An Update: From Hanky Panky To The Frankies

While in Connecticut recently visiting with a data processing solutions provider, a company representative showed how biometrics had been deployed, with certain employees needing to use a fingerprint to gain access to certain areas.

Nothing particularly new there. What was interesting was learning that earlier it had experimented with iris scans, but had abandoned that technology despite its 007 coolness. The reason: employees found the process too creepy. Not that the fingerprint-reading technology is all warm and fuzzy-the fingerprint reader also measures the temperature of the digit provided, just in case a bad guy cut that finger off an employee...

While driving through Heber City, Utah recently I spotted an ice cream shop calling itself the "Dairy Keen." No trademark issues there...

While reading through some recent e-mails, I was reminded by a CU Journal reader that it's time to officially announce the call for entries for the second annual Frankie Awards. As unveiled last year, the Frankie Awards recognize credit unions that do the best job of talking about what credit unions are, why they're here, how they work and what they do. In short, credit unions that don't get so caught up in product and serve marketing that they overlook the most important thing they have to market to members and consumers, which is their strongest singular differentiation.

To enter, all you need to do is e-mail me with whatever communication you have used to talk to members and prospects about the credit union-an ad, newsletter copy, the annual report, a brochure, or even a message shared in training with new employees. I need a paragraph or two explaining what you did, why, and any reaction; nothing more formal than that. So take a moment and e-mail me at fdiekmann<at>cujournal.com, and vie to become the winner of the Second Annual Frankie Awards. (Last year's winner was Suncoast Schools FCU in Tampa.)

While in Seattle recently, I had the pleasure of co-hosting the Washington Credit Union League's Spectrum Marketing Awards. The level of all of the work in credit union marketing and advertising competitions across the country has risen noticeably in recent years as credit unions have grown in assets and experimented in new media, yet one of the great delights of these types of events is always the campaign or two that surprise you with just how good they are. Case in point at the Washington league awards, for instance, was the "Locked Eye" TV spot from Seattle Metropolitan CU.

But what was perhaps most worthy of getting some ink is a new award from the league, sort of a Washington version of the Frankie Awards, the "Credit Union Difference Award," a category entrants weren't made aware had been created. Instead, the judges, in reviewing all the work, sought out what my co-presenter, Bob Schumacher, described as work worthy of an "award...to recognize something every credit union professional should focus on every day at work." That is, the credit union that did the best job of effectively communicating the "credit union difference."

Shumacher added, by the way, that every credit union marketer should be familiar with the International Credit Union Operating Principles, and that he had a "strong question" for any marketer unfamiliar with the principles: "How can you make marketing decisions for an organization if you do not know its driving values?"

The inaugural award went to Sound Credit Union and its agency, Jay Ray Communications.

While trying to drive in Sundance, Utah, recently (it's hard to operate the car when you're driving on mountain roads and looking through a camera viewfinder), it was hard not to notice all the signs pointing to local efforts to be sensitive to the environment and to energy efficiency (such as the wind-powered ski lifts). Sundance is the area put on the map after much of it was bought by Robert Redford and he later launched the film festival of the same name. At one point, a woman who works there waved to a passing driver, and said to me, "That was Robert." Apparently eco-friendliness has its limits. If it was Redford, the "Horse Whisperer" also likes his horses under the hood and sucking gas, as he was riding in a Cadillac Escalade...

While in Midway, Utah recently, it was hard not to be impressed by the Annual Management Seminar hosted by America First Credit Union, where growth to $3.4-billion in assets and 399,000 members is apparently no accident.

The credit union has been hosting the Management Seminar since the early 1970s and seeks to bring together its management (69 branch and front-line managers, 40 operations managers, 23 execs and 24 volunteers) to discuss issues and plan for the coming year.

AFCU's assets allows it to bring everyone together offsite for several days, but that shouldn't discourage other credit unions from mimicking the strategy, regardless of where you meet. This year, AFCU themed its meeting "The Leader's Journey." Next year, I'd suggest you follow this leader.

Frank J. Diekmann is Publisher of The Credit Union Journal and can be reached at fdiekmann<at>cujournal.com.