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If You Could Be Donald Trump For A Day And Put A Credit Union-Related Challenge Before The Two Teams Competing On NBC's "The Apprentice," What Would It Be?

Tim McCoy, VP of Strategic Services, Texans CU

The Challenge: Create a national marketing campaign to educate the public on the differences between a bank and CU. If that's too broad, narrow it to just a single member of Congress or the Senate. If that's still too big-picture, create the same campaign for a credit union that it can use within its community to differentiate itself from the banks. Another idea along the same lines might be to create a public awareness campaign that makes everyone aware of the best-kept secret in financial services-that most people are eligible in one way or the other and that the CU is on par with most financial providers.

The Measuring Stick: In all of these scenarios I would be looking for them to create something that mixes the differences between banks and CUs with how those differences benefit people (not just talk about the CU's breadth of products and services).

Joann Chatfield, Marketing Director, Texans CU

The Challenge: How many customers can they convert to members in one day or how many checking accounts can they open in one day.

The Measuring Stick: What incentive will they offer; what makes it worth it to the customer to become a member or to open a checking account.

Rick Fleming, Digital Defense, San Antonio

The Challenge: Your management team has 48 hours and a budget of $5,000 to develop and implement a strategy that does the following: Help members understand how phishing scams work, how to identify them and how they can protect themselves from these scams; implement a program that allows members to report such phishing scams and to verify when the CU is actually sending a valid e-mail or other electronic communication, and develop a plan of action to work with local, state and federal agencies to catch those perpetrating the scam.

The Measuring Stick: evaluate how well the strategy addresses each of these three requirements.

Paul Lucas, consultant, Fairfax, Va.

The Challenge: Get as many people to go into a CU branch in a fairly high-traffic location and find out if they are eligible to join or get a loan or use any product or service. They could create some POP materials, a promotion/gift, etc., to drive prospective member response.

The Measuring Stick: reaching the greatest number of people and motivating them to take action by joining the CU and/or getting a new product or service.

Joe Hearn, Dupaqo Community CU, Dubuque, Iowa

The Challenge: Create a business plan for a payday lending/check cashing alternative that is appealing to consumers, gets users out of the "payday lending cycle," and helps consumers better comprehend the difference between credit unions and banks.

The Measuring Stick: the test of the viability of the program would be to intercept customers en-route to payday lenders and convince them to instead contact the credit union for assistance. The venture also must generate enough income to break even less expenses and projected charge-offs.

Kathy Craycraft, Four Rivers FCU, Turners Falls, Mass.

The Challenge: You are the CEO of a $15-million credit union with a net capital ratio of 6.8%. The CU has been profitable over the years but assets continue to grow faster than capital. Loans have increased during the past year by 20% and the delinquency ratio is less then one half of 1%. The board of directors is looking for the credit union to continue to grow during the coming year and would like to see its assets double within five years.

The Measuring Stick: Outline the steps you would take to comply with the wishes of the board, stay in compliance with the federal guidelines; continue to provide the same level of services to the membership and ensure that the staff is sufficient to meet the needs of the staff and members-and meet all of these goals without hearing the words "you're fired!"

Joan Zazzaro, TEG FCU, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

The Challenge: You have just opened a new branch and want to bring in new members. All the grand opening promos are over, and new membership growth didn't meet expectations. What do you do now to boost membership growth? The Measuring Stick: monitor membership growth before, during and after the steps taken by the apprentices to bring in more members.

Sharon E. Hockensmith, Wescom CU, Pasadena, Calif.

The Challenge: create a marketing blitz using Iraqi radio, newspapers, and posters to help Iraqi citizens understand and value the truly historical opportunity they have in exercising their right to vote. Design an oratorical message that will reach the "souls" of Iraqis. (Having lived in the Middle East, I know that Arabs enjoy and value oratory; in fact oratory is so important that some say Arabs believe something is so merely because it is asserted to be so.)

The campaign could include talented Iraqi and other Arab orators issuing an appeal to their children's future and their opportunity to change history. It could also emphasize the importance of no group, even minority groups, boycotting the upcoming election because in a representative government, one small, minority voice of reason, such as that of Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi, can completely turn a nation is a new direction.

The Measuring Stick: monitor voting statistics following marketing blitz.

Jim Berthelsen, SVP/General Manager, Harland Financial Solutions, Lake Mary, Fla.

The Challenge: Competition is increasing with the new bank branches down the road and they are slowly taking our members' business away from our credit union, so it's time to refresh our credit union's image and enhance our marketing. In 48 hours, and with $5,000 budget, re-name and re-brand the credit union and compile a marketing plan to launch that gets the right image and message out to our existing and potential members about the services and benefits our credit union offers.

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