Ethics in Credit Union Marketing

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Always be learning. The moment we think we know it all is the minute we know nothing. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an event in Atlanta for the marketing agency industry and got grounded back into our “why” at YMC with some timely reminders. I furiously jotted notes to share with my team, but the more I reviewed my notes, the more I wanted to share some of these with you. If you have a credit union marketing firm you work with, or are contemplating working with a credit union marketing firm, these will serve as some good reminders on getting the most out of the relationship you are investing in.

A marketing industry expert (and host of the conference I attended) summed up the role of a strategic marketing firm this way:

“What I most admire about you, as an advisor, is that you have nothing tactile to hand over to the client—it’s just you, standing naked in front of the room, carefully assessing, solving, and then speaking into that confusion. At its core, creativity is simplifying things; first, seeing the patterns, and then making the simple but courageous recommendation. And then applying the principles of change management to bring it to life with as little disruption as possible.”

He also shared some of the governing ethical principles marketing firms should adhere to in serving their clients well. While this was nothing new for me (but still good reminders), I feel these are principles any client of a marketing firm should also be aware of.

  1. Don’t over-promise. There is a reason we have a cap on the number of clients we will serve at any given time, and that reason is being able to deliver what we promise. And not just on time but with the expectation of quality. It’s true, sometimes we fail at this. When you employ humans, human things happen, but the very first of our three core values is RELATIONSHIPS. A good relationship is built on trust, and when trust is established, there is nothing we can’t overcome.
  2. Listen, very carefully. “We need loans!” It would be easy for any credit union marketing firm to hear that cry and immediately leave the meeting and come up with a cookie cutter idea. At YMC, we don’t listen to absorb, we listen to hear all of the data, and then know what data to sort through to get to the important stuff. That’s when you can truly dive into strategy and deliver ideas that get results (our other two core values at YMC!)
  3. Acknowledge what we don’t know. We are advisors. In fact, we are expert advisors when it comes to credit union marketing. Over the last 15 plus years, we’ve seen a lot and learned a lot. But that doesn’t make us know-it-alls, or at least does not make us want to pretend to be know-it-alls. We are external advisors, and without asking good questions to gain perspective, we can be wrong. If your credit union marketing advisor doesn’t pause to gain perspective, they will get things wrong often. Hell, we can be wrong sometimes even when we do gain perspective!
  4. You (the client) have a valuable role in this relationship. Sometimes a credit union hires us, hands us the keys, and walks away. For some agency executives, this can be a dream. (Did you know published marketing expert Jack Skeels estimates 70% of advertising agency executives think that the client holds them back from doing their best work?) We prefer an engaged client. You, as the client, know more than we do about your credit union, and it’s our job to learn that from you as the relationship progresses. This is a fine line though. While you know more about your credit union than us, you must not know more about the solution to your problems than us. You wouldn’t have hired someone from the outside if you did! We bring the ability to ask questions you wouldn’t know to ask and see things you can’t see from the inside. In fact, there are two things a successful credit union marketing firm will offer you: external objectivity – our work with similar clients allows us to see patterns you cannot see – and courage to speak truthfully on the subjects at hand. Most firms cannot or will not speak the truth as they are constantly trying to just keep the client happy, instead of doing what is right for the client.
  5. A good dose of empathy. It takes a courageous leader to reach out to us and say, “Help me!” Asking for help isn’t human nature most of the time. We empathize with our clients who can be vulnerable. Most of our client relationships are with credit union leaders who are entering an agency relationship for the first time. One of the first conversations we have with a new client, even before our very first meeting, is to review a document called “how to client.” Most agencies enter a client relationship assuming you know how this all works, and that usually doesn’t end well. If you’ll be vulnerable and share your hopes and dreams – as well as those things that keep you up at night – we can lock hands in unity with you and truly be an asset to your credit union, your team, and your members by helping to get the right products into the right members’ hands on a consistent basis.

Your credit union deserves an ethical approach to credit union marketing. Your marketing firm should be more than an advertising firm, it should be a trusted advisor that speaks the truth and pushes you out of your comfort zone. That’s why we are hired, and that’s what our clients need. Otherwise, you could just do it yourself.

If you’re struggling to meet the goals of your credit union, why not give us a shot? For over 15 years, we have been using a successful, time-tested approach to helping credit unions get unstuck and achieve amazing results. Just reach out, and we’ll pencil in a fact finding meeting to see if we can help you too.

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
 
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
 
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Living life by his motto to “Do good even if the world is unfair,” Dexter would also advise his younger self, “It’s hard, but you’re doing good!” Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche

Copywriter

Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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