HOLYOKE, Mass. – The marketing secrets are getting out, and CUMarketingDept.com founders Morriss Partee and Steven Tripp couldn’t be happier. “We’ve been amazed every day by the response to this,” said Partee, who is also principal of marketing design firm Partee Creative Services. “Really it is our members that make the site worth visiting, and we always refer to it as our Web site because it belongs to our members as much as it does to us.” Partee and Tripp first became involved with credit unions through freelance marketing jobs that blossomed into long-term relationships with a few credit union marketers. Impressed with the credit union philosophy of “people helping people”, the two began looking at what the world of credit union marketing consisted of at the time. The idea for the site then developed from recognizing the need for a forum where credit union marketers could freely share information and ideas without being bombarded with solicitations from vendors. While originally targeting credit unions between $50 million and $300 million in assets, the site boasts a few billion-dollar credit union members, which suits Partee and Tripp just fine. “We wanted the site to be a personal marketing resource for credit unions,” said Partee. “Somewhere credit union marketers could tap into the expertise of over a hundred marketers across the country and find out what others are doing, what works, what didn’t work and why- just by logging in.” Developed in the fall of 2000 and launched during spring of 2001, the site now has over 1,400 active discussion participants just through word of mouth. Registration is free; members simply type in their credit union name and select preferences. The discussion area is not viewable by the public and topics range from choosing MCIF providers and marketing strategies to member surveys. The site contains a search feature, and all messages are grouped by topic. As site Web Development and Marketing Director Tripp designed the discussion area as a combination of a traditional e-mail-only list-serve with the benefits of a Web site message board. Members can choose to receive immediate email notification, or a daily digest. A team of approximately four part-time staffers helps maintain the site. “This area is by far the most popular among members,” said Partee. “There are so many terrific credit union executives across the country filled with great ideas and for the most part they love to share and help other credit unions as much as their busy schedules allow.” In addition to the popular discussion area, the site offers access to customizable marketing campaigns; over 250 documents submitted by other members such as business development plans, ROI calculators and PowerPoint presentations; book reviews and articles; and even a search feature to find marketers at similar credit unions. Site members download over 1,000 documents each week. In fact, one marketing plan has been downloaded 1,900 times. “We are constantly trying to make the site represent the wants and needs of members,” said Partee. “It is amazing to see the changes in marketing over the years. When we first started the general trend was marketers wondering if they should get into e-mail marketing or promote online banking and now they are asking each other which email or MCIF program are you using or do you find most helpful.” New ideas for the direction of the site are not just generated by Partee and Tripp but also the members themselves. Decisions on which ideas to further develop are decided in conjunction with a virtual advisory panel consisting of credit union marketers. This year, CUMarketingDept. com debuted the business card CD-ROM aimed at helping credit unions gain new SEGs. The mini CD is the size of a business card but can used in a standard disk tray. The card then launches a flash presentation highlighting the benefits and features of credit union membership. In addition, the site will host its first Webinar with Rory Rowland who will discuss credit union best practices in e-services. According to Partee, the site will host one Webinar per month. To personalize the online experience, Partee says that members can upload photos or cartoon images of themselves to their profiles. “We wanted the Web site to feel professional yet approachable and friendly,” said Partee. “We also wanted it to be very easy to use and fast loading so that marketers have immediate access to the tools they need to get the job done.” According to Partee the feedback from members is the most rewarding part of the site. “The highest honor we’ve received is when one of our members told me that he made CUMarketingDept.com his home default page,” said Partee. “It is so thrilling to know that we are helping credit union marketers make connections with each other.” [email protected]

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