America, the land of infinite choice. Boy, does it ever make it hard to stand out!

I attended the first day of the MAC (Marketing Association of Credit Unions) national conference in Seattle on Wednesday with my collegue Michelle. It was only a beautiful two and half hour drive South, so we figured why not check it out?

Here are my take aways:

  1. Less people than I expected! There were only 160 attendees. This really surprised me considering our national Spring conference from our Canadian equivalent, MACU (Marketing Association for Credit Unions), gets more than 200 attendees. With Canada only having 30 million people and 500 credit unions compared to America's 300 million people and 10,000 credit unions, I was surprised. I'm not sure what to make of this.
  2. Holy marketing agencies Batman! There was a tradeshow floor with a couple dozen marketing vendors all vying for attention. There are a lot of very talented agencies dedicating a great deal of their energy to the credit union movement. Bravo! These firms were well represented:
    • Aubrey & Co.
    • Avant Guarde Productions
    • Andermahr & Company
    • Bouchard Marketing
    • Brass Media
    • Creative Brand Communications
    • Data Based Marketing
    • Dobbs & Co.
    • The Lovecchio Agency
    • Market & Sales Logic
    • Member Research
    • Nationwide Marketing Solutions
    • Simon & Associates
    • PSB, The Marketing SuperStore
    • Rakela Company
    • Redbeard Communications
    • Subcat Marketing
    • Weber Marketing Group
  3. We are lucky! We're very fortunate in Canada being pretty much the only specialized credit union marketing agency. When we compete for new business in the credit union world, we have a definite advantage. But in America, wow, it sure is competitive. With all these specialized agencies and the tens of thousands of generalist marketing agency choices, credit union marketers have a daunting task of choosing a partner. Reminds me of the myriad of choices that a consumer has when picking a financial institution—ironic.
  4. We're all in this together! The questions and discussions are universal:
    • How do we compete?
    • How do we differentiate?
    • Is there still a movement going on?
    • How do we grow?
    • Do we need to merge?
    • Do we need a new name?
    • How do we wrestle marketing control away from IT?
    • How do we attract new members?
    • How do we attract youth members?
    • Do we need a MySpace page?
    • How do we get involved in social media?
    • Where is the bathroom?
  5. And, the two most common questions! "Where are you from?" And "What's your asset size?" I swear, this is the equivalent of two dogs meeting for the first time and performing a thorough sniffing! I'm really not sure what to make of this!

Tim