Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

Credit Union acronyms still harsh my mellow

October 21, 2009

I was saddened to learn that Randolph Brooks FCU, a very large credit union in San Antonio, now calls itself RBFCU. Yet another excellent and distinctive credit union name falls by the wayside into a vast sea of sameness. This is the opposite of the differentiation and distinction goals that good business practice calls for.

Based on a previous blog post:

Social Media Marketing Best Practice: Bridge the gap

September 10, 2008

For those of us who have been involved in the online world for more than a few years, the latest incarnation of the web is pretty exciting stuff. The connections and interactions via blogs, podcasts, twitter, Facebook, Flickr, friendfeed, YouTube, etc, brings us closer together with other people on the other side of the country, the other side of the world, or even in our own neighborhood in ways that have never been possible before.

There is some awareness of the echo-chamber nature of the social media world, but I’m not at all worried about that, mainly because the rate of adoption of these tools is picking up speed. I wonder how many people in the television industry were worrying about the rate of television adoption in the early 60s?

But when creating a social media marketing campaign, one has to remember that not everyone is connected using these tools, and even if they are, they’re not necessarily aware of you, or the fact that you’ve got some cool things happening online.

So another best practice: bridge the gap between social media and face-to-face interactions. I recently went to a restaurant in Boston with a sticker in the window that read “People love us on Yelp”. I had actually found the restaurant because I used the Yelp iPhone application to give me a restaurant recommendation near my current location.

Having the Yelp sticker in the window accomplishes two things: It welcomes Yelpers who arrive to the restaurant for the first time, making them feel special and at home. It also may create curiosity in non-Yelpers to check out that web site. And creates awareness for Yelp at the same time. This is a great example of bridging the gap, even when your virtual company has little or no physical presence.

Example number two of bridging the gap: One of the hottest social media campaigns, inside the credit union world or out, is Young and Free. The first incarnation launched in Alberta, Canada. Now there’s a sister campaign that has launched in Houston. One of the neatest aspects of getting this off the ground is the amazing Go Mobile/Guitar Hero/Info truck that Trey is driving around from event to musical event. Many young folks in the target demographic are using social media and networking tools, but they wouldn’t necessarily come across the campaign unless there is some bridge from their world to finding the CU’s social media site. This fun, tricked-out truck, which is camping out at events that young folks are at fits the bill perfectly.

What marketing efforts do you see that nicely bridge the gap between the online and physical worlds?

Showdown, Texas-style

August 12, 2008

On Sunday night, I found out why Trey Reeme has been very quiet on the credit union/social media scene since the beginning of the year. It’s because he’s been working to bring Tim McAlpine and Currency Marketing’s Young & Free Alberta campaign to Trey’s new credit union, TDECU (fka Texas Dow Employees’ CU). This news was twittered very quickly Sunday night, with Bryan Sims being the first outsider to discover it the night before the official launch.

Yesterday, launch day of Young & Free Texas, it has been blogged by William Azaroff and Trey Reeme, Tim McAlpine, and Ben Rogers, and reported by CU Times, Reuters, and Forbes.

This exciting news, the Young & Free campaign’s launch and license for the first time in the United States, was tempered with the news that another credit union in Texas has copied (emulated?) the Young & Free concept (reported by The Financial Brand), in most, if not all, details.

This brings up the issue of financial institution branding in the internet age.

In the old days, it was easy. There was no way someone in Alberta, Canada would ever encounter something from Houston, Texas. And only traveling professionals would have regular visits between Houston (HQ area of TDECU) and Dallas (HQ of Resource 1 CU). But the internet has changed all that. With three clicks of a mouse, someone can view Young & Free Alberta, Young & Free Texas, and Resource 1 CU’s MyLifeMyMoney . And in fact, googling “Young Free” today yields the Alberta campaign as the first two results, and William Azaroff’s blog post about the Texas launch near the bottom of the page.

MyLifeMyMoney could suffer the same fate as the stellar BBC sitcom “Coupling” when it was translated from British to American TV. Coupling has six main characters, three men and three women, and the series explores the humor of their personal lives, and male/female dating and stereotypes. The BBC original is delightful, unexpected, and original. When Friends ended its 11-year hit run, NBC needed something to replace it, and purchased an American version of Coupling. But rather than re-interpret the British version in an American style, it simply copied the BBC original, line for line. The only difference was the American actors, and a few changed words such as ‘lorry’ to ‘truck’. Whether or not you had seen the British original, the American version stunk. It was flat. It had no sparkle, no charm, no pizzazz, all the things which made the British version wonderful. Even though 99% of American audiences had no idea that it was a copy of a show across the pond, no one watched it, and it was promptly cancelled.

