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How Credit Union Marketers Can Prioritize and Innovate in 2021

Amber Fielder on The Remarkable Credit Union podcast

I’d say that this year has gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, wouldn’t you? As turmoil and uncertainty persist as the “new normal,” you’re likely still finding yourself pulled in even more directions than usual.

Over the last year, you have had to communicate multiple urgent messages to members, find ways to continue selling products, market new relief products and services, and scramble to enhance your suite of online tools to better serve members remotely—just to name a few.

Amber Fielder, VP of Marketing at USE Credit Union (a PixelSpoke client) and past Board Chair of the Marketing Association of Credit Unions (MAC), joins our Remarkable Credit Union podcast to address this month’s BIG question:

Where should credit union marketers be focusing their efforts in 2021?

Amber talks about how the events of the last year have driven more innovation in the loan product space; why product innovation should be everyone’s lane (and why we should all be driving in it); how to create meaningful, long-term results even amidst uncertainty; and why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a critical core competency for credit unions.
 

 

Key takeaways

  • Most product innovation right now is happening around loan products, which have been an area of challenge over the past year. The best product innovations address a real member pain point and drives real business results.
  • Marketers need to support product innovation by thinking about the end-to-end member experience, not just the risk. Creating that innovation means not taking “no” for an answer, and rather being persistent, pushing for lots of little yeses along the way to the big Yes.
  • We should all be driving product innovation together. 2020 proved that we can shift and innovate, and now’s our chance to rise to the moment and make meaningful leaps forward. We all said we couldn’t work from home, but we proved that we can. What else are we unwilling to question that could move us forward?
  • There has been lots of progress when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry, but there is still so much more opportunity. To be true to the mission of serving the underserved, this is a critical core competency credit unions need and an area where marketers can lead that effort. If you are feeling stuck, bringing in an outside consultant can really help, and there are a lot of good ones in the industry.
  • For Amber, her MBA in sustainability helps her stay focused on people, planet, and profits in everything she does. It’s a powerful lens for a credit union marketer to really lead meaningful results in the organization.

Read the full transcript here:

Cameron:
Hello and welcome to another episode of The Remarkable Credit Union Podcast. We created our podcast to help credit union leaders think outside of the box about marketing, technology and community impact. Each episode we bring on expert guests from inside and outside of the industry for conversations about innovation. Our goal is to challenge your preconceptions about business as usual and provide you with actionable takeaways that you can use to grow your membership, improve the financial health of your cooperative and magnify your positive impact in the community. Today’s big question. What is the word on the street about where credit union marketers should be focusing their time in 2021? Today, I’m very excited to welcome Amber Fielder. Dare I call her my friend. We’ll see if she agrees. She is the VP of Marketing at USE Credit Union. She’s held the marketing positions at a couple other billion dollar plus credit unions.

Cameron:
We’ve had the privilege of working with Amber to build websites to of these credit unions. She’s been just a wonderful person to work with and a great source of both joy and wisdom. Amber is also the immediate past chair and a current board member of the Marketing Association of Credit Unions, a network of credit union marketers across the country that does trainings, webinars, networking events holds an annual conference and awards competition. Amber is also an avid hiker and is a Cub scout den leader. And last, but certainly not least, Amber I was joking, she has an eight year old son who she loves greatly and he has given her the gift throughout the entire pandemic of being his remote learning teachers assistant, principal and activities coordinator. Amber, thanks for joining us.

Amber:
Thank you so much for having me. I do think it’s safe to say friend, I feel like we’ve made it past that so…

Cameron:
You never know, it’s always really awkward if you’re like, “no” but I would understand, I wouldn’t hold that against you. All right. So I’d love to start with the Marketing Association of Credit Unions. You have so much direct experience as a marketing professional but tell us about the Marketing Association of Credit Unions, what it is and why you first got involved.

