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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – These are Mark Weber’s seven mistakes that he says cause some of the greatest pain or misconceptions when a credit union converts to a community charter. * New members will now beat a path to your door. “It’s absolutely amazing to me how many CEOs and boards I meet with across the country who land a community charter, sign the official deal, and go, `New members are now going to be flocking into our credit union. What are we going to do to handle all the volume?’ “It doesn’t happen,” says Weber, president and chief executive officer of Weber Marketing Group in Seattle. * Your brand image suddenly changed with your new community charter. “In most of the focus group research that we do. Very, very few people that don’t know they can join a credit union today know what a community chartered credit union is,” Weber said. “It’s still a credit union. There are still issues around who can join. So suddenly the issue around your brand image becomes very different. People are looking at you in a new light. You’ve got to decide everything from your name to your core brand, what you stand for, why should people come here. What are the issues surrounding your brand that you need to relook at and reshape?” * Now you focus primarily on new members [to drive growth]. “It may be one of the biggest mistakes you ever make if you do it at the cost of relationships with existing members,” Weber said. “If you forget to focus on relationship development and profitability, you’re going to have a huge loss.” * Marketing to select employee groups is no longer necessary. “This is going to be one of the more painful learning experiences you’re going to have if you ignore your SEGs or you don’t make key decisions about them,” he said. “You really have to think in a broader context.” * Don’t increase the marketing budget. We’re going to do everything with the exact same dollars. “The other issue is what do you do with the marketing budget,” Weber said. “Where do you spend it? It seems logical that you immediately pour it into advertising to get the word out . . . “Media is the most expensive strategy there is,” he said, adding that other alternatives are available. * Don’t change your marketing plan. “You will need to change your marketing plan,” he said. “You will need to rethink the way you approach markets, the way you approach members and the way you allocate your time resources of dollars.” “There’s a shift that’s going to take place to be successful within your branch managers and within your staff in the way that they do business in the communities they serve,” he said. * Branch managers and the internal team will automatically know the changes they must make. “Absolutely not the case,” Weber said. “We’ve come back to organizations from $100 million to $3 billion and learned that the staff is waiting for someone to tell them what to do.” -

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