Posts Tagged ‘Trey Reeme’

Thick Pepsi

March 23, 2010

Sarah Snell Cooke recently wrote an blog post for CU Times advocating that credit unions drop the term credit union from their names. A while before that, Trey Reeme wished credit unions could be called Cooperative Banks. And in the time since EverythingCU was founded, in 2000, a number of credit unions have indeed dropped the term credit union from public view, such as DFCU Financial.

Is this a good idea? A bad idea? A who-cares-what-you-are-called idea?

It might be instructional to watch this re-enactment of a top-secret Tokbox video memo that the VP of Marketing of Coca-Cola created and sent to the executive management team last year:

Social Media Marketing Best Practice: Bridge the gap

September 10, 2008

For those of us who have been involved in the online world for more than a few years, the latest incarnation of the web is pretty exciting stuff. The connections and interactions via blogs, podcasts, twitter, Facebook, Flickr, friendfeed, YouTube, etc, brings us closer together with other people on the other side of the country, the other side of the world, or even in our own neighborhood in ways that have never been possible before.

There is some awareness of the echo-chamber nature of the social media world, but I’m not at all worried about that, mainly because the rate of adoption of these tools is picking up speed. I wonder how many people in the television industry were worrying about the rate of television adoption in the early 60s?

But when creating a social media marketing campaign, one has to remember that not everyone is connected using these tools, and even if they are, they’re not necessarily aware of you, or the fact that you’ve got some cool things happening online.

So another best practice: bridge the gap between social media and face-to-face interactions. I recently went to a restaurant in Boston with a sticker in the window that read “People love us on Yelp”. I had actually found the restaurant because I used the Yelp iPhone application to give me a restaurant recommendation near my current location.

Having the Yelp sticker in the window accomplishes two things: It welcomes Yelpers who arrive to the restaurant for the first time, making them feel special and at home. It also may create curiosity in non-Yelpers to check out that web site. And creates awareness for Yelp at the same time. This is a great example of bridging the gap, even when your virtual company has little or no physical presence.

Example number two of bridging the gap: One of the hottest social media campaigns, inside the credit union world or out, is Young and Free. The first incarnation launched in Alberta, Canada. Now there’s a sister campaign that has launched in Houston. One of the neatest aspects of getting this off the ground is the amazing Go Mobile/Guitar Hero/Info truck that Trey is driving around from event to musical event. Many young folks in the target demographic are using social media and networking tools, but they wouldn’t necessarily come across the campaign unless there is some bridge from their world to finding the CU’s social media site. This fun, tricked-out truck, which is camping out at events that young folks are at fits the bill perfectly.

What marketing efforts do you see that nicely bridge the gap between the online and physical worlds?

Social Media Marketing Best Practice: Use multiple media

September 9, 2008

Continuing Mitch Joel’s excellent suggestion to write about social media marketing best practices, today’s post is about the differences in media.

The social media universe now includes many, many types of web sites and media. It’s not just about blogging. Social media includes podcasting, videocasting, networking, photo sharing, instant messaging, and texting. And importantly, it includes dialog in all of these media.

Blogging still figures importantly for a variety of reasons. The written word can be powerful, and importantly, most people can respond and give feedback via a blog, which is not as true for other media. Also, reading the written word is much faster for most people than listening to a podcast or watching a videocast of the same information.

There are some people who are tied to the blogging and the written word. While there may be valid reasons for blogging, a social media marketing campaign will have greater reach and participation if other media are also incorporated. Just as some people prefer to create in a certain media, (written word, audiocast, videocast), people also prefer to “consume” in certain media. And many people consume different media depending on the situation. Some people access the internet in the evenings at home, and enjoy watching video clips. Others like to listen to information on their commute, so prefer audio versions. Yet other folks scan the internet while at work and want information in written form so that they can read and digest the information they are seeking quickly.

Once you have developed your core message, adapt it to the nuances of each of these very different presentation media. Written word, video, and audio media are all different, and each should be utilized properly. After all, we wouldn’t use a TV ads’ audio for a radio commercial– a radio commercial needs to be created knowing that there are no visuals to go with the audio.

