Posts Tagged ‘Doug True’

World 2.0 brings us to Pokagon

April 16, 2009

What is World 2.0? And why do I use this term to explain the new environment in which we live? The web, and in particular the new engagement known as social media, has fundamentally changed the way that we, as people and organizations, exist in the world. By connecting all of us together, we have a new layer of knowledge in addition to the physical world with which we are more familiar.

EverythingCU is going to hold unique event in Indiana on Friday, May 29. This event will be a success, and would not have been possible prior to World 2.0.

Personally, I have only been to Indiana a couple of times, and it was always either passing through on I-80/90, or visiting Indianapolis. I know very little about the rest of the state except that French Lick is where Larry Bird came from, and the Kiss Fan Club’s address was in Terre Haute.

Because the economy hit the skids recently, and our credit union clients were blind-sided, errrrrr assessed a heavy burden to their operating budgets in January, we decided to postpone our flagship event, the Triple-B, slated for Portsmouth NH, by one year, to October of 2010. In the meantime, I wanted to continue to bring great experiences and education to our colleagues, and knew this presented the opportunity to put into action an idea I’ve had for a while: hold smaller-scale events for our members in locations that are convenient to them.

EverythingCU’s COO, Matt Taggart, coined the term for this one-day event: Instead of the multi-day Triple-B, this one-day event is known as the Little-B.

Choosing the right location can be quite problematic for an online company with members throughout North America. My first order of business was to poll our members to find out where people are located who are interested in attending our event. I put the query out on EverythingCU. While we got responses from all parts of the US, there was a clear mandate coming from three states: Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Since these three states border each other, my next step was to take a look at Google Maps and see what lay at the intersection of them. I immediately zeroed in on a place called Pokagon State Park, in the northeast corner of Indiana. Further googling of this area showed me that there were a couple of hotels nearby, even if the nearest major city was a 45-minute drive away in Fort Wayne. Also, using Google Maps, I could tell that this location was within driving range for many people. It’s two to three hours away from several major and minor cities: Detroit, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, Fort Wayne, Lansing, and slightly farther from Cleveland and Cincinnati. Other cities include: Dayton, Toledo, South Bend, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Gary, Saginaw, Battle Creek, and Essex, Ontario.

It’s not always easy to get a feel for a place simply by looking at a web site or three. So my next step was to get in touch with the people who live nearby, and I contacted a few EverythingCU site members in Fort Wayne. Not only did they confirm for me that was this indeed a great spot, but two told me that they have had great experiences at this park, and that the Potawatomi Inn in the park is a great hotel and conference space. Prior to speaking to our members, I had thought we’d have to hold the event at a hotel just outside the park, not realizing there was a great facility inside the park itself.

None of this would have been possible prior to World 2.0. There is no way that we could have had this direct contact with our membership to pull off an event in a place that we have never been to before. We have our agenda set, the invitations have been emailed and posted online, our members are signing up, and a great experience awaits us and our membership. A special thank you to Doug True, Chad Gramling and Nan Morrow who have spread the word to the Ignite Indiana group.

Now our challenge is to find another spot where this confluence of geography and member interest lies. I have several ideas and will be posting them inside the confines of EverythingCU.

Our agenda is set. We’ll be networking with each other (we’ll have many EverythingCU’ers who have never met each other in real life before), covering social media, sharpening our marketing skills with a presentation project, and sharing money-saving marketing techniques. If you are a credit union employee in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, or Ontario, I hope to see you at the 2009 Little-B Pokagon! If you have CU friends in the area, let them know!

Thank you, Doug True, Forum Solutions, and Trabian

October 7, 2008

Symposium 2008I had the privilege of speaking to credit union professionals last week at this year’s Partnership Symposium. This unique event was hosted by Forum Solutions and Trabian. I had heard last year’s event was quite the happening, via the CU blog/twittersphere, from such sources as Trabian’s Open Source CU. In fact, last year’s event was one of the first times I learned something valuable from someone (Brent) twittering at a conference (when Shari Storm was speaking) that I wasn’t attending in person.

My presentation was on strategies for successfully building community online. In the first part of my talk, I made the case for why online community building is a natural and important extension of a credit union’s offline community. I then presented seven strategies that I’ve found to work in creating EverythingCU.com’s online community of 6404 credit union professionals, and showed ways in which credit unions are applying those same strategies in their own online community building efforts.

I enjoyed immensely the Q&A portion of the event with moderator Ron Shevlin, and loved the questions that he asked me (as well as all of the other speakers). There is only one question that I would have answered differently had I anticipated it, and that is the question, “for which CUs is online community building NOT right for?” My off-the-cuff answer was that it’s not right for CUs who don’t care about community and run their shops just like a bank. But what I should have answered is that it all depends on their members and potential members, and what online communities currently exist for those people. If there already exists an online community for a CU’s core membership, then it makes no sense to re-invent the wheel. Instead, staff of the CU should join and participate in the existing community. But if there is currently no online community for the core membership, then there is a huge opportunity for the credit union to fill the void.

My only disappointment from the week is that the internet bandwidth was not sufficient during my presentation for it to be recorded. But I have posted the slides of it here. I am gratified that Andy LaFlamme of Maine State Credit Union live blogged my talk on the CU Loop.

