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LENEXA, Kan. – Created a little over two years ago, Beyond Marketing, LLC has made an impact on credit unions as the first full service marketing credit union service organization. As CEO of both Beyond Marketing and CU Holdings Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mazuma Credit Union, Lisa Renner says she’s pleased with the credit union marketing evolution. “I think credit unions are understanding it is a very competitive landscape and in order to compete and stay alive they’ve got to get out there and let consumers know not only that they exist but the advantages of belonging to their credit union,” said Renner. “We’ve seen more credit unions taking the big plunge and doing research to understand who their members and potential members are, what their needs are, develop positioning around that and shout that message from every mountain top over and over again.” Renner adds that sending a clear concise message to target segments consistently can lead to big results for credit unions. “It takes around 12 to 17 exposures for the average consumer to absorb a message. So if you think about a television ad that plays 30 times, in any one week the chance of you seeing that ad may be slim, so it can take years to build that message,” said Renner. “That is why it is so important to do the research and really understand how to reach your target market. Don’t forget about internal communications because if the staff doesn’t understand then you’ve just shot that campaign in the foot.” It is the study of consumer behavior and the “whys” behind their actions that initially drew Renner to marketing. After obtaining her masters in marketing from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and graduating magna cum laude from the University of North Alabama in Florence with a bachelor of science in marketing and minor in public relations, Renner worked for the American Management Association and the American Business Women’s Association. In 1997 Renner joined Mazuma Credit Union as vice president of marketing and a little over two years ago was given charge of CUSO development. With Renner’s experience in strategic planning, marketing metrics, advertising, business development, market research, product development and online marketing when the time came to discuss launching a CUSO the answer seemed obvious. “As we were discussing it an executive team member suggested that we could have a competitive advantage by offering full service marketing from research and promotion to e-marketing and all mass media,” said Renner. “Our unique advantage is that we have over 30 years of industry experience in one firm.” The team of eight, which works on an average of 20-25 projects at a time and handles all production in house. Departments include graphic design/Web development; sales; accounting; and client relations, which consists of writers and research/strategy development. Here’s how it works: after meeting with a client the team meets and discusses what they learned about the credit union and what its needs may be and then work on developing a proposal not only for the specific credit union request but other marketing strategies that will help the client achieve strategic goals. The additional proposals are part of what could be described as the organization’s holistic approach to targeted, results-driven marketing. “The synergy of having the entire team involved in a project is another benefit because the campaign is more than just one person’s opinion but includes input from every angle,” said Renner. “I like how devoted the staff is to our vision and mission of generating revenue for the client. I can’t find a more devoted group of people that understand and want credit unions to be the number one financial firm.” Renner is equally proud that the CUSO remains focused on its target market of the financial services industry and its vision of marketing to generate revenue and measure the return on investment. She says unfortunately some of the old marketing challenges remain such as budget constraints. “It is ironic really because whenever there is belt tightening in any industry the marketing budget is the first to be cut, yet it is the one area that helps the organization grow through promotion and selling more products and services,” said Renner. “Unfortunately because marketers historically have not produced good tracking results and return on investment analysis they’ve lost the opportunity to sell it as an income generating tool and therefore find it difficult to hold onto their budgets.” She admits that tracking in any industry is never easy because it is basically reliant upon front line staff who have contact with that member to accurately record how they heard about the credit union’s product/service. Without knowing what works with regard to media, how are marketers to know what to spend more money on? An effective measuring tool can be as simple as creating a printout for phone and frontline staff with questions pointed to finding out how members found out about the CU’s products. Renner adds there are also data processing systems that have the functionality to add these questions into the process of opening new accounts. “A lot of times people still think marketing is art. I have a wonderful artist on staff who laughs whenever I try to draw or sketch something-marketing is a science not art, it has to be studied and practiced. It is not from the gut but formulaic,” said Renner. “So if that trained expertise and education is not on hand at the credit union then it might be money well spent to outsource.” Renner says when a CU is considering outsourcing, they need to look for a firm that is committed to understanding the credit union’s philosophy, target market and goals. “You can have two credit unions next door to one another and yet be very focused on different target markets. Each credit union is unique and you’ve got to develop a branded look and communication strategy to talk to your members and potential members,” said Renner. “Marketing is not just a promotion or advertisement and credit unions should be very leery of anyone who just throws together a single promotion without considering the benefits of a full service mix from research, advertising and PR to Web development.” [email protected]

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