For those discovering this meme, and want to learn more, here are other outstanding contributions:

I have been remiss in tagging others to add to this meme. I tag William Azaroff, Aaron Strout, Tim McAlpine, and Trey Reeme.

Showdown, Texas-style

August 12, 2008

On Sunday night, I found out why Trey Reeme has been very quiet on the credit union/social media scene since the beginning of the year. It’s because he’s been working to bring Tim McAlpine and Currency Marketing’s Young & Free Alberta campaign to Trey’s new credit union, TDECU (fka Texas Dow Employees’ CU). This news was twittered very quickly Sunday night, with Bryan Sims being the first outsider to discover it the night before the official launch.

Yesterday, launch day of Young & Free Texas, it has been blogged by William Azaroff and Trey Reeme, Tim McAlpine, and Ben Rogers, and reported by CU Times, Reuters, and Forbes.

This exciting news, the Young & Free campaign’s launch and license for the first time in the United States, was tempered with the news that another credit union in Texas has copied (emulated?) the Young & Free concept (reported by The Financial Brand), in most, if not all, details.

This brings up the issue of financial institution branding in the internet age.

In the old days, it was easy. There was no way someone in Alberta, Canada would ever encounter something from Houston, Texas. And only traveling professionals would have regular visits between Houston (HQ area of TDECU) and Dallas (HQ of Resource 1 CU). But the internet has changed all that. With three clicks of a mouse, someone can view Young & Free Alberta, Young & Free Texas, and Resource 1 CU’s MyLifeMyMoney . And in fact, googling “Young Free” today yields the Alberta campaign as the first two results, and William Azaroff’s blog post about the Texas launch near the bottom of the page.

MyLifeMyMoney could suffer the same fate as the stellar BBC sitcom “Coupling” when it was translated from British to American TV. Coupling has six main characters, three men and three women, and the series explores the humor of their personal lives, and male/female dating and stereotypes. The BBC original is delightful, unexpected, and original. When Friends ended its 11-year hit run, NBC needed something to replace it, and purchased an American version of Coupling. But rather than re-interpret the British version in an American style, it simply copied the BBC original, line for line. The only difference was the American actors, and a few changed words such as ‘lorry’ to ‘truck’. Whether or not you had seen the British original, the American version stunk. It was flat. It had no sparkle, no charm, no pizzazz, all the things which made the British version wonderful. Even though 99% of American audiences had no idea that it was a copy of a show across the pond, no one watched it, and it was promptly cancelled.

This is what Resource 1 CU’s MyLifeMyMoney is. Nearly identical in most regards (spokesperson contest, online voting, etc), just changing the words and switching the graphics. Copying the surface, without understanding the depth. The first difference I see in MyLifeMyMoney is the declaration that the campaign is aimed at 18-35 year olds. What an 18 year-old and a 35-year old have in common is that they eat and breathe. And not much else. (A smart credit union marketing professional recently updated her Facebook status saying 30 is too old to come up with effective marketing strategies for the 18 to 21 age group. When will financial institutions understand that a.) it’s not about age and b.) even if it is about age, you don’t need to say it in your ads — Hey you! If you are between the ages of 26 and 34, pay attention because this ad is aimed at your wallet! Otherwise, never mind and go away!) MyLifeMyMoney also uses generic, cheesy, typical stock photography showing happy white people who could be anywhere. There is nothing that says “Texas” or local about these generic images, which is in stark contrast to Young & Free. Another social media misstep is that blog posts on the site are unsigned. Nothing says “corporate” more than faceless blog postings.

The final area where MyLifeMyMoney seems to fall short is that the actual value that a young person gets is unclear. On the surface it seems like a bunch of fancy names for services the credit union offers anyway. Free online banking? Who doesn’t offer that? Free live call center? Free ATM deposits? Free drive thru? Free direct deposit? Does ANY FI charge for these things? Free 8 locations? What, if you are older, you are charged for walking into a branch? Thud.

Resource 1 CU appears to have copied the surface appearance of Young & Free, while making mistakes on critical social media aspects.

In contrast to the hit BBC show “Coupling”, the BBC hit sitcom “The Office” made the leap across the Atlantic very differently than Coupling’s straight-out copy. The Office retained the name and core concept in translation, but was completely re-interpreted in an American style. And the results have been a runaway success on both sides of the pond. This is my hope for Young & Free’s translation south of the 49th parallel.

