Elry Armaza

‘Marketing is the glue’

New Canvas Credit Union marketer harnesses the power of research.

August 18, 2021

Elry Armaza recently joined $3.4 billion Canvas Credit Union, Englewood, Colo., as vice president of marketing after six years at Filene Research Institute, where he focused on research, insights, and action. 

In his new role, Armaza will create value for Canvas by bringing his research to life and deepening relationships with members.

Credit Union Magazine: How will your previous experience prepare you for your new role?

Elry Armaza: Leading a marketing strategy is essentially bridging the identified needs of your community with solutions designed by the organization. In that sense, a research background allows me to discover the root causes of these needs and design and experiment with market solutions. 

On top of that, to successfully connect needs and offerings, setting projects with measurable outcomes is critical to both research experiments and marketing campaigns.

Q: What drew you to marketing?

A: There’s something attractive about managing the different stages of the brand equity funnel:

  • The elements of storytelling and connection with prospects that are becoming familiar with the organization.
  • The digital experience requirements to turn those individuals providing us with the gift of consideration into active members. 
  • The continued efforts in building brand loyalty among existing members.

These are all unique challenges that require different tools working in unison and coordination among various departments at the credit union. Marketing is truly the glue that keeps the community's perception healthy, which is essential to continued growth.

Q: What questions do you have for your members?

A: Understanding how our members currently perceive us is the most accurate form to measure our success. Are we perceived as being helpful? Friendly? Transparent? Easy to understand. That’s what we at Canvas we call “B.S.-free” and “bank slang-free.”

Moreover, if the opportunity arises in the future for additional financial services, what would they think of us? 

If we had a magic wand to observe what members are thinking, I would want to know:

  • What helped you decide Canvas was a good fit?
  • How easy is it to get the information you need when interacting with Canvas?
  • How would you rate Canvas' technology compared to the other financial institutions you do business with?
  • When applying for a new product, do you prefer to do so online, in-branch (if available), or over the phone? Why? How can we improve any of these application methods?
  •  What is getting in the way of elevating your financial well-being?
‘In a matter of weeks, organizations conducted a two-year tech revamp plan that has transformed how we communicate internally and engage with members directly.’
Elry Armaza

Q: How has marketing changed during the pandemic and with social upheaval?

A: The low-hanging-fruit answer observes the shifts in traditional media-buying advertising compared to the now much larger digital media strategy. 

In a matter of weeks, organizations conducted a two-year tech revamp plan that has transformed how we communicate internally and engage with members directly. There is no turning back in time. The post-pandemic world will be very different from the 2019 days.

As it relates to social causes, brands paid attention to the world changing around us and shifted to highlight a stand for social issues important to their employees and the clients/members they serve. 

For Canvas, as for most credit unions, stepping up to the occasion required less self-reflection because we live and breathe social commitment to our communities already. 

The opportunity lies in how to tell these stories and elevate the partnerships we have been supporting for years. But not many of our constituents are aware of the work we conduct on their behalf.

The Canvas Foundation supports our local Children's Hospital, first responders, and veterans across Colorado. As a direct result of the environment in 2020, we will continue enhancing the reach and commitment to our foundation's efforts. This crisis has strengthened our commitment to all Coloradans.

Q: What are Canvas' marketing priorities?

A: Representing the voice of our members accurately within our departments. 

We have been working on different ways to capture, analyze, and act on their feedback. It is a never-ending journey that we continue working on.

We are also in the middle of a Live Well(er) campaign centered around Coloradans' overall well-being (i.e., physical and mental health, social ties, and financial well-being). 

These elements are interconnected. If one is stressed, not sleeping enough, and lacking a strong support circle, it is hard to concentrate and perform at work, impacting your financial well-being.

CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council

Q: What’s the greatest challenge credit union marketers face today?

A: The world is changing so fast. The greatest challenge is to keep up with consumer preference changes and behaviors, and the way media is consumed. 

There is a sense that during the pandemic, we fast-forward the existing socio-economic trends we expected to see in three years. The post-pandemic environment could result in a whiplash effect for credit unions if we are not intentional about our planning.

Q: How does financial wellness connect with your marketing messages?

A: Financial wellness follows a similar path to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Having one's financials in check allows investments in shelter, food, rest, safety, and security. 

But financial wellness goes beyond current basic needs; it involves planning for emergencies and the future. It also includes having enough resources to enjoy life today.

We play a significant role in influencing our members' well-being. We can support members in saving more, spending mindfully, and investing in their well-being. 

We are committed to taking care of Coloradan's banking so they can “Go Live.”