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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Financial Marketing Group, Inc. has come into its own. Formed in 1983 by the Alabama Credit Union League, the marketing solutions provider has expanded to serve credit unions nationwide – with an eye on community credit unions in particular. “We’re lucky that Alabama Credit Union League CEO Gary Wolter saw this need and wanted FMG to be more than just a creative boutique,” said FMG Executive Vice President Don Casselman. “So we’re here to help community chartered credit unions be successful while maintaining the credit union difference to position themselves as unique in this competitive market.” Casselman says gone are the days when credit unions could rely solely on member loyalty, and results driven marketing is more important than ever. He adds that the biggest challenge of community credit unions is the commitment of resources they have to make internally in terms of people and financially in terms of budget because there is a whole matrix of responsibilities when marketing to the general population. He says in the end the board is the key, “if the board has the vision and understands it then the credit union will succeed.” “Members aren’t just turning off or tuning out banker advertisements, so we focus on delivering cost efficient penetrating campaigns to credit unions so they can compete,” said Casselman. “As we tell our clients, if your credit union isn’t growing then it is shrinking even if you stay the same size because others around you are growing. It is especially important for community credit unions because typically they are new to the market.” Positioned as a “total marketing resource”, FMG specializes in marketing community chartered credit unions though customized development and production supervision for print ads, broadcast television and radio spots, Web site development and Internet trafficking, media buying, direct mail, newsletters, brochures, flyers, annual reports, logo design, branding initiatives, Hispanic marketing programs, publicity campaigns and media relations. Casselman keeps his organization lean – working with only two senior account executives Corinne Goble and Michele Willis- and creating strategic alliances with agencies across the country. In addition, dozens of different working relationships at the advertising and freelance levels allows FMG to offer “a unique flexibility that you can’t get with the typical staff araangement.” Alliances offer credit union clients a range of services from enhanced service culture and employee training to incentive and promotional programs. “It is a very nontraditional approach,” said Casselman. “I once had a 140 person staff in an ad agency in Atlanta and all I did every day was manage problems, not business. So here we keep it lean and mean making sure the clients get the most value for their money.” To better determine how to help clients, the firm has developed a 15-point template designed to learn more about the credit union’s culture, philosophy and identify the market. Then the team gets busy developing a program and will work alongside the credit union’s marketing department for three months. Clients who like what they see can then opt to sign an annual retainer. “It is a great way to offer clients a trial run, and once they see that we serve as a resource from working with their existing marketing and management teams to taking care of the day-to-day marketing responsibilities if they don’t have a marketing team, they usually sign up,” said Casselman. In addition to constantly checking short and long term goals, the firm helps identify marketing opportunities such as making the most of credit union Web sites, transforming them into virtual branches and creating roads and signs on the Internet to bring members in. For example, the next time consumers type in auto loan or free checking in a search engine it could generate a link to the credit union or enhancing Web pages to include video streams. Casselman says FMG also helps track results through a variety of methods to better tailor solutions. The firm typically helps community credit unions in the $100 to $500 million in assets range and at any one time can be working on some 60 to 100 different projects. The three-person team works closely with agency partners and top freelancers across the country to ensure projects adhere to Casselman’s cardinal rule of “on time, on budget and on personality-meaning it has to fit the credit union’s culture”. Proof that it is making waves, FMG has recently inked a deal with CUNA as its official partner for advertising agencies. FMG will be working actively with them to help credit unions that need this type of service. The firm is also in talks with Dollar & Associates to serve as a consultant on business development. “We feel honored that CUNA approached us and ultimately selected us,” said Casselman. “Only about 20-30% of consumers say credit unions are their primary financial institution- we want to help raise that.” [email protected]

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