However, even Young & Free Texas has the potential to be less successful than Young & Free Alberta. As I mentioned, googling Young Free results in the Young Free Alberta site showing for the first two results. How will this be resolved? What is the best that Young Free Texas can hope for? Five Alberta results and five Texas results? What kind of confusion is that going to create in young potential members? What are young people going to think when they see Alberta videos mixed in with Texas videos on YouTube? Never mind the potential confusion that will occur once other states join the fray. Are Texans going to take kindly to the fact that they are second-class citizens, copying the magic that is occurring in Alberta? Texans have built their brand on being the biggest and best. Texans don’t take kindly to being second-fiddle at ANYTHING. You can’t hide things on the internet. Texans WILL find Young Free Alberta. The questions are how much, how often, and will they care? Because I like both Tim and Trey so much, and I love the Young & Free campaign and everything Larissa has done as Spokester, I would like to see them and Young & Free be successful in Texas as well. I even thought about NOT writing about Resource 1’s version of Young and Free. But that would be not accomplish anything. It’s on teh INTER-NETS. It’s out there for EVERYONE to see. Everyone can see the strategy of Resource 1. It’s not like if I don’t write about it that it will go away. It’s already out there. (A video from Larissa/Young & Free Alberta shows up as the third ‘related video’ result on YouTube when viewing the MyLifeMyMoney spokester search explanation video.

Young & Free Alberta’s success is definitely not solely due to Larissa Walkiw’s talent and charm. Young & Free Alberta has three primary success factors going for it: 1.) It’s completely new and innovative; no financial institution has ever done anything like this. 2.) The CU has a unique product (free checking) which no other F.I. has in Alberta. 3.) The campaign gives young people a true voice, not only through spokesperson Larissa, but through the unique Albertan events that Larissa covers in person and shoots videos and blogs about.

Young and Free Texas will have number three on the above list, but will not have number one, and number two is questionable. I’m not sure how the Go2Account stacks up against not only what TDECU offers, but against other FIs in Texas. I’m not sure what Dual Checking and Savings accounts mean, but checking accounts are already free at TDECU.

Will Young & Free Texas equal the success of Young & Free Alberta without a clearly compelling and differentiating product? Will Resource 1 CU learn enough on the fly about social media to make MyLifeMyMoney successful and be able to overcome the lack of a differentiating product?

Update: Now that I have listened to Trey’s phone conversation with Mark McSpadden, I have learned that Trey acknowledges 1.) The hope that Young & Free Texans commune with Young & Free Albertans and any other future Young & Free’ers and 2.) that he and TDECU decided to proceed with launching Young & Free Texas despite not being able to launch the corresponding youth product in the way that they had wanted. However neither of these points is apparent (or matters) to outsiders or the target audience.

Blahg Blahg Blahg Blahg-I’m sick of hearing about Blahgs!

January 27, 2008

It is truly fun to see the mini-firestorm of discussion that this meme of “to blog or not to blog” has generated. (Trey Reeme guesting on CUES Skybox, Tim McAlpine – Currency Marketing, Ron “the Shevlinator” Shevlin, Gene Blishen – Tinfoiling, Currency Marketing again, CU Skeptic, Lisa Hochgraf – Nexus Connection, and right here)

To all of this, I further say, “You are mostly likely already blogging, you just don’t know it.”

To understand why, let’s start by breaking down exactly what a blog is.

At it’s simplest, a blog is simply a web log. (web log = blog. get it?) When my son was born at the very end of 1998, I wanted to post pictures of him online for my family, spread out all over the country, to see. Neither Flickr nor blogging had been popularized yet. So I dutifully uploaded pages and wrote html code in Adobe GoLive. This got complicated when new pictures required new pages, and then they needed to be linked back to older pages. In fact, it grew so wearily tiresome that I stopped this whole effort after about a year and a half. And I couldn’t tell if my family was even paying any attention.

Fortunately, some sharp people realized that they were not the only ones having this kind of dilemma. The need for easily updateable sequential web pages was readily apparent, and the concept of blogging really started to pick up steam with early adoptors in 2003-04 (though blogging goes back even earlier.)

