Hiring Young Observers

Hiring Young Observers

"These kids have ambition and aspiration coming out of their ears. They want to be leaders when they grow up. They want to change the world."Generation-y work

Small Business Labs (Talking About Gen Y)

In the Spring, I wrote about “Recruiting Generation Y.” In that piece, I offered tips on how to recruit those twenty-something Generation Yers. While those five tips might help you in the interview process, perhaps a bigger question worth exploring is “why would I even want to hire someone from Generation Y?”

Turns out there are lots of reasons. Of course, this generation is smart and energetic (perhaps more so than any previous group). In many cases, they have unbridled passion. They blend the work ethic of the Greatest Generation, the fun-loving nature of the Baby Boomers and the technology of Generation X. This hybrid makes them an uber-generation of sorts.

Perhaps one of the best reasons to hire someone under 30 is simply to have them observe your credit union (or company) to examine ways you can improve. Gen. Y is a group of keen observers. Not only that, they will ask lots of questions. Yes, lots! While that may annoy you at times those questions could also result in you digging deeper. Deeper into your policies. Deeper into your procedures. Deeper into products. Deeper into why you do the things you do.

Here’s how it could work. Hire someone just out of college and pay them a reasonable salary. Then have them spend a month in each department both observing and doing the work that group does. Each Friday management could sit down with the employee and ask them what they observed. Pretty simple stuff. But it could turn enlightening.

With today’s economy it might be impossible to hire someone like this just to do some observing. An alternative is to task every new young hire with observing their job and one month later develop two new ideas for how the company can improve. Catch them while they are fresh and not tainted by office politics or your current work culture.

This idea of having young people share and implement their ideas is being fostered at the upcoming Southwest CUNA Management School. The school has developed something called “Connect to Collaborate,” which is a way to engage those under 30. You can read more about it in this CU Grow blog post.

We often think we need to teach the younger generation all about the way work really is. Perhaps it should be the other way around.

Building a Winning Position Statement

Building a Winning Position Statement

Brands don’t just happen. Brands are built. And one of the keys to building a successful brand is building a winning position statement. According to entrepreneur.com, a position statement “helps establish your product’s or service’s identity within the eyes of the purchaser. A company’s positioning strategy is affected by a number of variables related to customers’ motivations and requirements, as well as by its competitors’ actions.”


So how do you build that position statement? Here are five elements every position strategy should have, along with a couple of examples (one non-financial institution and one large financial institution).


(1)    Who—To the target audience who seeks/desires/believes

(2)    What—Our brand is the category/player/frame of reference

(3)    Rational benefit—That offers/creates/delivers a point of difference

(4)    Emotional benefit—So target can feel/realize/achieve

(5)    Reason to believe—Because it offers a proof of point


So now that you have the words/formula, let’s look at a couple of well-known brands’ position statement.


Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream




  • To ice cream lovers who don’t do things by halves (who)
  • Ben & Jerry’s is the ice cream (what)
  • That fills your face full of flavor (rational benefit)
  • So you can feel gloriously righteous about your indulgence (emotional benefit)
  • Because it’s outrageously packed full of the stuff you love to love (reason to believe)


Ben & Jerry make their position statement extremely clear. They tell who they are targeting, what they are about and why someone should just their ice cream.






  • For Main Street USA (who)
  • We are the online bank (what)
  • That exists to save you money (rational benefit)
  • So you can enjoy life (emotional benefit)
  • Because we operate entirely online, through the mail and over the phone and pass savings onto you in the form of the best interest rates in the marketplace (reason to believe)


ING also clearly spells out what they are about and then explains why you should believe their offerings.


Once the foundation of building a position statement is complete, then you can begin to build your marketing plan.


Note: This material was part of a BancVue presentation

E-Scan Offers Marketing Insights

E-Scan Offers Marketing Insights

Self-disclosure time: I serve as a contributing author for the E-ScanEscan

The Credit Union National Association just released the 2010-2011 Environmental Scan. The E-Scan offers insights in 10 primary areas affecting credit unions, including legislation, compliance, H.R. and of course marketing. The E-Scan is a must-read for any credit union executive and is also an outstanding planning tool to use.

As we noted, “Marketing isn’t always about how much money is in the budget. It’s about how you use that money.”

There were many options we could have examined relating to marketing but we narrowed our focus this year to five key areas. Below are some excerpts from the key findings.

(1)    Recession Marketing

Marketing in a recession can actually improve long-term results. Most businesses, including credit unions, take a knee-jerk approach to cutting marketing budgets during a recession. That leaves a void in consumers’ minds for proactive marketers to fill. There’s less clutter for markets to compete with—fewer direct-mail pieces, more empty billboards, and fewer sponsors at community events. A recession actually gives credit unions a prime opportunity to differentiate themselves without spending a lot of money.

(2)    Regulatory Changes

There’s a tremendous amount of activity in Washington right now that could affect your credit union and its members. If you haven’t communicated regulatory and legislative activities to members, there’s a good chance most members are in the dark or misinformed.

(3)    Inertia Marketing

Like it or not, banking relationships rely on inertia. Once relationships are formed, tremendous amounts of energy are needed to motivate people to move. The law of inertia as it applies to marketing means

consumers will remain at rest (stay with their current providers) unless some force compels them to make a change. To overcome inertia, credit unions have to do something truly remarkable. But “remarkable” might be more attainable than you think. There’s something remarkable, compelling, and unique about every credit union—and it’s not service. Service is not a compelling differentiator, especially when everyone says it. And nobody ever claims to give poor service.

(4)    Social Media

Social media—or Web 2.0—has changed the rules of the Internet. What was once a static library of online information has become a dynamic, free-flowing social center. As a result, credit unions have a chance to turn change into opportunity. “There’s a great opportunity right now for credit unions to use social media to connect and build relationships with members and nonmembers,” says James Robert Lay, founder of PTP New Media, a viral and social marketing company. If your credit union wants to connect with members and nonmembers using social media, Lay recommends blogs, Facebook, Twitter, podcasts, and Web video (YouTube, Blip.tv, or Vimeo.


(5)    Marketing To Women

It’s time to take an inventory of your credit union’s marketing materials. Do any of them speak primarily to women? If they don’t, it’s a sign your marketing materials could be outdated and missing the mark. Even if your graphics are relevant to women, you’re only one-third of the way there. Your message and the way you deliver it represent the other two-thirds of the equation.

These were just a few excerpts. To get the full context of the marketing section and to read the other insights, be sure to purchase your copy of the E-Scan.

So what do you think? Are these the top marketing trends credit unions should be aware of as we move into the planning process? What issues would you add? What comments would you include with those five above topics?