I was worried about the idea of participating in a competition like Next Top Credit Union Exec. I studied all of the outstanding competitors from last year, even the ones that weren’t finalists. When I saw the powerhouse credit unions that many of them hailed from and the pedigrees they had, I questioned whether I should even be considering it. We have some seriously sharp minds in credit union land, especially in the next generation of managers, and the common thread among all of us is an absolute passion for the ideals that mark our cooperatives. Big or small, we’re making some monumental achievements in a time when our trend-lines should be headed in the other direction.
As intimidated as I was, I was moved to action because I see the same need for sustainability in credit union leadership that CUES has identified. I’m still amazed by the transformation that a credit union has had in my life. Prior to starting at Leaders in May 2010, I had no knowledge of the benefit provided by a credit union or the storied heritage that we celebrated worldwide just a week ago. Before long though, I found myself championing the cause and evangelizing my friends and family. Not only was marketing a credit union as natural as riding a bike, but it felt like home. Conferences and league chapter meetings felt like family. No threat of competition, no holding cards close to the chest.
Our movement is really powerful stuff!
So what could I bring to the table? The common thread among all meetings and forum discussions that I participated in was the shortfall between expense in positioning a financial institution well and the money allocated to get the job done. However, when I dug deeper, I noticed that many of the expenses involved were due to inefficiencies. This wasn’t just a problem at my credit union; it was an epidemic! My fear for our movement is that we will revolutionize every aspect of the way we do business, and overlook one of the most pivotal components: our marketing.
I said it at the beginning of this competition and I believe it more now than ever—marketing is not and should never be considered a budgetary vacuum. When done right, marketing drives sustainability by taking all of the other rockstar components of your credit union and moving them to the top of your member’s (or potential member’s) mind. Not only that, but when we do it right, marketing is no longer viewed as a lag on the balance sheet, but rather a very small top number in an ROI calculation. It becomes that small number when we develop a plan and stick to it, when we leverage our brand and our human capital, and when we create fresh, dynamic content that resonates with our members.
I’ve seen the impact a credit union relationship can have in my own life, the lives of family and friends, and the part that it plays in revolutionizing the banking industry. I have a passion for seeing this powerful movement sustained and grown for as long as I can contribute toward it. I’m thankful for the opportunity to help lead a new generation of executives no less passionate than I am in this effort as we carry on a proud tradition.