Amber:
Well, I joined the credit union industry back in 2013. I’ve been boss, turned mentor, taught me to get as involved as humanly possible and really impressed that to make it in the industry, you had to really go all in. I do now know that that was a setup. She was ending her time on the back board and she had tapped me as her replacement but I took her advice and put my name in the hat, got elected and really never turned back. At the time, I didn’t know much about what MAC really stood for. I knew that it was the only credit union marketing association that was run completely by credit union marketers or credit union marketers. And as I dug in, I found out so much more, the conferences are like reunions, we’re a family, we learn together, we have fun together. And we really gripe about finding the same solutions to the same problems together. MAC is about networking and building relationships and I really couldn’t be more proud than I am with the work that I do serving the industry through MAC.

Cameron:
And you guys recently held your mini MAC conference in November, which replaced your annual in-person conference. I know that was a lot of work, but I would love to know, what are the big themes that marketers are focusing on in 2021 as we start to recover when they come out of both the recession and the pandemic?

Amber:
Well, the recession and pandemic really shined a light on some of the shortcomings, we were all hoping to fix before they really became obvious. We’re always looking for ways to continue making those connections. Credit unions often use our ability to build relationships, really is our key differentiator. And that is so much harder when your branches aren’t necessarily as open as they used to be or people aren’t as eager to come in. Digital transformation has been thrown around and work towards throughout the industry for years, now’s really put up or shut up time. So we’re all trying to make it happen the right way. I think we’re all looking for ways to connect meaningfully through technology and as credit unions, we’ve always done a lot on tight budgets, but now we’re in a place where we need to do even more with even less. New and innovative ways to do grassroots outreach are now a necessity because our budgets have been impacted by the recession.

Amber:
So overall, I see marketers trying to find ways to work smarter and put the technology in place, to get the really big impact. Which leads me to one final, really big fame I’ve seen as loan growth. I think we’ve all seen a pretty steady influx of deposits as consumer spending has declined, but we’ve also seen some pretty creative products come out of the big banks that bundle consumer need with flexibility like CITI, they did a flex loan that allows you to draw a part of your credit line and use it as a fixed rate personal loan. I think as credit union marketers, we’re looking for those ways to adapt, to make sure we’re providing the products our members want that flexibility and the overall member experience.

Cameron:
And so is… I mean, this is funny. I just got off a call talking to a new client who was talking about how hard it was to hit their loan goals right now. So that’s the theme I’m hearing from everyone is particularly, it seems like stimulus and this influx of deposit dollars is how to drive loan growth in the new environment.

Amber:
I’m hearing that more often than not. Everyone I’ve talked to, every data analysts that I’ve brought in to talk about what’s new and the trends in the industry. They said, they’re hearing that from all other credit needs as well, that we’re really struggling with that loan growth, but it’s just because people aren’t spending the way they were before, they’re sitting on that money and smartly saving it so that they can be prepared for what’s to come next.

Cameron:
Yeah, because who knows what’s coming next. Right? My goodness last year, it was one crazy surprise after another [crosstalk 00:05:53]. I made a joke with a friend. We were down by the river in Portland, Oregon where I live and I made some joke and I was like, “I don’t know, I’m expecting a volcano to come out of the river and erupt because we had these catastrophic forest fires and the worst air quality in history.” And my friend looked at me and he was like, “yeah, I’d give it even odds. Who knows what’s next?” What have you learned about marketing overall from being so involved as a leader and a participant in the credit union marketing community? What kind of deep wisdom do you have to share for us?

Amber:
I don’t know how deep it is [crosstalk 00:06:26].

Cameron:
Any kind of wisdom? Sorry. That’s too much pressure. Any kind of wisdom.

Amber:
I think the biggest thing though is that it’s constantly evolving and there’s never one right answer. I think oftentimes as marketers, we get tasked with fixing a problem, whether it’s bringing in new loans or new members, launching a new product or re-imagining the branch experience, our boards want us to tell them the right way to do it and oftentimes, want us to guarantee those results. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is to start early, explaining the nuances and that there isn’t a magic bullet, that marketing is a game of consistency and patience. And to get those longterm results, you have to allow for long-term strategies with a built in expectation that at some point you’ll need to realign and pivot to continue progressing.

