The Greatest Financial Institution in the World

There are often defining moments in your career. Whether you get laid off, move to a new city, start a business, or otherwise change jobs leaps of faith produce overwhelming amounts of anxiety. But then there are moments when you realize you have landed exactly where you are supposed to be. This was mine.

It was my first day and to say I was nervous was an understatement. I was commuting 5 hours to Richmond from Charlotte each week. I gave up an upwardly mobile job I loved and left behind my husband to sell our home so I could be in Richmond to help with ailing family members. Here I was the first ever marketer for a manufacturer’s credit union. And I had no idea what a credit union was, let alone how to market one.

I remember sitting across the desk from our VP of Operations, Karen. I asked her if I could see the credit union’s brochures. She tilted her head confused and said, “Kelley, that’s why we hired you. We don’t have any brochures.” “Oh!  But we have this!” Out she pulled a plain burgundy folder. Inside was a hodge podge of the standard marbleized CUNA disclosure forms stuffed haphazardly alongside a white sheet of copy paper. At the top of the paper were words I could barely make out, since it was obviously a copy of a copy of a copy. But I’m almost certain it said, “Welcome to the Greatest Financial Institution in the World.”

I’ll admit I was quite taken aback by this statement. Here this credit union had no brochures, and had gone 40 years without a glance in the mirror. But it didn’t take me long to realize what made them so great. And it had nothing to do with a lack of flashy collateral or its laissez faire attitude on marketing and appearance. Being great was a state of mind, an expectation of everyone in the organization.

They put my office in the lobby because they wanted me to witness the magic that happens inside a credit union branch each day. The problem with this was that I was often mistaken as the Branch Manager. One day a member came in and sat in the office and before I could open my mouth to say, “Oh sorry – I’m just the marketer I don’t have access to your account.” He began pouring his heart out about his terrible day. Stunned, I just sat and listened. Then, he told me that he came to the credit union because he knew his day would get better. I smiled and suddenly got an idea. I snapped his picture and told him I was going to make him a star.

I put him on the front cover of our very first brochure. And inside the cover, I put the words, {Welcome to the Greatest Financial Institution in the World.}

The moral of the story is that you can never truly judge a book by its cover or in this case the lack of covers. And our jobs as credit union marketers is to take this rare gem we’ve been handed and simply buff it so it shines.

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About giraphcu

Greetings and salutations! Welcome to gira{ph}, a strategic marketing firm that helps credit unions amplify their greatness to create chemistry with consumers. The credit union movement has given so much to us. This is our way of giving back. Enjoy!
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