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Playing devil’s advocate, why should a credit union with a crackerjack marketing department enlist an outsource marketing company to create and conduct the nitty-gritty of marketing projects-tasks such as graphic design, concept development, printing, mail prep and mailings? Who is going to know your mission and your members better than your in-house team, or move work more quickly out the door on deadline? Isn’t that why you’ve got a marketing department now? Insider savvy is mission critical. Yet experienced credit unions that outsource graphic design, printing and mailing know there is a better answer. Outsourcing the production frees up your in-house marketers’ hands to accomplish their primary jobs-building and strengthening member relationships by developing “big picture” marketing strategies which best promote and implement your credit union’s core objectives. Farm out everything else to quicker, faster companies, better structured to do the minutia and detail work; they are often cheaper than in-house costs. Many credit unions use a typical model to build their marketing departments. A manager and several marketing specialists handle strategy, creative tasks, design, and coordinate printing and mailings. That model should be modified because credit union marketing directors owe top priority to strategy and enduring marketplace results. Instead of generating the horsepower – newsletters, disclosure statements, flyers, loan sale promotions, etc. – marketing leaders generate the brainpower – planning, portfolio enhancement, product line profitability, Web development, mining member databases for sales opportunities and creating aggressive campaigns anticipating needs of present and prospective members. There’s a saying in business: “Manage inventory-Lead people.” The modern marketing leader is a generalist with broad-based knowledge and command of process, procedure and time management, one who elicits the most creative thinking from staffers about how to fulfill their credit union’s mission and objectives. Old-style marketing management thinking can get too bogged down in nuts-and-bolts production to create strategy. Outsourcing design, concept and print coordination streamlines work so credit union marketers can concentrate largely on marketing direction and product development. Credit unions are no strangers to outsourcing non-core competencies for better results and lower overhead costs than in-house renders. They do a lot of it – things like core data processing, IT network security, human resources, account and mortgage origination. It makes sense to outsource marketing functions too. This paradigm strategy shift needn’t overwhelm marketing departments if their leaders simply restructure them for greater efficiency and impact. First, credit unions should inventory all anticipated marketing results to determine priorities, then develop timelines for each. Next, determine the marketing department’s capability per priority. Accountability and ROI are vital measures-such as service, return to members, product development and building membership. Realign in-house marketing to achieve optimum effectiveness in these key areas. Shed extraneous tasks not serving these goals. Credit union marketing directors concerned about turf battles with outsource vendors should rest easy-they still hold the reins on all that horsepower: Only output, not ownership is outsourced, freeing the marketing director from time-consuming, hands-on creation while retaining their control of each project. In-house can mean “in-sular.” Outside suppliers can offer credit unions fresher, more objective perspectives on specific marketing components. Under threat of deadlines, many in-house marketing projects are cloned in theme from previous projects by default. Sometimes it’s better to shake things up rather than do things like you always have. Marketing departments that think big actually tend to be small. Small shops are leaner, more responsive groups, so their initiatives aren’t burdened with layers of in-house bureaucracy. Emphasizing less specialization, this compact group often lacks technical production acumen and resource contacts, where outsource firms thrive on expertise, craftsmanship and production network connections. So how do credit unions hire when searching for an outsource partner? Relationships are priority one-develop synergies with an outsource firm to create seamless production with its credit union client. You really need to build a partnership with whomever you choose so that it is someone who truly knows your credit union’s look, feel and tone. There are many clear reasons why an outsource partner complements a credit union’s in-house marketing department without competition, but among the biggest reasons is greatly increased effectiveness. Outsourcing offers increased project range, scope, execution under deadline and quality, all often at a lower expense than in-house could generate.

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