Cameron:
Yeah, very well put. I think that tension between the desire for immediate results but long-term results require a long-term strategy. Amen to that. Speaking of strategy, I’d love to know your credit union, USE Credit Union in Southern California. How would you describe your marketing strategy in one sentence?

Amber:
Ambitious and community focused. We’re going into 2021 with some lofty goals but it’s backed by data driven analysis and our overall strategy is to drive meaningful brand awareness within our communities to meet those goals.

Cameron:
Awesome. Do you have any particular tactics or efforts that you’re most excited about related to that strategy in 2021?

Amber:
I think the things that aren’t giving up too much information. We’ve got some really exciting sponsorships going on. I think that’s something that is taking off a little bit more in the industry as a whole, is really working on those community related and community focused sponsorships. We have a couple that I’m very excited about that really focus on how we can be volunteers and present and there with our community and not somebody that’s out here pushing financial products down your throat. So I’m really excited to dive into that. It’s something that’s new for USE. I’ve experienced it in some of my other credit unions but I’m really excited to bring it down here to this market.

Cameron:
It being in long-term.], I think it’s so powerful when we can show that we’re really there and committed to a community or a group or a person for the long haul and not for the immediate transaction that we all need to move our businesses forward.

Amber:
Right. Making those meaningful connections.

Cameron:
Very well put.

Cameron:
So, I would love to know, speaking of meaningful connections, one thing is I was excited to have you on the podcast is you both have this, I don’t know how I would call it, sort of, I’ll say deep expertise. You have this firsthand, you lead all these marketing efforts and have at multiple credit unions, but you really have that broad perspective, as well, from your work with MAC, as well as I’m sure other things you’ve done. I’m curious, what are some of the best marketing campaigns or efforts you saw in 2020 and why do they resonate with you?

Amber:
It’s funny that you bring up MAC because I am now starting to dig into reviewing some of our 2020 MAC awards. And as usual, I’m seeing great work across the board so I’m excited about that and the industry. But the campaigns that have really resonated with me the most are the ones that take what we’re going through into consideration. I’ve seen some really great campaigns geared at supporting essential workers, recognizing our very own essential workers in the branches, as well as a ton of community service focus campaigns, letting our members know that we’re here for them and we care. I’m proud that despite our continued need to push product, the past year, it seems, we took a step back and decided to truly embrace being people and the varying degrees of struggle we’ve all experienced. I think credit unions really stepped up to help our members and it shows in the campaigns that we focused on this year.

Cameron:
And are there anything, do you have, I mean, this crystal ball question, but it seemed like everyone’s marketing strategy was blown up in March of 2020. Do you have any sense as far as areas that folks will be focusing on in 2021 that will really resonate?

Amber:
I think that as marketers, I mean, I guess I can speak for myself, I’m really excited that in 2021, I can hopefully stick a little bit closer to the script. Last year, everything was blown up. We had wonderful plans going into March and then all of a sudden, all of those plants were shut out of the air and we had to come up with something new. I think, we’ve finally gotten our stride and we know how to navigate these waters. We know what’s important to our members and we can focus on that while still focusing on those products. I do think that lending is going to be a really big focus this year when it comes to those products and coming up with ways to innovate, we have to lend to stay in business and right now it’s tough.

Amber:
So I think a lot of the focus is going to be there and how we can do it in a smart way, on a tighter budget without throwing out so many promotions right now with the rate environment as low as it is, it’s really hard to throw out a promo rate that’s going to be attractive because somebody can always go and get a lower rate. I don’t think that that’s where we’re going to be able to compete going into 2021. We’re going to have to be able to compete in innovative ways, with the member experience and making sure that we are showing ourselves as those true people helping people credit unions that we are.

Cameron:
It’s a really kind of walking the walk with the people helping people mission. I actually wanted to go back to, I’m just intrigued, hearing your perspective on 2021, you talked about this product of CITI, which it sounds like it’s a joint line of credit and personal loan. Can you tell me more about that? ‘Cause I do think product innovation is something that is often overlooked as a critical component of marketing success. Can you tell me maybe a little more about that and anything else on your mind when you think about loan product innovation?

