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As a marketer with a passion for the credit union movement, I enjoyed Mike Welch’s March 24 column, “From Humble Beginnings, Marketing Has Arrived.But”, and I share his dismay at some things I also observed at the recent CUNA Diamond Awards. It’s disturbing to think that a clip-art billboard can bring home a Diamond. Mike’s also right to suggest it may be time to eliminate separate awards for non-agency ads: creative should be considered on its merits, regardless of how it’s produced. However, as a conscientious steward of CEFCU’s resources, I think he goes too far in his stance against ever using non-agency advertising. Even for billion-dollar-plus credit unions, there can be a time and a place for this approach. For example, CEFCU’s commitment to marketing is second to none. We have longstanding relationships with a top-notch creative agency and a reliable out-of-house production group. And yet, there are still times when we do ads in-house. Why? Because we can, and because sometimes it’s simply the best use of members’ resources. I agree with Mike that it would be rare for an in-house team to match an agency’s sheer creative horsepower. But by the same token, I can’t imagine paying an agency to maintain the depth of organizational and industry wisdom we take for granted within the CEFCU Marketing team. By developing ads in-house, staff showcase their own talents and save CEFCU thousands of dollars per year. It keeps staff fresh, and keeps creative lively – it even keeps the agencies on their toes knowing there are alternatives to lackluster concepts. And, CEFCU enjoys increased bang for the buck, too. If CEFCU didn’t see value in agency relationships, I might feel differently. But as things stand, we benefit from having the right tool for every job, at a cost we can live with. Simply put, it’s the best of all worlds. I appreciate Mike’s fighting for marketing resources. Many credit unions are much too tight-fisted with marketing dollars. But, with a mature marketing team (many of whom have agency experience themselves), it’s also great to have the talent and resources to choose when to use an agency and when it’s best to do a job in-house. Susan Yoder VP of Marketing CEFCU Peoria, Ill.

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