last seven years I’ve been a resident storyteller at my library. I did the numbers on it, and I found that I’ve read to more than 3,000 kids. Every Tuesday.

I actually started that as a project with my daughter because I am a huge reader, and she now reads two years ahead of her age group.

I want to show my daughter how important it is to give back.

Godwin: I don’t like this question…. But I’m a published poet. I write poetry pretty regularly. I was an English major, so I haven’t been able to shake that since college.

Also, I like political philosophy. But I’ll stick with poet. That’s a little more colorful.