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CLINTON, Md. – For 25 years Visions Ink has been providing marketing/communications support to credit unions, and President Maggie Fielding wouldn’t have it any other way. “When we first started, we never dreamed the company would grow into the successful business that it is today or that we would offer the variety of services we now provide,” said Fielding. “It has not only been a lot of fun working with our credit union clients but we’ve also developed many lasting friendships over the years. I just could not think of anything I would enjoy doing more.” Fielding’s credit union roots began at NASA Federal Credit Union where she found a job right out of college and worked with Don Beall, who she credits with “raising her” in the credit union philosophy. After leaving the credit union, Beall also encouraged her to try her hand as a marketing services freelancer. “Sometimes the path that lays before you is not what you expected. Staying credit union focused was something we felt good about and were good at,” said Fielding. “Opportunity knocked and that started everything, I met my husband and together we picked up a few more clients and incorporated Visions Ink.” With a primary objective of having everything from designers and copywriters to printing, Web design and mailings in-house, Visions Ink has grown from just three employees to 22. The marketing communications firm serves some 150 credit unions from across the country ranging in size from under $10 million in assets to over $1 billion. It also works with the Cherry Blossom Run marketing committee every year in Washington, D.C. Fielding says the goal is to provide clients with a single contact and avoid the coordinating with a mailing house, printer or the countless other tasks that must be scheduled to get a campaign off the ground. “In many respects we’re still a still a small shop and our focus is on providing personalized service,” said Fielding. “We also are lucky to have a lot of former credit union professionals on staff so they already understand the movement, philosophy and are familiar with the challenges faced by credit union marketers. So together we come up with new ideas while tapping into our experience.” With an eye on technology shaping the future of marketing, Visions Ink has recently formed a partnership with VIDISolutions, a provider of video communication software, to become a distributor of VIDISolutions’ streaming software to help credit unions produce their own high quality streaming video emails that the firm calls “VIDIs”. The “VIDIs” can be customized with the credit union brand and messages ranging from explaining the ins and outs of Internet banking to promoting upcoming events or conferences. In addition to keeping up with technology and marketing trends, the firm’s future plans include a renovation of its headquarters, which should be completed by late summer. “Today everything is tied to remote access and technology. Credit unions want to get the right information out as quickly as possible in a clear manner that is easy for members to respond,” said Fielding. “Having a quality image is really important. My advice to credit unions with a limited budget is if you can only do one thing then focus on that and do it well-don’t try to spread yourself too thin.” Fielding adds that there are some myths that credit unions continue to “buy into” but shouldn’t. Here are a few to avoid: * Myth 1-You can’t track your response to a marketing promotion if you don’t have an MCIF. This just isn’t true. It’s really not all that hard to measure your response. The numbers are there, albeit in a more simplified form. You can still validate your marketing expenditures. Start with the basics – like comparing auto loan growth for a certain period last year without a promotion with the same period this year with a promotion. In time, you’ll learn to factor in more variables to get a better understanding of how your members respond to your offers. * Myth 2 – Four-color printing is too expensive. Technology today has caused so many changes in the printing world that it can frequently be less expensive – and easier – for your printer to provide you with four-color process. Plus there are so many images available in four-color, it can actually cost you more to convert them to two-color. * Myth 3 – You have to have a big marketing budget to produce professional looking marketing campaigns. Not so! What is important is to use your marketing dollars creatively. Do less but do it better. Image is important. You can still look professional, crisp and knowledgeable on a limited budget. * Myth 4 – It will save you time and money if you do everything in-house. It depends. Stop to consider the time you spend to create a flyer yourself. Could your time be better spent managing a project and developing strategies to further your credit union’s objectives and goals? Would you get a more professional final product if you outsourced the project? Would the impact and impression left on your member be of a higher quality, and therefore more successful? [email protected]

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