LAS VEGAS-Every business faces a growth paradox, according to John Moore, in that small business must appear larger and large business must appear to provide the service of a smaller operation.

Moore, who has worked in the marketing departments of Starbucks and Whole Foods, made his mark by using less traditional advertising and more advocacy by customers. He told attendees of the California and Nevada CU Leagues' Annual Meeting here the smaller a business is the bigger it must look, but the larger a business is the smaller it must get.

"People need to trust a business will be around tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrows. At the same time, the bigger a credit union is, the smaller it must get. [CEO] Howard Schultz said Starbucks' biggest challenge is to get big but stay small."


Eight Rules To Follow

Moore offered eight rules he said CUs of all sizes can use:

One: Follow "being" strategies, not branding strategies.

Moore said the best brands do not start out with the intent of building a great brand, they have every intention of being a great business.


Two: Tell the story, don't make up a story.

Consumers are cynical and believe advertising contains untruths, Moore said. He urged CU CEOs to make a list of five core beliefs they don't ever want their credit union to compromise. "Put these in a drawer and read the list once every six months or two years," he advised.


Three: A CU's "Brand Story" is more than low rates.

If low rates are the only thing to promote, a credit union cannot differentiate in the marketplace as competitors will match price. Instead, Moore counseled, add an experience and emotionally connect with members. "Right a wrong in the marketplace, such as bank fees."


Four: Focus entails sacrifice.

It is necessary to say no to some ideas. Moore pointed out Whole Foods has a long list of unacceptable ingredients suppliers must honor, which is one reason it does not sell Coca-Cola. "Whole Foods sacrifices sales to stay true to its values. A business becomes more effective by being more selective, concentrating on the things it does really well."


Five: Obsess about the members, never competitors. Products and programs do not grow sales, he said, only members grow sales.


Six: Marketing has two audiences: the members and the employees.

Many times businesses forget about their employees, he said, adding every person on the staff is important to marketing. "Competitors can replicate a credit union's products and programs but never its people. Jazzed employees will jazz members, who in turn will jazz sales."


Seven: Treat employees like they are part of the family.

High employee loyalty leads to high customer loyalty, and employee churn leads to member churn, Moore warned. He offered the example of The Container Store, which believes one great employee is worth three good people, so paying one great person twice as much still comes out ahead.

"Have a test for passion, and the employee that passes that test will deliver great service," he said.

At a Starbucks job interview applicants are asked if they want a cup of coffee, and a "no" answer can lead to an automatic rejection. At Zappos, after their trial period employees are offered $4,000 to leave. Only 10% take the company up on its offer. The rest, Moore pointed out, are truly dedicated to the company and its culture.


Eight: Make the credit union something to believe in.

Henry Ford said a business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. Moore said CUs should change the world by changing the small corner of the world where they are located.

"A good test is, if the credit union went out of business tomorrow, would anyone care? Would employees struggle to find an employer to treat them as well? Would members struggle to find a financial institution that is as good? If not, take a stand, make it a point to change that."

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