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MAC Conference Leads the Conversation on Innovation for Credit Unions

By June 8, 20234 min read

Nashville set the stage for three days of awesome collaboration and innovation at the annual MAC conference. The event, hosted by Marketing Association of Credit Unions, boasted its highest attendance rate ever, came to a close May 25th and included top-tier general sessions, breakout workshops, exhibitors, networking opportunities galore, and a much-anticipated awards dinner. Centering on innovation, credit unions probed into what’s at the heart of their approaches to marketing, operations, business development, community service, and overall strategy to think deeper about evolving with their growing communities. Here’s a roundup of our time in Nashville!

Innovating Under Pressure

The event kicked off with a memorable keynote from international speaker and best-selling author Carla Johnson. Her approach, which is informed by 15-plus years of research and experience working in collaboration with a range of businesses and nonprofit organizations, delves into the importance of crafting a compelling brand vision. In her keynote, she challenged the audience to consider and share their main struggles with innovation. One response resonated with many: “It’s hard to be innovative when you are inundated.” Carla’s Wheel of Innovation framework comprises five stages: observe, distill, relate, generate, and pitch. In summary, she posits that by observing the world around us, distilling patterns, relating ideas, generating multiple solutions, and effectively pitching our ideas, we can foster a culture of innovation within our organizations. Her breakout session dug deeper on the why behind the work–a consideration that resonates closely with the community-focused work of credit unions. She emphasized that starting with the “why” and working outward to the “what” builds emotional connections and relationships with your brand, ultimately attracting more members.

C is for Content 

The event’s much-anticipated discussion panel featured a lineup of industry experts who shared their insights and experiences, offering strategies for creating impactful content. Christin Vaughan, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer at Allegiance Credit Union, shared an especially authentic approach: Its #aculifehacks video series invites credit union employees to share life hacks ranging from makeup tips to thrifting advice. In explaining the strategy, she emphasized the importance of creating content that people would genuinely want to engage with, asking the question: Would people come to my page to look at this? FI Grow’s Meredith Olmstead approached the topic from a technical perspective, discussing content clusters and emphasizing the need for quality over quantity when it comes to content. She hit on SEO best practices like linking content and how credit unions can use data to ensure their content is effectively reaching and engaging current and future members.

Mission Disrupt Founder and President Dean DeCarlo highlighted the value of user-generated content over influencer content, particularly for credit unions, noting that user-generated content tends to be more authentic and aligned with the community-focused nature of credit unions. Social Assurance’s Jordyn Swanson agreed, taking the panel a step further to offer tips and ideas for helping credit unions identify and leverage opportunities to capture great content that humanizes their brand and captures the attention of current and future members. She shared actionable ideas, including covering interesting community events, showcasing employee stories, and leveraging testimonials to tell member stories that resonate with both the experiences and needs of others. Jordyn also reminded the audience to slow down when creating content, stopping to think through goals and ensure it resonates emotionally with their audiences. 

In all, these perspectives covered content from multiple angles, helping credit unions find opportunities to innovate within their day-to-day experiences serving members and working within their communities.

The Power of Brand 

MAC’s branding-focused panel included the likes of NYMBUS’s Allison Netzer, Tower Federal Credit Union’s Marc Wilensky, and branding guru Amber Farley from FMS. The group took an insightful approach to branding and innovation, touching on concepts like building and enforcing brand in departments that are not member-facing and tactics that can help credit union brands weather recession. Amber shared her unique and powerful perspective on refreshing and modernizing a strong brand, informed by her impressive tenure leading substantial rebrands in the financial services space. She also discussed the potential pitfalls to avoid in a brand refresh, providing practical insights that can save crucial time and resources.

Another Great Year

Overall, MAC’s conference provided valuable insights into innovation, branding, and content strategies that credit unions can use to tell the incredibly powerful stories behind the impact they’re making in their communities. A special thanks to our friends at MAC for another great event! We’re honored to know and serve you and your credit unions and are already looking forward to next year!

If you missed us at MAC, but want to get in touch, drop us a line!

Jess Doerr

Jess Doerr is the client services manager for Social Assurance where she develops and oversees client projects. If she's not at the office, she's probably on her boat, on her bike, or in her garden.