Amber:
What I liked most about that product in general was how it truly can be positioned in a way where it’s helpful. You are taking this variable rate product, you’re pulling a portion of it and you’re giving it to your member in a way where it’s now a fixed rate product, it is a personal loan that they have a certain amount of time to pay off. And being able to do that with your lines of credit, I think it offers some of that innovation, it offers some of that flexibility that people are truly looking for. I think the thing that’s really on my mind right now are so many people getting into the credit card space. I think about this Venmo credit card that’s out there now and the fact that this isn’t necessarily a bank, but they’re coming into our space and they’re finding ways to meet their customer’s needs that we typically would have met.

Amber:
And how do we then balance our member experience where we’re giving them the simplicity of a Venmo. But also giving them the products that Venmo now is obviously looking at, “Oh, somebody wants to be able to buy this on credit. They want to be able to tie their credit card into this Venmo account.” How can we then also compete with that and do that for members? I think as marketers, it’s really important that we’re in those discussions with our lending teams, with our operations team, to make sure that we’re thinking about that member experience, that end to end experience and not focused as much on the risk. I think for me, I hear a lot of that where people are cautious about new products because while there’s a risk associated with it but how do we balance that to make sure that we are actually meeting our members’ needs without being too afraid to dabble into those new technologies that our FinTech partners are actually doing.

Cameron:
Something came up for me when you said that, which was, you know, it’s easy for me. I don’t work at a credit union to talk about product innovation. I remember one of the first things I did, I want to say it was back in 2017, but my brain doesn’t recall so well in this exact moment is, I worked with one of the innovation teams at [inaudible 00:14:28] at the Crane Think Tank. And we designed… In essence, it was pretty straightforward. It was building on an existing product, but a tool for basically really simple family to family loans, a way to secure them because it was like a $82 billion market that informal lending between family members. And I remember reaching out to some of our clients and thinking this was the greatest thing, it won first place at [inaudible 00:14:53] little competition.

Cameron:
Why wouldn’t everyone want to do this? And I started getting feedback, like you said, Amber, like risk, we got a lot on our plate. But I also see there was a lot of naivete on my part there, but we’ve got one client in particular, Peninsula Credit Union in Washington State that has really invested in some of these innovative products. So they’ve got the, I think it’s the lift loans where it’s lower interest for timely payments. So if you’ve got bad credit where you make six months of payments on time then they actually start lowering the rate automatically. They had one of those prizes like savings accounts where you save a certain amount of money and you get entered into a drawing for an iPad or something like that. And they just had all these really innovative products that actually drove financial wellness for the member, in the way that a credit card might not. And yet I know there’s huge barriers to saying, how do we get this into a credit union? And I’m curious what your thoughts are and how marketers can maybe think more in the product space and achieve buy-in and success when it’s not just up to the marketer to add a new product.

Amber:
I hate to say it this way, but don’t take no for an answer. The most success I’ve had is meeting that no with a, “well, what if we do it this way” and continuing to beat at it and beat at it until I’m starting to get those yeses. The only way we’ll survive is if we innovate, it is as simple as that. And we’re already in a commoditized market. We have to find ways to meet our members where they are and give them what they want. We hear time and time again that as credit unions, we can’t keep doing things the way they’ve always been done just because that’s the way we’ve done it or that’s the way we know how to do it. And I do think that that message is coming across to executive teams, to boards. I’ve heard my own board talk about it.

Amber:
And I think continuing to reiterate that message, gives us that in to continue having the conversations. I don’t think it’s a one and done conversation. I don’t think it’s something that is going to magically even happen in a year. So if you haven’t been talking about product innovation and you start in 2021, I wouldn’t really expect a new product by the end of the year, just being honest. We move a little bit slower than that. But I don’t think that that is a reason for us as credit union marketers to stop having the conversation, to take that no for an answer and decide to go back over in our lane. I think innovation is one of the only places where I can say, “it’s everybody’s lane. We should all be driving all over the freeway.” It shouldn’t be, “stay in your lane, focus on what your expertise is.” That’s how innovation happens. It’s us not focusing on our one area but thinking about what would work for us that other areas could then find ways to make it work.

