Posts Tagged ‘Indiana’

Member Profile: Bobbie Garner

February 22, 2011

Unlike retail businesses, at an online business like EverythingCU.com, we don’t get regular in-person interaction with our customers. Which is one of the reasons I love speaking to CU leagues and conducting hands-on social media workshops for them. And it’s also the reason why I particularly loved the phone call I had today with EverythingCU’er Bobbie Garner.

Recently I got to meet Bobbie in person at the CU Water Cooler Symposium in Indianapolis at the end of October. Bobbie had just attended the first-ever EverythingCU Webinar Roundtable, so it was pretty cool to meet her in-person just two days later. At the Symposium, Bobbie told me that her credit union was really liking their new Beehive online budget tracking tool from EverythingCU.

Recently, I got to chat with Bobbie a little bit more, to find out how Beehive was working for her. She told me that she was excited to be using it for her 2011 budget, and that the credit union had looked at other options, but none was as easy-to-use and inexpensive as Beehive. It turns out that Bobbie works part-time for the credit union; and the marketing budget is coordinated between four people; herself, their full time Community Relations Specialist who is a recent college grad, and two other executives at Health Care Professionals FCU.

In the course of the conversation, Bobbie also told me that the budget that she has to work with at Health Care Professionals FCU is much more than her budget last year, thanks to EverythingCU’s Marketing Budget Report. She said that by using the “Export to Excel” function of several report pages, and turning them into graphs, it was clear that her credit union’s marketing budget was well below comparable credit unions. The CU Marketing Budget Report is also extremely inexpensive, and we keep it that way on purpose, both for selfish and altruistic reasons. We hope hundreds more credit unions take advantage of it; selfishly, because if CUs use it to get their budgets increased, we hope they spend some of those ‘extra’ dollars on us, but also altruistically in that we truly love to further the credit union movement, and increasing marketing budgets will spread the good CU word even farther.

Bobbie also mentioned that the EverythingCU site is a wonderful resource in its own right, and how she reminds the credit union’s Specialist to always check the Document Center before creating a new document from scratch since there are more than 1400 documents in that library!

Basically, we wish we could plant a tree to grow more clients like Bobbie and HCP FCU… they are big fans of EverythingCU (and we’re big fans of theirs), and they use many of our products: the Executive Membership, webinars, the EverythingCU CU Marketing Budget Report, and most recently our Beehive Online Budget Tracking tool. We’re thrilled that they are getting great value from being a part of this online community!

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)

Robbie Wright; Fi-linx

October 3, 2008

Robbie Wright, Manager of Fi-Linx, a CUSO created by MaPS CU in Oregon, gave a talk on CUSOs at Forum Solutions/Trabian’s Partnership Symposium yesterday.

Deposit Reclassification: Came out of a need that MaPS CU had to reduce reserve requirement with the Fed.

CUSOs are going multi-owned route to gain economies of scale.

Non-traditional CUSOs are being created to help differentiate credit unions.

Ongoing Operations CUSO created for Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery based on 9/11 disaster.

Future CUSO ideas:
• REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust). CU sells its real estate into the REIT, gains a profit, and members can invest in it.

• Geek Squad: A take-home nerd for members.

• Online Safe Deposit Box: Secure and keep private your digital data, with the trust of the credit union.

William Azaroff is Changing Everything

October 2, 2008

CU SymposiumLive blogging of William’s talk to the Partnership Symposium in Indianapolis.

[Brent Dixon recorded this session on video here.]

In Canada, we do things a little bit differently.

33% of Canadians view the environment and global warming as the most important issues affecting the world today.

Vancity members represent 5% of discretionary spending in BC.

Vancity has a role to play in the social economy, and has a chance to influence.

Approx. 30% of not-for profits in their region bank with Vancity CU. (We have opportunity to do more with this.)

Dark green consumer segment – 16% of their member base

Dark green is a psychographic segment. William feels there is opportunity that 30-40% dark green members make up Vancity.

Vancity used to do generic advertising and branding. Rebranded effort shows their personality/values, uses humor.

Billboard with solar panels – dark green consumers get it.

High interest savings account – part of it funds a scholarship that gives 200% to very low income people. Message to world – the account that helps fight poverty.

Magnet Marketing – put a stake in the ground with who they are. If you’re not comfortable with that, you are welcome to leave.

Change Everything – online community to engender change, personal and social, in Vancouver and BC

Has become a resource for people who want to live more sustainably.

Message: no reason why a car loan can’t change more than just your car

Snow storm hit Vancouver in Nov 2006: People organized to help the homeless through the Change Everything blog. Press loved it; big earned media. Heartfelt testimonials poured in.

Bike share program: Take it, ride it, pass it on. People kept honest via online community. Front page of Vancouver Sun (which you can not buy.) Huge PR event.