This is what Resource 1 CU’s MyLifeMyMoney is. Nearly identical in most regards (spokesperson contest, online voting, etc), just changing the words and switching the graphics. Copying the surface, without understanding the depth. The first difference I see in MyLifeMyMoney is the declaration that the campaign is aimed at 18-35 year olds. What an 18 year-old and a 35-year old have in common is that they eat and breathe. And not much else. (A smart credit union marketing professional recently updated her Facebook status saying 30 is too old to come up with effective marketing strategies for the 18 to 21 age group. When will financial institutions understand that a.) it’s not about age and b.) even if it is about age, you don’t need to say it in your ads — Hey you! If you are between the ages of 26 and 34, pay attention because this ad is aimed at your wallet! Otherwise, never mind and go away!) MyLifeMyMoney also uses generic, cheesy, typical stock photography showing happy white people who could be anywhere. There is nothing that says “Texas” or local about these generic images, which is in stark contrast to Young & Free. Another social media misstep is that blog posts on the site are unsigned. Nothing says “corporate” more than faceless blog postings.

The final area where MyLifeMyMoney seems to fall short is that the actual value that a young person gets is unclear. On the surface it seems like a bunch of fancy names for services the credit union offers anyway. Free online banking? Who doesn’t offer that? Free live call center? Free ATM deposits? Free drive thru? Free direct deposit? Does ANY FI charge for these things? Free 8 locations? What, if you are older, you are charged for walking into a branch? Thud.

Resource 1 CU appears to have copied the surface appearance of Young & Free, while making mistakes on critical social media aspects.

In contrast to the hit BBC show “Coupling”, the BBC hit sitcom “The Office” made the leap across the Atlantic very differently than Coupling’s straight-out copy. The Office retained the name and core concept in translation, but was completely re-interpreted in an American style. And the results have been a runaway success on both sides of the pond. This is my hope for Young & Free’s translation south of the 49th parallel.

However, even Young & Free Texas has the potential to be less successful than Young & Free Alberta. As I mentioned, googling Young Free results in the Young Free Alberta site showing for the first two results. How will this be resolved? What is the best that Young Free Texas can hope for? Five Alberta results and five Texas results? What kind of confusion is that going to create in young potential members? What are young people going to think when they see Alberta videos mixed in with Texas videos on YouTube? Never mind the potential confusion that will occur once other states join the fray. Are Texans going to take kindly to the fact that they are second-class citizens, copying the magic that is occurring in Alberta? Texans have built their brand on being the biggest and best. Texans don’t take kindly to being second-fiddle at ANYTHING. You can’t hide things on the internet. Texans WILL find Young Free Alberta. The questions are how much, how often, and will they care? Because I like both Tim and Trey so much, and I love the Young & Free campaign and everything Larissa has done as Spokester, I would like to see them and Young & Free be successful in Texas as well. I even thought about NOT writing about Resource 1’s version of Young and Free. But that would be not accomplish anything. It’s on teh INTER-NETS. It’s out there for EVERYONE to see. Everyone can see the strategy of Resource 1. It’s not like if I don’t write about it that it will go away. It’s already out there. (A video from Larissa/Young & Free Alberta shows up as the third ‘related video’ result on YouTube when viewing the MyLifeMyMoney spokester search explanation video.

Young & Free Alberta’s success is definitely not solely due to Larissa Walkiw’s talent and charm. Young & Free Alberta has three primary success factors going for it: 1.) It’s completely new and innovative; no financial institution has ever done anything like this. 2.) The CU has a unique product (free checking) which no other F.I. has in Alberta. 3.) The campaign gives young people a true voice, not only through spokesperson Larissa, but through the unique Albertan events that Larissa covers in person and shoots videos and blogs about.

Young and Free Texas will have number three on the above list, but will not have number one, and number two is questionable. I’m not sure how the Go2Account stacks up against not only what TDECU offers, but against other FIs in Texas. I’m not sure what Dual Checking and Savings accounts mean, but checking accounts are already free at TDECU.

Will Young & Free Texas equal the success of Young & Free Alberta without a clearly compelling and differentiating product? Will Resource 1 CU learn enough on the fly about social media to make MyLifeMyMoney successful and be able to overcome the lack of a differentiating product?

Update: Now that I have listened to Trey’s phone conversation with Mark McSpadden, I have learned that Trey acknowledges 1.) The hope that Young & Free Texans commune with Young & Free Albertans and any other future Young & Free’ers and 2.) that he and TDECU decided to proceed with launching Young & Free Texas despite not being able to launch the corresponding youth product in the way that they had wanted. However neither of these points is apparent (or matters) to outsiders or the target audience.

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.

Interview with Trey Reeme

January 25, 2008
Morriss Partee interviews Trey Reeme, now Channel Integration Manager for TDECU in Houston, TX. In the photo, Trey is on the left, and Morriss is on the right. Recorded on Friday, January 11, 2008, while Trey was in Lake Jackson, TX (near Houston), and Morriss was in Holyoke, MA. Trey’s new blog can be found here: http://treyreeme.com

The impetus for this interview was Trey’s leaving Trabian, a web-design company specializing in serving CUs, after being with the company for four start-up years, to work on the other side of the table for TDECU, a $1 billion, 107,000 member CU in Lake Jackson, TX. Inquiring minds wanted to know why, and what Trey is planning next.

Audio post uploaded by mmpartee using Utterz. mp3


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,917 other followers