After reading Mike Welch's March 24th column about the evolution of the marketing function in credit unions ("From Humble Beginnings, Marketing Has Arrives.But"), I felt compelled to respond. Welch's overall position is spot on. Credit unions as an industry have ignored the merits of effective and aggressive marketing, and those that haven't, often establish broken, ineffective marketing departments. I've plied my trade both in a banking environment and in credit unions, and the contrasts are stark. Banks spend considerably on marketing, understanding the direct effect on growth, while credit unions largely treat marketing as a project catch-all, as Welch mentioned in his column. Marketing staff are often busy planning holiday parties, annual meetings, pot-luck lunches, chili-cookoffs, and other extraneous projects, instead of developing and managing products and services, and reaching strategic goals through effective marketing programs. Welch hit this nail on the head. Where we diverge in opinion, is on the subject of out-sourcing. Outsourcing undoubtedly has its place in credit union marketing, I agree. However, budget constraints are real, and the challenge for marketing executives is to realize maximum benefit per marketing dollar spent. We are forced to evaluate each planned program, and determine whether out-sourcing is the most practical option. Often, in-house resources are simply inadequate to produce the necessary materials and/or design competence required for a particular project. Conversely, many programs can be created and produced in-house, very competently and at a substantial savings over the agency alternative. An experienced and savvy marketing executive should be able to manage the balance between in-house and agency outsourcing. The key to effectively balancing the agency relationship is to fully understand the capabilities of in-house staff. If skillsets are needed, executives must attract the right people. If agencies can hire and manage designers, so can credit unions, to an extent. Thank you for highlighting a very important subject in the credit union industry. Through consistent delivery of tangible results, marketing executives can garner respect from their peers, and the necessary budget resources from their superiors, to expand their efforts year after year. Marketing is the lifeblood of a growing credit union. Tony Hale Vice President, Marketing Vought Heritage Community CU Grand Prairie, Texas

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