Sacred Cows and Piggy Banks

Today’s blog comes courtesy of Shari Storm, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Verity Federal Credit Union. Shari is the author of the new book ‘Motherhood is the New MBA”, available here:

If your job is anything like mine (marketing person for a mid-sized credit union), you are probably thinking the same thing I am – 2010 is turning out to be a lot like 2009 – full of uncertainty.

Is the economy turning? Are we going to double dip? Will delinquencies drop? Will lending ever get back to normal? What the heck are rates going to do?

The ONLY certainty for this year is that we marketers are being asked to do more with less.

In light of that, I’d like to share with you three ways we are saving marketing money in 2010.

They aren’t easy. We’ve stopped doing some things that we have been doing since the beginning of time. Sacred cows, I believe they are called. But getting rid of them has helped put a good chunk of change in my marketing piggy bank. (OK, enough of the barnyard animal word plays.)

1. Annual Reports: We aren’t printing annual reports this year.  Instead, we’ll design it, post it online and print enough to hand out at our annual meeting. If a member asks for one, we will print it for them.

Savings: $5,000 / year

2. Yellow Book Advertising: We’ve stopped completely. Instead, we’ve made sure our contact information is correct on Yelp and other such websites.

Savings: $12,000 / year

3. Newsletters: We stopped designing and printing newsletters. Instead, we focus our attention on our employee run blog. http://blog.veritycu.com

Savings: $18,000 / year

We knew these changes would save us a considerable amount of money, but we were happy to discover that there were additional benefits we weren’t expecting.

1. Conservation of Time: We hadn’t really realized how much time we were spending putting together the newsletter and sending it to print. It sounds like a simple task, but wrangling content from already busy contributors and formatting files for the printers does take time. We also eliminated the time we were spending on working with yellow page reps, proofing ads, executing contracts, etc.

2. Conservation of Resources: As soon as we made the decision to stop advertising in yellow pages, we started seeing blogs and other social sites complaining about Washington State’s practice of giving each resident at least two phone books. There is a large movement in our state to outlaw this system. We feel good about doing our part in minimizing the environmental impact yellow pages have on our environment. We’ve mentioned in a few places that Washington yellow pages have one less ad due to us.

3. Increased Job Satisfaction:  We’ve concluded that our new efforts are more enjoyable than our former task. We like monitoring Yelp better than we like figuring out what to put in a yellow page ad. We like writing for the blog more than we like printing a newsletter. The work is more fun and that’s ALWAYS a good thing.

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10 thoughts on “Sacred Cows and Piggy Banks

  1. Right on. I’m meeting with our Yellow Pages rep soon and I’m glad to hear your opinion is the same as mine. The phone book is such a waste in my opinion. And advertising next to a Cash for Gold ad is not enticing me either.

  2. What has member reaction been to the changes? Do your older members feel connected to the blog the way they did to the newsletter?

  3. Pingback: CU Water Cooler » Blog Archive » CU Water Cooler 3/30

  4. Shari,

    What a great post. Thanks for sharing the cold hard facts about how marketing is and has to change. And you’re right about Sacred Cows – they make the tastiest burgers!

  5. Jennifer – we have a few members who were not happy about the newsletter going away, but not as many as you might think. We have a membership base of 26k and I think we got three to five complaints. One member, Lavinia, who we all love dearly and has been a member for decades, now gets a phone call from her branch manager each month, telling her about the specials and anything else going on.

  6. Shari – love that effort to keep Lavinia informed. I’m willing to bet that the monthly phone call will have a far greater impact on her relationship with your CU than the newsletter ever could. Sounds like a great practice for EVERY branch manager to do monthly with their top 10, 20, etc. members/clients. There have been a number of discussions about whether or not service is a differentiator. THAT level of service is definitely a differentiator!

  7. I love to see the efficiency you are using. Embracing digital is not always easy to do for businesses, especially financial ones, love to see more and more CU’s doing it. Also, the environmental impact of just ONE credit union doing this is huge, imagine if all did this?!

  8. Excellent points Shari, I suppose as a marketer the main takeaway is to be empowered (or position yourself to be empowered) to help make decisions that will add to the bottom line. I’ve read/listened to a lot of great tips on that in the last couple of weeks.

    May be a good time to maximize/leverage other marketing opportunities as well such as…

    -Get a company wrapped vehicle instead of reimbursing gas mileage for traveling employees (ROI on a moving billboard is really great from our experience)

    -Bring more value to sponsorship opportunities by brainstorming low cost/high reward opportunities that aren’t necessarily in the agreement (ex. volunteering to pass out event shirts, having a booth at the festival/golf tourney/whatever, etc.)

    -Use micro sites (or your corporate site) to generate warm leads for auto loan promos/member drives, etc. by doing giveaways or other incentives (very effective!!)

    Many countless opportunities for us to bring more value and as you said ‘do more w/ less’.

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