Cameron:
Yeah. I love that. It definitely should be everyone’s lane. It’s not going to happen if it’s outsourced to a person. I think… I mean, Amber, there’s probably a bit of an opportunity right now, right? With the shakeup from COVID that it seems like more fixed mindsets are more growth oriented and open right now than I’ve seen in the past. Do that match your experience?

Amber:
Definitely. We’ve proven that we can shift and we can rise to the occasion. We’re at a great place to be able to continue to do that. There were credit unions that were totally anti work from home and now everybody’s at home. We were told that, ‘well, that position can’t be done from home.’ Well, we’ve now proven that it can be done. So it’s time to start thinking about other aspects of our organizations in the same way. Yeah, it couldn’t be done before or it was too hard to be done that way or we don’t have the expertise to do it that way. But now we found that we can shift. We can be nimble. So where are the other opportunities there? I do think that it’s important that we keep that momentum and learn from the lessons that came with 2020, that showed us what we truly are capable of.

Cameron:
Yeah. I love that. We always had fairly flexible work from home policy, but there was always this hesitancy and what will it be like. Well, we know what it’s like, so there’s no doubt anymore OF what that is, both the possibility and what it will be like. Speaking of areas where the credit union industry has a lot of opportunity for innovation. Another one of the big themes from 2020 was Racial, Equity and Inclusion. I think obviously catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd but it just came up over and over again. And I know there’s been a lot of work in the credit union space. I know finally, launched their center for excellence in this area. And I’d love to know where do you think the credit union is in this journey right now? And then what a credit units getting right and where is there still more work to do?

Amber:
This is another area that I’m exceptionally passionate about. And I think I might have a bit different perspective just because of my own experiences. As a black woman in the industry, I’ve seen firsthand how far we’ve come, overall. When I started out eight years ago, I was given the opportunity to travel to different events throughout the industry. And honestly, I often found myself the only black woman in the room and sometimes, the only obviously nonwhite person at all. I’ll admit that sometimes that’s an uncomfortable position to be in, knowing that you may be the only real-world experience your colleagues have with a black professional. I’m proud to say that each year, the makeup of the room has changed. Slowly but surely, I’m seeing diversity, which to me means that as an industry, we realized there was a problem and we’ve been working to make changes.

Amber:
And I think we are making progress. I’ve see hundreds of campaigns each year while reviewing the MAC awards and I’m happy that we’re also seeing representation in our advertising. The credit unions are making the effort to make sure that all of their members feel like there are products and services that are available for them. As marketers, we’re in the unique position to push DEI in our organizations. And based on the conversations I’ve been having over the last year with colleagues, I do believe we’re all working to do our part and make a difference. But as you alluded to, there’s still work to do. Overall as an industry, we have room to look at our policies and procedures, to bring in outside consultants and really question whether or not we truly are being inclusive in our lending practices, frontline member experience roles and even our internal interactions. While changing the way we market and the content we share as a start, there’s so much more to be done and as credit unions with the stated purpose of serving the underserved, I think we’re in a unique position to be a leader in the financial services space.

Cameron:
Yeah, I think it’s a fascinating gap in an industry, as you said, that that is built. And really, I think there’s always that distinction between the industry and the movement but the movement is built around serving the underserved. So a real focus on equity and inclusion and diversity seems critical on some levels for the credit union space to live up to the sole and the potential of the movement in 2021. I’m curious for maybe a credit union that’s getting started. I know these can be, we have a really… You mentioned outside consultants. We have some really great consultants we’ve been working with at PixelSpoke and I’ve gotten fairly comfortable over the last four years. But boy, I was raised to be, “do not talk about race. Don’t touch it with a 10 foot pole. If you say anything as a white man, you’re going to be called a racist. You’re going to say something dumb and sort of freeze. Don’t engage.”