So at it’s simplest, that is what a blog is…. a web site where adding new content is a snap.

Over the last many years, blogging has come to mean much more than that. Bloggers realized the value of communicating with others, and comments on new entries were introduced. Building on that idea, trackbacks were born, which let bloggers know when other bloggers wrote about their blog. This enabled good and/or hot content and ideas to be spread far and wide rapidly.

Here are some CU examples of web pages which may as well be a blog. These pages have all the aspects of a blog, without any of the ease, convenience, or connectedness of a blog.
Mountain America CU Press Releases
Tracy CU What’s New
UFirst FCU Community page
UW CU Press Release Library
Meijer CU Community Activities

And this list is just right off the top of a couple web searches. Nearly EVERY web site could benefit from having at least some of it’s content bloggified.

To be fair, blogging has come to mean far more than simply making serial content available. When most people say blogging, they are talking about holding conversations out in the open, with the potential for the entire online public to be watching. While I think that all credit unions ought to embrace talking with their member/owners, those that are reluctant to do that can, at the very least, dip their toes in the water by making the articles of their newsletters available in blog format. For the very faint of heart, this could even be done with comments disabled.

But wait a minute, as a credit union, don’t you WANT to hear back from your members? Don’t you want to better know how you can serve them? Or is being member-owned merely words on paper to avoid being taxed? Why don’t you want to make member-owned mean more than that? I mean, all savvy FOR-PROFIT businesses want to get feedback from their customers, so that they can serve them better. Why wouldn’t a not-for-profit cooperative want to embrace that kind of feedback even more so than a for-profit company? You’ve got double the incentive…. both from the customer aspect of the relationship as well as the owner aspect of the relationship.

Let’s also look at a couple of companies that realize fresh content is king and made a blog the centerpiece of their web site. The first that comes to mind is Tom Peters, and for a CU example, look no further than the Filene Research Institute.

Bottom line – you are already blogging, you just didn’t know it. May as well use the right tools for the job that will simply your life and make it easier.

Interview with Trey Reeme

January 25, 2008
Morriss Partee interviews Trey Reeme, now Channel Integration Manager for TDECU in Houston, TX. In the photo, Trey is on the left, and Morriss is on the right. Recorded on Friday, January 11, 2008, while Trey was in Lake Jackson, TX (near Houston), and Morriss was in Holyoke, MA. Trey’s new blog can be found here:

The impetus for this interview was Trey’s leaving Trabian, a web-design company specializing in serving CUs, after being with the company for four start-up years, to work on the other side of the table for TDECU, a $1 billion, 107,000 member CU in Lake Jackson, TX. Inquiring minds wanted to know why, and what Trey is planning next.

Audio post uploaded by mmpartee using Utterz. mp3

How many CUs should be blogging?

January 24, 2008

It has been fascinating to follow discussion on why more credit unions are not blogging several years after blogging became somewhat mainstream. The earliest reference I read was Trey Reeme’s post on CUES’ Skybox blog, one and a half years ago. More recently, Tim McAlpine in Vancouver asks CUs if they will blog for the money if not the love, which then got Shevled by the Shevlinator. The following message is partly aimed in response to Ron, who I think needs a trip to America’s CU Museum in Manchester, New Hampshire. (It’s only 51 minutes away from your office, Ron…. looking forward to joining you there on April 5 for BarCampBank NewEngland.)

Ron has some outstanding points to consider in developing an online strategy. Yes, a marketing person should always consider the broader strategic picture and figure out if/how blogging may or may not fit into that. Especially if you work at a large bank, where ROI is watched like a hawk.

But Ron is himself missing the bigger picture when it comes to credit unions. Namely, what is the purpose of a credit union? Why were they founded? These questions are even more on the forefront of my mind since I made a presentation last week to Lehigh Valley Educators CU in Allentown, Pennsylvania on the history of the credit union movement, and how their credit union fits into that amazing one hundred year history. (Yes, this is our centennial year in the United States.)

