BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Financial Marketing Group, Inc. has come intoits own. Formed in 1983 by the Alabama Credit Union League, themarketing solutions provider has expanded to serve credit unionsnationwide - with an eye on community credit unions in particular."We're lucky that Alabama Credit Union League CEO Gary Wolter sawthis need and wanted FMG to be more than just a creative boutique,"said FMG Executive Vice President Don Casselman. "So we're here tohelp community chartered credit unions be successful whilemaintaining the credit union difference to position themselves asunique in this competitive market." Casselman says gone are thedays when credit unions could rely solely on member loyalty, andresults driven marketing is more important than ever. He adds thatthe biggest challenge of community credit unions is the commitmentof resources they have to make internally in terms of people andfinancially in terms of budget because there is a whole matrix ofresponsibilities when marketing to the general population. He saysin the end the board is the key, "if the board has the vision andunderstands it then the credit union will succeed." "Members aren'tjust turning off or tuning out banker advertisements, so we focuson delivering cost efficient penetrating campaigns to credit unionsso they can compete," said Casselman. "As we tell our clients, ifyour credit union isn't growing then it is shrinking even if youstay the same size because others around you are growing. It isespecially important for community credit unions because typicallythey are new to the market." Positioned as a "total marketingresource", FMG specializes in marketing community chartered creditunions though customized development and production supervision forprint ads, broadcast television and radio spots, Web sitedevelopment and Internet trafficking, media buying, direct mail,newsletters, brochures, flyers, annual reports, logo design,branding initiatives, Hispanic marketing programs, publicitycampaigns and media relations. Casselman keeps his organizationlean - working with only two senior account executives CorinneGoble and Michele Willis- and creating strategic alliances withagencies across the country. In addition, dozens of differentworking relationships at the advertising and freelance levelsallows FMG to offer "a unique flexibility that you can't get withthe typical staff araangement." Alliances offer credit unionclients a range of services from enhanced service culture andemployee training to incentive and promotional programs. "It is avery nontraditional approach," said Casselman. "I once had a 140person staff in an ad agency in Atlanta and all I did every day wasmanage problems, not business. So here we keep it lean and meanmaking sure the clients get the most value for their money." Tobetter determine how to help clients, the firm has developed a15-point template designed to learn more about the credit union'sculture, philosophy and identify the market. Then the team getsbusy developing a program and will work alongside the creditunion's marketing department for three months. Clients who likewhat they see can then opt to sign an annual retainer. "It is agreat way to offer clients a trial run, and once they see that weserve as a resource from working with their existing marketing andmanagement teams to taking care of the day-to-day marketingresponsibilities if they don't have a marketing team, they usuallysign up," said Casselman. In addition to constantly checking shortand long term goals, the firm helps identify marketingopportunities such as making the most of credit union Web sites,transforming them into virtual branches and creating roads andsigns on the Internet to bring members in. For example, the nexttime consumers type in auto loan or free checking in a searchengine it could generate a link to the credit union or enhancingWeb pages to include video streams. Casselman says FMG also helpstrack results through a variety of methods to better tailorsolutions. The firm typically helps community credit unions in the$100 to $500 million in assets range and at any one time can beworking on some 60 to 100 different projects. The three-person teamworks closely with agency partners and top freelancers across thecountry to ensure projects adhere to Casselman's cardinal rule of"on time, on budget and on personality-meaning it has to fit thecredit union's culture". Proof that it is making waves, FMG hasrecently inked a deal with CUNA as its official partner foradvertising agencies. FMG will be working actively with them tohelp credit unions that need this type of service. The firm is alsoin talks with Dollar & Associates to serve as a consultant onbusiness development. "We feel honored that CUNA approached us andultimately selected us," said Casselman. "Only about 20-30% ofconsumers say credit unions are their primary financialinstitution- we want to help raise that."[email protected]

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