Cameron:
And I’ve come to really embrace, being willing to talk about race, knowing that I will say things that are unskillful sometimes. I will make mistakes, but then as a white man and a CEO, I have a real responsibility to do my best to engage skillfully in these sorts of things but also accept that I will make mistakes. And that kind of vulnerability is critical from someone like me. And I’m curious, any thoughts you have for credit unions that are maybe earlier in their DEI journey of how to get started and how to meaningfully live up to the parts of the credit union movement that especially are addressed towards serving the underserved?

Amber:
Well, I’ll start by saying that, like you said, you’re going to say something dumb. It’s inevitable. I think we all have all sorts of beliefs and biases that we have not confronted but I think the important thing is the willingness to learn and not sit and stay in your ignorance. I think, ignorance oftentimes gets a bad rap, but the truth is, it’s you not knowing. That’s what it means to be ignorant and a lot of us do not know the best way to approach these things. But being open, realizing when you’re in over your head and bringing in that outside help, even though we have had a focus at USE of focusing on diversity, focusing on inclusion before all of this started, we brought in a consultant this year, we brought in somebody that could help us get to that next level. And there are quite a few thoughout the industry that focus specifically on credit unions and how we were shaped and how we’ve done things historically and what we could do to make sure that we’re opening our eyes and looking at things a little bit differently. So I would say even if you’re starting out, don’t become intimidated. Know that there’s help out there and know that even though you’re going to stumble, it’s really about making that progress and wanting to learn and do different and be better.

Cameron:
I love that. That’s beautiful and eloquent and I knew it would be. One of the things I like to think about with the, I work as well is… And again, I think this is worth sharing as a white man. I had this deathly fear of being labeled a racist. And I just wanted to do anything I could to avoid that possibly happening. But it really put this wall up in a sense because I wasn’t willing to be vulnerable or engage and as you said, make mistakes, which is how we learn. And rather than saying, that’s the end of the world. And one of the things I’ve seen, just some of the nonprofits I’m involved in, as well as PixelSpoke, that, I really believe that the journey that an organization or group of people can go through from a diversity equity and inclusion standpoint, for me, at least, it teaches the most important life skills I want with everyone.

Cameron:
And maybe that’s not why we do it, but rather than being the scary thing, it can actually be something done from a place of joy and curiosity and love, rather than something being done from a place of blaming and shaming. And I just wanted to share that because I do think sometimes, particularly, white folks have that narrative in their head and they assume it’s just going to be this difficult, rough experience. But that when done skillfully, I feel like we have four ground rules from our facilitators and they’re sti;; engaged, speak your truth, which is basically, share your lived experiences and accept non closure. And, Oh my goodness, I’m forgetting the fourth one. I think they’re so good. Where did I write it down?

Cameron:
I’ll have to look it up in just a minute. Anyway, I think they’re so good that I’m like, “if I could learn how to do these things with everyone in my life, how much better would I be” Oh, the last one. Be willing to experience discomfort, don’t freeze people in time. And remembering that there’s a uplifting, expansive perspective than viewing it as something that’s mandated by HRS can be powerful. I don’t know how that lands with you. Those are just my quick thoughts.

Amber:
I think the one thing that stood out the most to me there about what you said is living in that fear, that fear of doing it wrong, that fear that you’re going to be labeled as a racist. I think that it’s important to remember that everyone, regardless of whether or not they’re a white male or a black woman or any other combination, that there is still that fear going into those conversations, even if we’re talking specifically about racism and not any of the other isms that are out there, that you could be. There’s that fear that I won’t be heard that when I’m go into this conversation, I’m automatically going to be judged, that I am going to be pegged the angry black woman, that I’m going to be pegged as having a chip on my shoulder, that I’m going to be pegged as speaking for my entire race when the truth is all I’m speaking of my specific experiences and how we can work towards making those better. I think there’s fear across the board and going in realizing that is helpful for everybody, realizing that there’s pain in the room regardless of which side of the table you’re sitting on.

