Marketing Takes Center Stage in Downtown Portland

How do you build a strong brand on a tight budget? How do you maximize your community impact? How do you build a culture of employee and member engagement at your credit union?

On Thursday, May 7, Northwest credit union marketers gathered at The Benson Hotel in downtown Portland to hear from top marketing minds on these subjects and more at the 2015 NWCUA Marketers’ Conference.

Credit union marketing professionals joined each other around tables under the chandeliers of The Benson’s Crystal Ballroom. Throughout a day of keynotes, breakouts, and even a surprise field trip, they discussed the best strategies for spreading the credit union difference and growing market share in the Northwest. NWCUA Chief Operating Officer Denise Gabel emceed the conference with her trademark mix of glamour, wit, and improvisation.

Randy Schulz, vice president of marketing at Weber Marketing Group, took the whole conference on a field trip to Sniff Dog Hotel in downtown Portland. Attendees boarded iconic Portland trolley buses that ferried them to the fun, high-end canine care center.

There they got to witness the evolution of a distinct brand, and see dogs of all shapes and sizes playing with each other and the hotel’s staff.

“Who is your target audience?” asked Schultz. “And what makes you different from everyone else in the space? Don’t tell me that it’s your personal service,” he added. “That’s what everyone tells me. That doesn’t make you different.”

Nico Leyva of financial information startup NerdWallet shared insights on building a digital presence that works. “How do consumers find financial institutions online?” he asked, showing how common Google searches led to informational sites and big bank websites.

Leyva went on to provide insights on creating websites that meet consumers’ needs right from the home page. “When someone comes to your site,” he asked, “what are they looking for? Put that right in front of them.”

Marketer Derek Gillette shared his top tactics for effective branding on a limited budget. He showed attendees how he gathers data, gets outside of his own bias bubble, tests perceptions against realities, transparently controls his message, and more.

Sasha Anderson of ImpactFlow offered insights on amplifying community impact. “What a business does for the community doesn’t always have to be grandiose,” she said, “but they have to plant their flag somewhere that matters in order to make a difference.”

NWCUA President and CEO Troy Stang wrapped up the conference with a rousing talk about the importance of telling the credit union story. Not only is it important for advocacy, said Stang, “telling the stories of how you impact your members and communities is good for business.”

The marketers capped off the night with the Spectrum Awards, highlighting the highest achievements in Northwest credit union marketing.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790,

Posted in Marketing & Communications, NWCUA.