Wendy Bryant-Beswick On Leadership

Wendy Bryant-Beswick, chief marketing officer at Generations Federal Credit Union, talks about digital transitions, max-value mediums, and why marketers deserve a dedicated seat at the strategy table.
Wendy Bryant-Beswick, Chief Marketing Officer, Generations Federal Credit Union

After a busy week, Wendy Bryant-Beswick can likely be found in her home art studio painting abstract landscapes of the Texas countryside. At work, Bryant-Beswick paints on an entirely different canvas a digital one.

As chief marketing officer at Generations Federal Credit Union ($572.5M, San Antonio, TX), Bryant-Beswick and her team spread the credit union’s key messages across a mixed set of channels such as Twitter, Facebook,
mygenfcu.org, and in-branch television screens.

True, she holds an art degree (Magna Cum Laude) from the University of the Incarnate Word, but Bryant-Beswick has been immersed in marketing throughout her career, working for some of the nation’s top firms including USAA and private equity giant Blackrock, where she established an enterprise social media program.

After moving home to be closer to her aging parents, Bryant-Beswick started with Generations in 2012. Over the past three years, total assets have grown by 49%, and Bryant-Beswick’s team has won a string of awards and recognition for Generations.

On what makes a successful marketing campaign

One of the most important things we can do is talk to our members and understand their needs. We always get feedback from a test group before we launch a new product.


Generations Federal Credit Union
Data as of 09.30.15

  • HQ: San Antonio, TX
  • ASSETS: $572.5M
  • MEMBERS: 51,875
  • BRANCHES: 15
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 14.39%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 20.68%
  • ROA: 0.41%

Also, I learned early on that marketing has to be a strategic player at the table. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the credit union industry, the investment world, or wherever, you can add value and be much more innovative, effective, and relevant if you’re there from the beginning and not treated as an afterthought or a layer outside of product development.

On the importance of going digital

One of my goals when I came to the credit union was to eliminate the majority of our printing. Doing so involved teaching some old-school marketers how to operate in a digital environment and asking staff to have conversations with members instead of pushing out a piece of paper.

We have since rolled out a digital content system that allows us to be much more dynamic. It’s easy to get a message out to the branches with all the TVs and a content system in every branch, and our content manager controls everything centrally. We’ve cut our print costs by 45% year over year.

On standing out in a crowd

One of the greatest accomplishments I’ve had here is reestablishing the brand, the message, and the position of the credit union in a crowded marketplace. It touched everything we did including branch presence (which we reengineered), signage, collateral, and the digital space (whether website or social media).

Since 2012, we’ve moved our brand awareness from 28% to 53%. That’s huge. We’re not a big player in terms of asset size and reach, so we have to find and maximize touchpoints that are going to return more value.

Social media is a great example. We outperform the large credit unions in our space not only in the number of followers but also in the way we approach and publish content. We use it for financial education and split our audience by who we want to reach, including small businesses, millennials, and gen-Xers.

On developing a good team

I hire experts who understand their discipline and I manage with the philosophy of letting employees do what they do best. Humility is core to the way I operate, and I have always been big on learning for myself and my whole team. It’s important for them to have time to develop and cultivate their own talent. At the end of the day, I want everyone to be excited to come into work. I know I am.

On finding inspiration

Digital and mobile technologies have changed marketing so much in the past 10 to 15 years, there’s a lot of consumption of information involved just to keep up. My daily reading has grown. I can read Communication Arts and switch over to e-Marketer to read about something more analytical or related to advertising.

The innovation happening in finance as a result of technology players entering the market is also fascinating whether it’s Moven, Lending Club, or some other player. There are a lot of non-finance companies making great strides and doing things we probably all should be doing.

As told to E.C. Harrison

January 20, 2016

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