Cameron:
That’s a really good way to put it. And I think that’s where I ground myself. I’m writing article about is right now around the role of love and business. And some of that comes from…Do we have Valentine’s day coming up, right? It’s a great opportunity for all of us to celebrate love. And I think there’s often this misperception that loving others means only doing the easy stuff. And I really think when I look at my life and my marriage to my wife and my parents and all the really important relationships, I think that love is such an underused term and that it means this combination of appreciating the heck out of each other and caring for and supporting each other and also being willing to have some of the more difficult combinations and that is the magic. It’s the glue, it’s the cement that creates those lifelong relationships that are such a source of meaning.

Amber:
I agree.

Cameron:
So I love putting that framing out there. All right. One other question before I grill you with some rapid fire questions. I was intrigued, I think I knew this anecdotally, but I think I came across it more clearly prepping for this. You have an MBA in Sustainability. So what inspired you to do that and how has that made you a better and more effective marketer?

Amber:
Well, honestly, I find that few people actually understand what that means. In the simplest terms, it’s balancing people, planet and profit. So it’s looking to find that synergy and the sweet spot between the three and all areas of business. I am a self-proclaimed tree hugger. So I want to make sure that we do everything we can to maintain the health of our planet. And for years, I talked about going back for my MBA when I found the MBA sustainability program and I realized that the director of the program was actually a marketer, I was sold. Looking at things holistically has been a great benefit and really helps me keep the people-helping people focus top of mind. But right now, I’m working on a branch relocation and as we go into the construction and build out, my sustainability focus has really given me a different perspective on how we’ll best accomplish both our construction and our member experience goals. It’s really combining those things together. So I’m not thinking about anyone [inaudible 00:29:25] in that silo. I’m not just focused on the profit. I’m not just focused on people but I’m focused on how profit people in the planet can really work together.

Cameron:
I love it. All right. Let’s do some rapid fire questions. You have no idea what’s coming. Are you prepared?

Amber:
I’m terrified. Let’s go.

Cameron:
All right. Amber Fielder what is your favorite word?

Amber:
Oh, that’s a hard one. Interesting.

Cameron:
Just interesting, kind of a neutral. No one knows what you’re thinking. It’s just new. All right. I like that. What’s a song you’re embarrassed to admit that you like?

Amber:
There’s so many of them. I would say honestly, I used to be, back in the day, a huge NSYNC fan. Recently, I’ve been singing quite a few songs. Bye, bye, bye has been playing quite a bit over the last couple of months in my house.

Cameron:
Classic. All right. I appreciate your vulnerability there. Let’s do some easier. What’s your favorite meal?

Amber:
Anything seafood. I love lobster, crab. Those are my favorites.

Cameron:
All right. What is your life slogan?

Amber:
But did you die though?

Cameron:
Did you die though?

Amber:
Yeah.

Cameron:
What does that mean?

Amber:
I’m a bit of a risk taker and I have on small occasions been accused of trying to kill people. “Amber, why did you make me do that? I could have died.” “But did you die though? You didn’t, you didn’t die. It’s okay. We made, it’s fine.”

Cameron:
Oh, I love that. Oh my goodness. Okay. And last question. If you could have dinner with one historical person, who would it be?

Amber:
Twilight Cameron. Do I give you the real answer or do I give you the “I’m doing an industry podcast answer?”

Cameron:
Let’s do both. I think that’s important.

Amber:
The real answer would be my mom. My mom passed away eight years ago and one person in history that I could have dinner with, it would be her. So, choking up thinking about it, but it definitely would be her. I think the second person would be Malcolm X, probably. I feel like he is such a complex person and as I read things written about him, things he’s written and really see how he shifted in his thinking and the way he changed over his life. Really understanding that and the struggles that come into really making that change, I think would be really interesting from the firsthand perspective.

