Welch's Column on Marketing a Disservice
Mike Welch's March 24th column on the Marketing and Business Development Awards ("From Humble Beginnings Marketing Has Arrived.But") left me feeling that, although he was an award winner and a great champion of credit union marketing, Welch has actually done a great disservice to the marketing profession. The thought that non-agency awards should be eliminated because "credit unions have come too far not to use outside professionals" is way off base and in fact counter to Welch's own argument that credit unions embrace and elevate marketing to the high position it deserves. If credit unions only used outside agencies for marketing, then many of us would be out of jobs. If I follow Welch's logic a little further, credit unions don't need marketers, they just need agencies or at least someone who can call an agency. Welch's assertion that billion dollar credit unions should not walk off with non-agency awards is also backward. Just the opposite, these credit unions should be the places where highly talented marketers do their best work. In the real world large credit unions have to make their dollars work just as hard as small credit unions. Many times agency staff is just an organized group of freelance people with many of the same skills as those in a credit union marketing department. The difference is that credit union staff know the business, our strengths and weaknesses. I do agree with Welch that results should be king. In the end, an ad or spot can be very creative, but fall flat on its face. I really don't care if the spot looks amateurish or the clip art is old as the hills. It is results that count. Let's not forget we are in this business to make the needle jump. If we produce results, we are to be congratulated. I too don't like the idea of bank bashing. My marketing rulebook says that you compete by highlighting your strengths, not drawing attention to a competitor's weakness. With this said, I also must admit the biggest problem facing the credit union industry is that most Americans don't know about credit unions. If this kind of creative does the job then I will have to rethink my position. Results make the difference, not agencies. I pride myself on the fact that as a professional marketer, I know the proper resources to use to achieve results at the lowest cost. Sometimes that involves an agency and other times it doesn't. Asset size has nothing to do with it. If we want to really recognize outstanding marketing, let's concentrate on those campaigns where the product, price, place and promotion all line up to create new business in support of our organizations' strategic and financial management goals. These are the real winners. Paul B. Stull Vice President, Marketing Hudson Valley FCU Poughkeepsie, N.Y.