StretchIt was an honor to be asked to present, and a joy to reconnect with so many CU colleagues, as well as meet so many participants in the CU blog/twittersphere in person for the first time. Extra special thanks to the gracious Forum Solutions team, including Doug, Jen, Leah, Kristi, Ashli, Cameron, and Andy for taking such good care of us during our stay, and making us all feel like rock stars. The stretch limo taking me and Tim McAlpine back to the airport was an extra nice touch. (I’m sure the limo was for keynoter Tim, and I just happened to be catching a ride at the same time.)
(Photo credit: Gene Blishen)

Prosper turns two; P2P Lending accelerating

March 17, 2008

I’m a little bit late in blogging a happy second birthday to Prosper, but hey, better late than never. It’s interesting to me that there are many (perhaps even a majority of) people in the financial world who talk about Prosper as an interesting “experiment” that may or may not work. Let me attempt to blog yet again, that Prosper IS working, and growing at a rather stunning rate, right at this very moment. (Sadly, many financial professionals are probably still not familiar with P2P Lending, two years after its U.S. launch, and three years after its British launch.)

There are many who are skeptical, and rightly so, about making unsecured loans to strangers via Prosper. But let’s look at the facts. At Prosper’s current growth rate, they will probably surpass 1,000,000 members before the end of the year, which, if it were a credit union, would make it the third largest in the United States. When Prosper celebrated its second birthday on Feb 13, this year, it had 580,000 registered members, and has done $117 million in loans. (At that membership, Prosper would already chart in at sixth on the list of largest credit unions, behind Navy FCU at 3 million members, SECU of NC at 1.4 million members, Pentagon FCU at 770,000 members, and The Golden One CU at 680,000 members, and Security Service FCU at 630,000 members, and ahead of Boeing Employees CU with 530,000 members).

Clearly, there ARE people who are embracing online P2P lending, whether it’s Prosper, Zopa, or Virgin Money.

Last month, Jim Bruene of NetBanker blogged a new development at Prosper, which aims to cut default rates through social capital, namely personal recommendations. This looks to have proven successful so far, and is a clear example of direct monetary value associated with social capital.

The idea that national credit unions could exist with a defined target market is one that Jesse Robbins indirectly voiced with his Building the Black Rock Credit Union blog, and later Tim McAlpine at Currency Marketing articulated, and Ron Shevlin and the CUSkeptic satirized. Well, in a certain sense, Propser has already brought this concept to life via its borrowing groups. Just a cursory glance at the community reveals groups for entrepreneurs, Harvard alumni, Vietnamese Americans, musicians, military veterans, artists, teachers, restaurateurs, personal financial advisors, health care professionals, and even Apple fans. (Here’s one for folks who are LGBT). In other words, just about every type of group that credit unions were created to serve, but with a much deeper and richer variety, and with a national horizon.

As a side note, in researching this post, I discovered that Javelin Research says that online P2P lending may reach $159 billion by 2012.

Props to Doug True for working with Zopa to offer NCUA-backed P2P Lending.

Congratulations Credit Unions, on a Century of Service

March 12, 2008

I have the great honor and pleasure of talking to credit union professionals all over the nation. The subject of the proud history of CUs, holds special meaning to me because I had worked with the movement for about ten years before I learned ANYTHING about its incredible history. I certainly had no idea that the movement started in my backyard, a hop skip and jump across the border, in Manchester, New Hampshire.

I gave a talk on social media and World 2.0 this morning to a group of about forty credit union marketing professionals from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire at the CU League’s headquarters in Marlborough, Mass. I asked about the movement’s founding, and it was wonderful to get a detailed answer. In our presence was a representative of that very first CU, Andrea Pruna of St. Mary’s Bank. Not only did she know the date by heart (November 24, 1908), but she let us know about a wonderful section of their web site devoted to this, the Centennial Year of Credit Union service. I encourage everyone to check out Celebrating 100 Years for a terrific look at the amazing road we’ve traveled so far.

This is one of the reasons I’m especially excited that BarCampBank NewEngland will be held in America’s Credit Union Museum on April 5. The museum is the actual house where St. Mary’s Bank first began operations 100 years ago, out of the home of Attorney Joseph Boivin, who served as the CU’s President. If you listen very carefully, you may hear the whispers of the generations that have preceeded you when you stand in the parlor of the building.

Shout-outs to so many of the fabulous credit union marketers who came today. Thanks to Jon Reske and Anne Pinkerton from UMassFive College FCU, Mark Vautour from Telephone Workers CU, Deena Bernier from NMTW Community CU, and Debra Perrin from Southern Mass CU. I’m not good with names, so I haven’t remembered those who I met for the first time, but thank you also. It was fun that we had four one-billion-dollar CUs represented as well, Greylock FCU in the Berkshires, HarborOne CU in the South Boston area, DCU of the Worcester area, and Navigant CU in RI. Thank you to Rob Kimmett for organizing a great event and inviting me, and it was wonderful to catch up with CU whirlwind Bonnie Doolin.

My presentation today included demonstrating and explaining Twitter, Facebook, blogging, and showed examples from Shari Storm and the Verity CU team, William Azaroff of Vancity CU and Change Everything, Ginny Brady, board member of UFirst FCU with the Boardcast, and Tim McAlpine of Currency Marketing with Larissa Walkiw, spokesperson for Young and Free Alberta, and her infamous Credit Union Difference video part one, currently at 16,228 views. On the topic of Facebook, I have started writing a paper on the Facebook as Marketing Engine and plan on publishing excerpts to this blog. For those interested in checking out twitter, here’s the one-page PDF of Twitter Tips.

I also touched on Peer-to-Peer Lending (P2P Lending), Prosper’s amazing growth rate, and how CUs can participate by getting in touch with Doug True, SVP of Lending, at Forum CU. Doug has been instrumental in having P2P Lending company Zopa partner with CUs to offer NCUA-insured loans and investments.


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