Cameron:
Yeah. I agree. From what I know of him, incredible evolution in his thought. He seems like he epitomise the reality that we as people are not static.

Amber:
Right.

Cameron:
All right. I’m going to let you off the hook with the rapid fire questions. Thanks for braving those. So to close it, I’d love to know, is there anything else you wanted to leave our audience with, anything you didn’t get to or that you want to reiterate?

Amber:
I’m consistently impressed with the resiliency of credit union marketers. We are always thinking of ways to reinvent ourselves and our credit unions. It’s more important now than ever with so many new entrants coming into our already commoditized market. We talked about all of these new players, Venmo coming out with a credit card, CITI’s new innovative loan products. And I think it’s super important that as marketers, we are in the discussions with our it department, our ops, our lending departments, as well as executive management to make sure that the member experience and consumer sentiment are staying top of mind as we’re making these decisions and really driving strategy.

Cameron:
Amen. What a perfect note to end on. All right, Amber, thanks so much. I really appreciate you taking the time and I hope everything continues to go very well for you in 2021, including all the bonus jobs your son has kindly given you regarding managing his schooling.

Amber:
I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Thanks Cameron.

Cameron:
All right folks, another episode that I really enjoyed, lecture a few of my key takeaways. I liked Amber’s first takeaway. It’s one. I think that we’ve heard a lot, but it’s always worth reiterating that when credit unions talk about relationships as our core differentiators, it’s really important to think about what does that look like when it has to be done remotely? And that’s both the big challenge and the big opportunity that has really been raised by COVID. I also like Andrew’s point that the real innovation is happening around loan products. She said that everyone she is talking to is saying that this is the big primary area of challenge right now. And then that matches what I’m hearing. And I love that example of the Citi bank product. More of the few times they hear me say, I love Citibank, the variable rate line of credit product that can also be partially converted to a fixed rate personal loan.

Cameron:
That’s an example of a product that really addresses a member paying point and drives real results for the organization. I also love Amber’s comment that long-term results require a longterm strategy and how that’s the core challenge which she’s for marketers, with whom she works. That how can we create this long-term strategy and stay true to it while also adapting to the problems we’re being asked to solve by leadership in the board? I thought it was a helpful reminder that Amber said that the best campaign she saw in 2020, as they’re seeing their awards season start to ramp up, that they’re connected to feelings and the real human experiences of the year. And in particular, campaigns that support essential workers and community impact really stood out and cut through the noise. I always love innovation and I think this framing that marketers need to support product innovation by thinking about the end to end member experience and not the risk and that’s because product innovation is everyone’s lane.

Cameron:
We should all be driving in that together. I love that framing that how does a marketer create product innovation? It means not taking no for an answer, but being persistent, pushing for lots of little yeses along the way towards that big yes at the end. I also love the framing. We’ve been thinking about this a lot at my company that 2020 proved that we can shift and innovate and do a lot of things that we didn’t think we could do. We all said we couldn’t do work from home, but we proved that we can. So what else are we unwilling to question or have we been unwilling to question that if we do so now it could really move us forward towards really meaningful leaps. I appreciate Amber sharing our experiences around all the progress that she’s seen when it comes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the credit union industry.

Cameron:
And also that she sees that there’s still so much more opportunity. To be true to the mission of serving the underserved, this is a critical core competency that credit unions need to be working on and an area where marketers can really lead that effort. And I do appreciate and resonate with Amber’s framing that if as an organization you’re feeling stuck around DEI work, bringing in an outside consultant can really help. And there are lots of really talented ones in the credit union space. And then lastly, I really enjoyed, I always enjoy chatting with Amber, but I did not realize she had an MBA in Sustainability. And I thought her framing about how as a marketer that gives her that lens of people, planets and profits in everything that she does. And it’s a really powerful, I’m sure you’ve heard this term, but the triple bottom line, it’s a really powerful framing for a credit union marketer to lead really meaningful results in the organization and across the organization. All right. Thanks for joining us today for another great episode. Until the next time, I wish you the best of luck in making your credit union remarkable.

 

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