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ACUCandE HGTV founder tells how to transform CU
NEW YORK (7/1/08)--When Susan Packard co-founded HGTV in 1994, established cable TV networks barely took notice.
Susan Packard, co-founder of HGTV, told how an "upstart" evolved into a $7 billion cable enterprise industry during Monday's General Session at America's Credit Union Conference and Expo in New York City. (Photo provided by CUNA)
“We were an upstart, and established networks didn’t take us seriously,” Packard said during Monday’s Opening General Session at America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo in New York City. Big mistake. Since that time, HGTV has become a $7 billion enterprise with magazines, websites, a shopping network,and more in more than 170 countries. ”Always take your competition seriously,” Packard advised. “Once we had 30 million subscribers, [other cable networks] couldn’t knock us off the mountaintop.” She offered these steps credit union leaders can take to transform their credit unions:
* Build a good idea into a big idea. Talk to members constantly to make sure you’re on target, you offer the right products and services, and you’re relevant. “To be successful, you have to matter to members.” * Keep your ideas fresh and focused. Use variety and humor to attract different market segments. But beware: “Using humor is tricky,” Packard said, “and it can fall flat.” So proceed with caution.

To keep your ideas focused, use a "brand lens process." This involves defining the experience you want members to have, and choosing words and brand images that define the desired experience and identify the credit union. Repeat this process periodically to make sure you matter to members.

During the early days of the Food Network, for example, "the most exciting show on it was Mrs. Fields making cookies," she said. That changed quickly. * Recognize the importance of culture. Organizational culture “is a roadmap for employees to do good work,” she said. “There’s no right or wrong culture, but you must stand for something.”
HGTV’s core values include diversity, clarity in communications, integrity, and work/life balance. Every new HGTV employee receives a laminated card bearing the organization’s values. “Create a culture where employees can be successful and fulfilled.” America’s Credit Union Conference & Expo, which is presented by the Credit Union National Association, ends Wednesday. For more on the conference, use the link to to Credit Union Magazine’s ACUC Daily.
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