The Snake Oil that May be Gumming up your Credit Union Strategic Planning


You’re faced with a new challenge at your credit union. You see the obstacle, but you can’t identify the right solution. You start doing some digging. You find some podcasts, blogs and white papers on the topic, and the answers seem to conflict with each other from the various experts. They all seem confident, so who should you listen to?

All of them.

Before I share that, here’s something relevant I’ve learned as a leader: Keep an open mind and keep a healthy mix of confidence and inquiry. As a credit union leader, you must have a healthy level of confidence in your choices, but also be open to being wrong.

When onboarding a new strategic marketing client or facilitating a credit union strategic planning session and I encounter strong pushback, my response is usually something like this:

“I’ve seen so much evidence that [whatever it is I’ve stated] is true, but I always want to be open to learning something new. If [what the client says and believes] is true, it seems like it would be an exception, and it would really surprise me. Tell me more.”

I demonstrate my confidence in my knowledge of the subject and the data and trends I’ve seen hold true, while also expressing my openness to learning something new.

Recent revelations will run counter to some deeply held beliefs we have been using as a crutch for a long time. I visualize my deeply held beliefs as this slow-growing collection of truths with high walls around it. I also regularly and intentionally open the door to new insights, which requires me to rethink the beliefs already inside those walls.

Back to the original question: Who should you listen to?”


What could they have to offer when they don’t know the particulars of your situation? They aren’t walking in your shoes. True, but when you pause to reflect, you’ll probably find something of value. That rare applicable insight is a golden opportunity.


Within this community, you’ll find the comfort of others who have been there and done that. Beware the danger, however, that freely given advice is usually worth just what you pay for it. You’ll find a mix of fantastic advice and fresh ideas, but also pretty lousy ideas that are like poison ivy you can’t get out of the credit union flower garden. Admit it. You’ve sat at a conference and heard a very successful peer talk about what they’ve done to get great results, and you lean into the ear of the person next to you and whisper, “That’s crazy. I would never do that.”


There are legitimate experts, and then there are snake oil salesmen. Learn to distinguish the two.

If the sales pitch is as pushy as street hustlers in New Orleans (if you know, you know), then danger could be ahead. There’s a bright smile and an immediate promise of results before even understanding the situation and diagnosing the actual problem.

My credit union strategic marketing and credit union strategic planning clients know the most important rule of our engagement is to “ask a freaking question” and gain perspective before talking about solutions. The most valuable experts will also kindly but unabashedly have tough conversations. They know clients pay for advice, not compliments.

Continue listening, reading and watching. Continue learning, growing and asking questions. Keep your mind open to allow your beliefs and ideas to be challenged. Continue asking “freaking questions” to gain perspective to find the proper solution to your actual problems.

Prepared to Start Asking the Freaking Questions?

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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


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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