What is the major difference between banks and credit unions, besides lower loan rates, higher savings rates, lower or no fees, etc. (which is not even true in many cases nowadays)? It’s the self-governance, the fact that I personally can be elected to the Board of Directors. Since the Board equals .00001% of the total membership, most people never actually get to serve on the Board. But in theory, the Board is there to serve my needs and best interests. Prior to the internet age, there was no practical way that Average Jane Concerned Member could communicate with Elected Board Representative Wiseone. Now, via blogs, not only is that possible, it is possible to hold those conversations out in the open. Why wouldn’t Board members want to invite participation from their members? Why wouldn’t they want to discuss policy openly? Why wouldn’t you want to find out from the members themselves what it is they want in THEIR financial institution?

Ginny Brady is doing that with the Boardcast. But she is the lone voice out of 8,000+ CU boards. (Multiply that by an average of about 9 directors per board, and she is one in 72,000.)

It’s not easy being a Board member. It’s an unpaid position, and mostly thankless. Most members don’t realize that.

Most members feel disenfranchised from the institution. They feel it’s faceless, and that “it” doesn’t care about them. So why should they keep their accounts there or feel anything special towards it? By keeping policy decisions behind closed doors, Boards and CUs are perpetuating that the institution doesn’t really care about its members.


You want loyalty from your members? You can’t purchase loyalty. You can only earn it. You want your members to have a relationship with you? That starts with having a relationship with your members.

So how many CUs should be blogging? 100% of them.

(Credit unions that are planning on converting to a bank charter may be excused.)

Let me go out even further out on a limb. Trey and the rest of the gang at Trabian have always been very diplomatic when it comes to the question of blogging and credit unions. They have been very polite by saying you should determine if your culture is READY to blog. I’m going to flip it around.



Now having written some inflammatory remarks, I will back off that statement in three regards: One, because blogs are ‘hot’, I am seeing and hearing talk about blogs where a different form of media/communication is more appropriate, such as an online discussion site. Two, when I say blogs, I really mean open communication with your members. If you are still small enough or still have a focused FOM, and are in regular communication with your members via face-to-face discussions, or other channels, then you don’t need to have a blog. Three, blogging is indeed NOT a be-all, end-all panacea. It’s just one tool in a marketing toolkit. There is still a place for traditional media, as this Fast Company article on how trends happen points out.

But for all the CUs out there that are not growing, that are floundering with a lack of membership growth, that have ‘gone community’, that are looking for direction, you need to start communicating with your members, and not marketing ‘at’ them. And blogs are an exponentially less expensive way of doing that than focus groups.

Scott, William, Trey, Brent, and Shari in SpokaVegas

September 13, 2007

Thursday in Spokane started off with a bang… I bumped into Shari Storm, VP of Marketing for Verity CU, and author of the first blog in CU land. I first met Shari in Suquamish in May. Also in the morning, Scott Bedbury, author of a New Brand World, gave the morning’s opening talk, followed by a great skit orchestrated by Trey Reeme and Brent Dixon. I also got to talk more with William Azaroff, creator of Vancity CU’s Change Everything program. And I was glad that Chuck, Cynthia, Mark, and Gail of United Health Services CU in Spokane had the opportunity to hear Scott Bedbury reinforce the brand principles that we’ve been working with them on since March of this year.

In the afternoon, I was delighted to learn about all of the great things that William’s Change Everything blog is doing in the Vancouver region. Having Vancity Credit Union be naked to the world is not without its challenges, and it was fascinating to learn how he’s dealing with that.

Washington CUs descend upon Spokane

September 12, 2007

After giving a talk about Bringing Your CU into World 2.0 to the Credit Union Association of Oregon in Tigard, I flew up to Spokane to join the festivities at the Washington CU League’s annual convention. Upon checking in at the conference hotel, I immediately recognized Trey Reeme of Trabian and OpenSource CU in the hotel lobby, and said hi before he had to go prepare for his talk the following morning. Trey let me know that Robbie Wright was still up and about, and so I also got to finally meet him in person, as well as fellow Trabian, Brent Dixon. Also in the mix were Matt Vance, Marketing Director for Industrial CU, David Bennett, Director of Public Relations for the league, Benny Haagen, Director of Lending for Educational Community CU in Everett, and Gaye White, Branch Manager at Peninsula Community Federal CU on the Olympic Peninsula.