Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: new year (page 1 of 2)

Are You Saying The Year Wrong?

Around New Years, one thing is said more than during other months: The year. “See ya later, 2015! Hellloooo, 2016!” You get the idea. So what?

It’s possible you’ve been saying it wrong. And I’m telling.

Say 2000 out loud. I can’t hear you! That’s better. Now, 2001 (A Space Odyssey). Ok, try 2008. Did you notice a similarity between each year? More likely than not, you said, “two thousand *number*”. Yet, if you were to read 1804, your internal voice did not present it as, “one thousand eight-hundred and four”. It saw the number, “eighteen oh four.” Here’s the cool part (Well, if Oxford commas sound cool to you, this will also. If not, you should have stopped reading long ago. Now you’re in it for the long haul!). Say the current year. Both ways. Yes, it’s comfortable whether you use “thousand” or “twenty”. Why is that? And was this the case at every hundred (or even thousand) year mark? It adds a new perspective to human history.

I have an idea why we can get away with both readings today. Acclimation. Because going from the nineteen hundreds to the twenty hundreds sounds pretty uneventful, it was reframed as the two thousands. Remember Y2K and the digital nightmare which ensued? Exactly, because there wasn’t one. Nonetheless, as a result, few referred to the year 2000 as “twenty-hundred”. If you did, now is the time to speak up. That deserves a special Twitter and LinkedIn call-out.

Looking to the future, I’m betting we will move towards a twenty-something expression of the year. Why? Those born after the turn of the century will have no frame of reference for anything else. Given the readings of 1865 (end of the Civil War), 1492 (date when some horrible person got lost and thought he found India), and 1815 (birth year of Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer), few would say them as, “one thousand, eight-hundred, sixty five”, “one…”, well, you get the idea. I think the year two thousand was a rarity, probably not to be seen again until three thousand. There was an irresistible cool factor of living in the year two thousand (In The Year 2000!), while twenty-hundred sounds a bit…uncomfortable.

So what?

What else are you acclimated to which others may not have such comfort? Perhaps it’s how your lending program is run at the credit union. Or that your phone system still insists on telling callers to listen carefully, since the menu options have recently changed (get rid of this, now). Though there may be a few ways of “doing it right”, one will be comfortable for your members, while others might force them into a position where they aren’t familiar. Twenty-five years ago, it was a given you’d be using checks regularly, now, how many people under 20 even know how to write one?

In 2016, look at every area of your institution from a different perspective. One which thinks “twenty hundred” and doesn’t understand why you’d even offer paper statements mailed.

Happy New Year!

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Holiday Wishes – Geekified

As another year comes to a close, I’d like to take this opportunity to send my best wishes out into the credit union industry…and beyond! (Geekification #1: Toy Story)

It’s been an incredible year for credit unions and their members. With unprecedented gains and continued membership growth, the industry is poised for a surge into new avenues. Understanding events occur in cycles (Calm Before the Storm, anyone?), we are thrilled for the success already had, and look forward to implementing processes to ensure growth no matter what the markets may throw.

The Doctor once said, “We all change, when you think about it, we’re all different people; all through our lives, and that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.” (Geekification #2) Think back to the end of 2014. What has changed since then? About you? About your members? Or your credit union? If you can acknowledge it’s all for the better, fantastic! (Geekification #3: 9th Doctor’s catchphrase) Take the good with the bad, and create something greater from the parts.

Leaning into 2016, we’re on the precipice of great changes. For the first time since their creation, the credit union (and banking) industry is undergoing fundamental evolution. Rest on your laurels during this new chapter at your own risk. Remember that credit unions and banks is not Hogwarts versus Voldemort (Geekification #4), but rather, a closer interaction akin to Harry and Draco (Geekification #5), where they only believe themselves to be enemies. At the end (spoilers!, which also could be Geekification #6), they realize that they are quite similar, only separated by a different upbringing, and work together towards a unified goal.

For everyone celebrating throughout this month, I wish you a Happy (post) Hanukkah, Festivus, Christmas, Saturnalia, Kwanzaa, New Year, or whatever brings friends and family together! In the words of the Avengers…Assemble! (Geekification #7)

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Would You Discuss It Over Holiday Dinner?

Originally published on with title “Do your credit union members care?”

The tree is down, the menorah is stored for the season, and you’re just about finished with all those leftovers. It’s back to work, to the grind, as many would say.

Happy 2015! You spent all that time in October planning to make this year ever-better. Goals are set. Initiatives are drafted. Marketing is tailored. All that’s left is to make it happen.

But wait, there is a potential issue. One which looms deep in the psyche of…oh it’s not that complicated! Here you go: Do your members care? Seriously, with distractions like the latest Terminator film trailer, the final Hobbit film, and the Consumer Electronics Show featuring drool-worthy products to come in the next 12 months; why would they care about your programs?

During the holidays, we spend time with friends and family. Conversations are unique to this environment. Despite your better judgment, nothing is off the table. Maybe it’s the free-flowing eggnog, I don’t know. However, for better or worse, every chat is interesting.

Which brings us back to your credit union’s 2015 plan. Goals aren’t sexy, but how you get there can be. Would your strategies merit holiday dinner table conversation?

Here are some off-beat ideas:

  • Easter Egg in your mobile app that randomly pops up a custom birthday message (and adds $5 to their savings account as your gift)
  • Adopting seasonally-appropriate characters to voice your phone system…I’d share if Dracula told me the local branch hours
  • E-mail or mail out a certificate commemorating CU membership on their anniversary

Sure, they won’t compare to Aunt Mae’s (fifth) retelling of when she met Mick Jagger in 1968, but, really, what could? Attention spans are short and expectations are high. How can you creatively connect with your members that will become their own oft-repeated holiday story?

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