Hey! Listen up! One person wants you to realize, no, really realize, that you are likely pulling a Bill Buckner. Looking right past a giant opportunity so close to your nose it's practically leaving a mark. Not answering that loud knock on the door that is all but knocking it from the hinges.
And you're making this blimp of a blunder even though this would-be good fortune screams the most popular word ever uttered in all of Credit Union Land: free.
"We have touted ourselves for more than 75 years as being cooperative," observed Troy Smith. "But the one thing we have always been lousy at doing is being collaborative."
And standing there at the intersection of Lousy and Overlooked right now are five words, according to Hall: "Everyday is Bank Transfer Day."
If that phrase or just the words "Bank Transfer Day" have you rolling one eye while the other looks over to see what else is on the site, Hall, who is COO with South Carolina FCU, thinks it's time to get both of your eyes examined.
Grab Those Horns
Just because Bank Transfer Day occurred on Nov 5, 2011, that doesn't mean it was all over on Nov. 6 or even in 2011, stresses Hall, who is spirited and articulate in urging credit unions to grab the horns of a market bull that's new to the rodeo.
That's what South Carolina FCU sought to do in 2011 when it trademarked the phrase, "Everyday is Bank Transfer Day." But it then did the credit union thing, the cooperative thing-and also ensured Walmart, insurance companies and other providers couldn't snag it-by transferring ownership of that trademark to CUNA so that all credit unions can use it. And that's what Hall wants CUs to do: use it.
"You have the opportunity to take this to the next level, and we can do something together as a credit union move-ment, and that means moving forward," said Hall, who spoke to a group of credit unions last week as part of CO-OP Financial Services' THINK 12 Conference. "Every self-respecting financial guru has been pointing to credit unions for the past four to five months. Our barriers to entry have always been 'I have to join,' or 'Where do I go? That conversation is still present, but it's not the barrier any longer. If there's going to be a barrier to entry, it's us when we fail to take action."
The action Hall wants every CU to take is to take the "Day" out of the Bank Transfer phrase. "Our first thought was why should it just be a day; it should happen all the time."
"We created it as a rallying cry. It's a branding overlay. The beauty of this is there is no cost, no special colors, no fonts, no graphics. You just use the phrase with the trademark," said Hall. "If we can get credit unions to begin leveraging this conversation we are going to be more than 'The Incredible, Edible Egg'."
Hall's observations were reinforced two days later when researcher Neil Goldman shared focus group video with the THINK meeting showing Florida consumers completely unaware of what credit unions are or where to find them, with several people actually suggesting there be common language or signage.
In South Carolina, the effort now include 48 of the state's 76 CUs that are using the branding overlay in all their materials. In the Carolina to the North, a joint collaboration is also underway. Not surprisingly, for an event that began with Kristen Christian's frustrated Facebook posting, social media is a big part of what's going on in South Carolina. Every Monday between now and October, South Carolina Federal is sending out social media messages and urging other CUs to join it, with everyone using the nd we're asking all credit unions to do it, and we're using the hashtag "#BTDNow." It has declared October as Bank Transfer Month in its home state, avoiding November due to the noise from the national elections.
"This is where we are and this is the opportunity that we have. Next for us is to be part of a collaborative effort," said Hall. "Whether you're $10-billion or $10-million, you don't have to make up a special marketing program. You just need the branding overlay. That keeps the conversation alive. Let's not let this conversation be a moment where we blinked."
Looking to join that conversation and collaborate? You can get more information at www.BTDNow.org.
Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at email@example.com.