Results: 125 people per day; 1200 visits per day
Registrations: 162% increase
media value: $50k+ (which is half of the original cost of program)

bike share:
registrations: 7/day; 95 day
media value: $175k+
ROI: 300%
bikes returned (and donated) 28 out of 45

Vancity CU: 2nd most trusted business operating in Vancouver.

Number one trusted financial institution.

Q&A with Ron:
What are internal discussions like? marketing? senior management?
A: Willingness to try new things. There isn’t always time to try new things. How do we balance trying new things vs. doing what works.

At senior management, no one is questioning this brand positioning, have been through that. Crystalizing what they can do, and be strategic focused, biggest impact. Debates about where is the focus, how to focus. Prioritization, being disciplined.

Q: Top priorities for next 12-18 months?
A: 1.) Internal- intranet development. Get info to the employees when they need it. 2) Online banking development to catch up and also lead. 3.) Other opportunities in social media to help business; help members connect to staff and other members

Q: do you manage and create a social media strategy?
A: Board just had a retreat in rundown area (not fancy place)- went straight to heart of what ails Vancouver. They are coming out with: What is Vancity in 10 years? Line up social media strategy with organization goals. So that William’s group is not isolated.

Social media strategy comes from organizational strategy.

Q: Now values are coming into Vancity’s product. How does social media strategy fit?
A: Differentiation. Product starts with being competitive. How do we make it our own? But then social aspect fits in addition. Likelihood to try measure is very very high. Members get to say where the charitable part goes to.

Q: Measure customer engagement?
A: Need to get better here. Newly formed group from several different departments. Critical to work on this. We know how to measure traditional marketing. Need to work on definition to get on same page.

Q: from audience: attaching to existing social initiatives in community?
A: Vancity was already partners with them, but just didn’t know it. Couldn’t have done BikeShare if not partnered with 4 local orgs that dovetailed. Partner with lots of folks now.

Q: from Ginny: Vancity has a vision. If members don’t share it, too bad for them. What about employees and board members in regards to this? Hiring/recruiting process?
A: Board members: definitely. 22 people ran for 9 slots. Because org is really making change, people want to be a part of that. Members really want Vancity to do even more for environment and poverty. Employees: looking for those whose values resonate with Vancity. HR understands our values.

Q: (From Jeff Stephens) Did Ron really invent the term Magnet Marketing?
A: Yes, he was referring to refrigerator magnets.

Q: If you went to another CU? How/where would you start?
A: Won’t go anywhere else. He realizes that at Vancity, he has become a values snob. He would have a tough time working somewhere where values weren’t the driver of the organization. There must be commitment from the top, that William could help bring it to life, in a way that is measured in his performance plan. Has to come from the top down, starts with CEO and board, and be organization wide.

Upcoming conferences

March 11, 2008

I have news that is disappointing to gnomes throughout CU-land: EverythingCU will not be holding a Triple-B in 2008. It’s not that we don’t want to; I personally can’t wait to continue what we started in 2005 in Portland and continued in 2006 in Baltimore. But as you can imagine, putting on a top-notch event of the quality and innovation that our gnomes have come to expect from us is a rather large undertaking. Not to mention that because most CU budgets are set near the end of the year, we really need to announce an event no later than November a year in advance in order to insure the best chances of a good turnout. It has also been a huge compliment to us that other CU organizations have copied some elements of the Triple-B in putting on their conferences. But needless to say, we are working on the next innovation in event experience and will deliver something even more outstanding and relevant than our competitors.

So let me recommend some conference alternatives this year, all of which I will be at except the CMBDC conference.

Massachusetts CU League Marketer’s Networking Roundtable tomorrow, March 12 – Marlborough, MA.

CUNA Marketing & Biz Dev Council Conference – March 16-19, Nashville

BarCampBank SF – March 29 – UC Berkeley’s Wozniak Lounge in Soda Hall, Berkeley, CA

BarCampBank NewEngland – April 5 at America’s Credit Union Museum in Manchester, NH – The EverythingCU.com crew is planning a spectacular ending to the day.

BarCampMoney NYC – April 12 – Midtown Manhattan, 40th floor – We should have a spectacular view to go along with the spectacular conversation.

CUES Experience – May 13 – 16 – Minneapolis – I’ll be leading the PixelFarms Interactive tour, and look forward to seeing both William Azaroff and Ron Shevlin present.

MAC Conference – May 21-23 – Newport Beach CA – EverythingCU.com will have a booth at this one.

Georgia CU Marketing Conference – June 6 – Lake Lanier Islands, GA – I’ll be conducting a World 2.0 and PR workshop.

BarCampBank Dallas – TBD in June

Forum’s Partnership Symposium – October 1-2 – I look forward to being Shevlinated at that one. I hear it doesn’t hurt too much.

On the drawing board: BarCampBank Charlotte for the second half of 2008.

For those interested in learning more about social media, I recommend you also watch for any PodCamps or Facebook Developer Garages happening near you.


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