Is your marketing and business development boring? Are you not getting the results for which you are hoping? Many credit unions get into so-called “ruts” when it comes to their marketing, advertising, promotion, and business development. Their creativity is stifled – it’s kind of like writer’s block for the marketing and business development disciplines.
The good news is that there is hope! Sometimes, success can be found when you approach things with a new perspective, a new look and feel, or simply by changing your attitude.
I’d like everyone to meet Jeff Papas of Northern Communities Credit Union. I recently had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Jeff about his approach to marketing. A little background – it was Jeff’s job title that initially caught my attention. It was fresh, novel, and blunt. Jeff is the Minister of Fun at his credit union. So I contacted him to learn more about where that came from. What I learned was so much more than the origin of his title.
Jeff started at the credit union in 2009. He was brought in to reinvent and reinvigorate the marketing and business development functions which, before his arrival, had hit more than their share of snags.
Jeff said, “The credit union’s CEO, Larry Champeaux, has a marketing background so he understands the importance of having a great marketing platform. I am lucky to have a CEO that gets it. I was basically told that I had free rein to do what I thought was necessary to improve things.”
Jeff focused on what the credit union’s members thought – he and his team conducted surveys and focus groups and received valuable input. The result was a completely “member-centric” marketing and branding campaign. In short, Jeff wanted to rebrand Northern Communities in a way that reflected why the credit union was so important in the lives of its members.
But there was still something missing…the positioning statement that tied everything together. Then, like many marketing and business development professionals (myself included,) it hit him….in the middle of the night as he lay in his bed. “We Are NCCYou” would be the new tagline. Today, everything about the credit union revolves around the fact that the member owns everything. So it’s YOUR savings account, YOUR checking account, etc.
“In the process of doing all of the legwork for the new branding campaign, we found out that marketing can actually be fun. We had a blast during the project,” Jeff recalled. Hence, the new title, Minister of Fun.
Jeff didn’t stop there. He realized that marketing can only be truly effective when everyone on the credit union team is interested and enthusiastic. So he unlocked the marketing shared drives to grant access to every employee at the credit union. As a result, the employees are more in touch with what is happening and have also begun to provide suggestions for campaigns, promotions, etc.
Jeff said, “Marketing that is fun and participatory is more effective. The employees feel like they are part of the process.”
The tactics are working. Northern Communities has enjoyed 15 straight months of profit! In Jeff’s words, “the tide has definitely turned!” The members are more excited, the employees are more excited, and things are moving forward at a furious pace.
And one more thing – Jeff happens to be the play-by-play commentator for the reigning NCAA Division II football champs from the University of Minnesota-Duluth. So a lot of the credit union’s members and potential members get to hear his voice every week, at least during football season!
I want to thank Jeff for sharing his story. Credit unions (and this writer) can learn a lot from people like Jeff Papas. And, Jeff…it’s not just your CEO that “gets it.” You do too….in a big way!