Free hotdogs and soda, live music, prizes, even a shoeshine, and more were
available on Friday and Saturday in downtown Washington D.C. This was not for
one of the many festivals constantly taking over the city but to announce Commerce
Bank has arrived in Washington.
In markets across the United States credit unions are increasingly facing
new competitors, such as Commerce. New entrants energize markets and increase
competition for members. This weekend was the beginning of a campaign to promote
Commerce's planned expansion of more than 200 branches in the Washington area.
Friendly faces of employees from branches across the northeast filled the lively
atmosphere of the brand new bank facility. They showered each visitor with information
on free offerings, ranging from cheap plastic banks in the shape of Commerce's
logo to cash drawings for up to $10,000.
Over 300 Commerce employees from Philadelphia, New York, and other markets
were on hand over the two-day opening. The staff was able to report the number
of new accounts and balances opened in the day prior.
The music from the live band still audible blocks from the new branch was
not the only sign of the market's new entrant. PNC, the newly converted Riggs
Bank, also had staff on the street passing out fliers to and chatting with pedestrians.
They were offering a five-month CD with 5 percent APR as a two day special,
which coincided with the opening day specials of Commerce bank. In addition
they touted their new hours on Sunday for the branches closest to the new Commerce
Commerce is well known for its registered trademark as “America’s Most Convenient
Bank." It is not surprising that other banks would take note. These banks recognize
that one of the greatest challenges is just to simply get customers through
the door. Free gifts – blenders, coffee makers or George Forman Grills – or
amazing rates are tactics for acquiring new relationships.
Though this happened in the Washington area this week, next week similar activity
could take place in almost any market. Undoubtedly the new accounts opened this
past weekend were in addition to existing accounts at other financial institutions.
The challenge for the current primary financial institutions of members is to
retain their existing relationships in the face of new entrants with brand new
facilities, impressive rates, and short-lived promotions.
Credit unions built over 500 new branches in the past year. Branch expansion
and increased spending on retail strategies across the credit union industry
in preparation for competition based on great rates, seven-day-a-week service,
and marketing promotions is bound to magnify.
The festivities created a buzz with the local financial community and residents.
Their event and counter marketing launched a word-of-mouth campaign about the
free coin counting machines, CD rates, friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere.
Is your credit union’s marketing strategy creating a stir and giving your
members something worth talking about?