Net.Finance Day One

It was a good kickoff today at Net.Finance. This was the Customer Acquisition and Cross Selling Summit, an optional first day to the conference. I gotta say, so far it doesn’t seem quite as strong as last year, but some great highlights.

It’s a tad early to say, but people seem to be buzzing about social media. There have been a few questions from the crowd, some comments in presentations about blogging, YouTube, Facebook, social networking, etc…

Emily Edwards, SVP of Online Sales Marketing at Bank of America was talking about Bank of America’s plans in the social media space, and she asked of her company “How do we start to give up control without giving up complete control?” I thought it was great to hear a big bank talk like that. People seem to get the new world of marketing where companies don’t control the message, and have to operate with a greater level of transparency to increase trust among the network of people who are talking about your company and brand online.

It’s nice to reconnect with some great people I met last year and meet some new folks, including Shari Storm from Verity Credit Union in my old stomping ground of Seattle. Also nice to meet some Canadians who make up a sizable group here, including Michael Seaton from Scotiabank, who was recently in a panel in Toronto with Rob Cottingham from Social Signal.

Looking forward to tomorrow, and hopefully meeting Colin Henderson.

I am excited to give my presentation. I think it will create some good dialogue, because it’s so far removed from anything anyone else is doing.

I discovered today that I can’t do math. This whole time I thought I had 45 minutes, but if I had added the minutes on the schedule together, I only have 35 minutes. Ugh. I’ll move fast and hope we have some time for discussion. I really don’t want to cut anything out, I feel it’s a strong presentation as-is.

Net.Finance

On April 19th I’ll be talking about ChangeEverything.ca at Net.Finance. I’m pretty excited about my presentation, and am ready to go. This week I had two practice runs, one for our agencies TBWA and Social Signal, who created ChangeEverything.ca, the other at Credit Union Central of BC. I received great feedback which has made my presentation better.

Net Finance is a conference at the intersection of eBusiness and the world of financial institutions. It would have been hard for me to believe a few years back that this would have gotten me excited, and yet here I am raring to go. I am speaking on the “Financial Services Innovation Forum” day.

I think my presentation really tells the story of ChangeEverything.ca as a form of social marketing – as engagement rather than traditional marketing. I hope I capture how this came about, why we did it, and how the site has been a success. I’ll blog after the presentation, and if I can, throughout the conference about what I’m learning. Between me and Colin, we should sum it up pretty well.

ChangeEverything.ca is a Webby Award Official Honoree

Webby Award
After a lovely four day weekend, I arrived back at my desk at work this morning to find out that ChangeEverything.ca had won the status of Official Honoree at this year’s Webby Awards.

From their site:

Congratulations on being selected as an Official Honoree

Your submission has been selected as an Official Honoree of The 11th Annual Webby Awards. As a result of the exceptional quality of submissions this year, the Academy has chosen to recognize work exhibiting remarkable achievement that was not selected as a Nominee. Out of more than 8,000 entries submitted to the 11th Annual Webby Awards, less than 15% are deemed Official Honorees.

After years of producing web sites, this is my first Webby. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited. And just in time for my Net.Finance presentation next week!

Thanks and cheers to Kate Dugas and the team at Social Signal for making this happen.

America Saves

Interesting article in the NYTimes: Can Poor People Be Taught to Save?

Why can’t poor people save money? Part of that psychological barrier… was social pressure to not save; the minute people got a little surplus, friends and family would start asking for loans. There were other obstacles too. People in both communities feared losing welfare benefits if they accumulated cash. Many families didn’t even define savings monetarily; they talked about the things they would sell in desperation – baseball-card collections, heirlooms or other low-value assets.

Enter AmericaSaves.org. What is America Saves?

America Saves is a nationwide campaign in which a broad coalition of nonprofit, corporate, and government groups helps individuals and families save and build wealth. Through information, advice, and encouragement, we assist those who wish to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, save for a home, save for an education, or save for retirement.

It’s a social network changing the peer pressure in poor communities from spending and lending to saving. According to the article, “about nine million households have effectively no financial assets – nothing to fall back on for emergencies or retirement.”

Banks help out by joining the program and creating accounts that charge no fees and have no minimum balance requirements. Amazing.

Something credit unions should get involved with. Creating wealth and assets for those with none. Banking for the under-banked and under-served. Hey, isn’t that already our mandate?

PS: Thanks for the link, Rob

Focus groupie

We held a focus group with members of the ChangeEverything.ca community. Fascinating stuff.

I don’t want to give away anything proprietary, but the trust the members of the focus group have in Vancity is amazing. It’s a bit of a virtuous circle: they use CE because they trust Vancity as a local, mission-driven organization with strong roots in, and ties to the community (if we replaced the Vancity logo with one of the big 5 banks, they wouldn’t even have tried the site even if everything else remained the same), but it goes the other way too because their trust in Vancity has improved because of CE and our lack of ulterior motives.

We also walked away with a lot of usability issues to address and some interesting functionality enhancements, which hopefully we can afford to make. There are some frustrating issues with the site, and seeing it through their eyes makes me happy the site is so sticky that it keeps our users coming back in spite of the technical issues. They all really liked the design, the open space, the colours. The Vancity brand lends itself well to this kind of endeavour, both aesthetically and thematically.

Watch the site over the next few weeks and even months for changes we’ll implement as a result of this amazing and inspiring evening.