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Full of purpose

The next big marketing thing might be a venerable credit union tradition, just freshly repackaged.

Among the array of presenters and keynote speakers at last May’s National Conference for Canada’s Credit  Unions and trade show in Winnipeg was Porter Gale,  former vice-president of marketing for Virgin America airline.

Gale’s presentation centered around new trends and the latest innovations that organizations are using to build and sustain business in a seemingly endless sea of “the next big thing.” She encouraged credit unionists in the audience to focus on three to four key pillars of their business and use them to build a story that can be better sold to consumers and members. “Have a defined purpose; really know what you’re trying to achieve and what your story is and keep it simple,” says Gale, who has more than 25 years of experience in marketing, business and technology.

Also, Gale told the audience, credit unions must ask their employees “if they know what you stand for; they’re key in helping you sell your story.” She also emphasized the importance of “doing common things in an uncommon way” to help a credit union differentiate itself from others, citing the likes of Apple and Virgin America as examples of companies that succeeded in marketing their products in unorthodox ways. For example, under Gale’s marketing guidance, Virgin America focused on getting a jaded public enthused about flying by streamlining the often-onerous check-in procedures, offering in-flight Wi-Fi, mood lighting, touchscreen control panels for ordering food and beverages and comfy leather seating. These superior experiences were formulated as a result of listening to and connecting with customers via social media, Gale says.

The execution of such distinct marketing efforts, notes Gale, is reliant on the employees and their belief in the business. “Fight mediocrity. Don’t settle or be complacent. Encourage your employees to think outside the box and really believe in your business’s message. They’re the ones who can help you become ‘uncommon’ in the eyes of your members,” says Gale, who has been awarded the Changing the Game Award by The Advertising Women of New York (AWNY), was on AdAge’s Digital Hotlist, iMedia’s Top 25-Digital Marketers list and was named a Digital Passionista by The Huffington Post.

In keeping with Gale’s message of creating an engaging story that resonates with the public, the Canadian Credit Union Association (CCUA) launched a new national brand program this past May that identifies the defining principles of Canada’s credit unions, highlighting how they can deliver on what Canadians are really looking for. The premise and tagline of the campaign is, “You First, Banking Second” and sets a clear precedent for how credit unions are different from other financial businesses. “We are so excited to launch this new campaign,” says CCUA CEO Martha Durdin.

“Our research has confirmed that the one thing Canadians are looking for — focus on people above all — is also what sets credit unions apart. So, our new campaign will show Canadians we can meet their needs, while also complementing and aligning with messaging from individual credit unions across the country.”

The campaign will run mostly online at and will heavily emphasize social media messaging. All the marketing collateral for the campaign focuses on member-centric imaging, with one example — among many — showing a sculpted statue of a dog with messaging that reads, “Your Passion First. Banking Second.” The ultimate goal is for this campaign to increase awareness of credit unions, while also educating Canadians about the benefits of banking with a credit union. ◊