In these tumultuous times, it is more important than ever to make sure your credit union articulates a clear message to members and the media. Right now there is a historic opportunity to further define and highlight the positive attributes of your credit union in the eyes of your members! Even though budgets are stretched, it isn't the time to hold back on outreach, but making the most of your efforts has certainly gained a renewed importance.
Credit unions across the country are using a wide variety of innovative tactics to deliver relevant messages that resonate with members in this troubled economic environment. Here are three successful examples of this outreach.
A Cure for the Bland Financial Education Blues:
Florida Commerce Credit Union ($300M, Tallahassee, FL) initially launched their iLiveFIT! program in fall 2008, and then built upon the initiative with the WeLiveFIT! Challenge in 2009. The ultimate goal of these efforts is to establish the credit union as a credible financial resource and partner for the Tallahassee community.
The iLiveFIT program partners members with a trained financial fitness 'coach,' who provides personal attention to help each member budget effectively, improve their credit, and advance their overall financial health. They assign a 'prescription' to each member that can include free educational courses, debt management and savings plans, and the member is then incentivized to follow the recommendations.
The WeLiveFIT! Challenge, drawing inspiration from popular reality entertainment programming, follows the progress of seven different local families throughout the year as they work to financially improve their lives with the help of the credit union. The family that demonstrates the most improvement by the end of the year will receive $10,000. The credit union launched www.welivefitchallenge.com, to act as an interactive hub for the entire effort. On the website, anyone can access a full profile about each of the families, read an explanation of their personal financial situations, view regular web episodes, follow blog postings by each of the families, interact on a community message board, and explore varied resources designed to encourage financial fitness.
The community response to these efforts has been tremendous!
By the end of 2008, there were already 1,500 members of the iLiveFIT! program, even before advertising efforts kicked off at the beginning of 2009.
The WeLiveFIT! Challenge website already has around 2,000 unique vistors that regularly engage the site.
The local media has agreed to feature stories about each of the families once a month for the duration of the WeLiveFIT! Challenge.
Increased usage of the online BALANCE financial education course is among the highest in the country.
A Collaborative Effort: Washington State CUs' "Membership Means Something" Campaign
One recent campaign that caught my attention is a joint effort by a consortium of over 50 Washington State credit unions. This collaborative effort allows credit unions in all areas of the state to pool their resources and reach a much wider audience than any single institution can reach on their own.
The Credit Unions of Washington recently worked with an advertising agency to launch a multi-channel, statewide campaign built around the message "Membership Means Something." The message effectively differentiates CUs from banks by explaining the value of membership, with individuals invited to a website that allows them to discover the credit union that best suits their needs. Check out their website and television ad here. The response to this campaign has been very positive and several credit union organizations from other states have inquired about running a similar campaign in their markets.
Finding Success with Targeted, Quality Television Advertising
We all know that television advertising isn’t cheap, and many credit unions are skeptical of the ROI with this type of marketing. However, Charlotte Metro Credit Union ($184M, Charlotte, NC) uses this medium extensively, and with great success (you may have recently heard about their innovative and entertaining Fee Pig ad).
A few years ago, the credit union conducted research with focus groups in their market area, with these groups clearly indicating that they expected to see financial institutions advertising on television in their market. Taking these and other findings into account, Charlotte Metro set out to make the most of their television advertising dollars.
Instead of buying a standard media package with the local news station, they worked with a media buyer to identify a demographic target group, and then figure out exactly which TV programs to hit and when. The concepts for the ads were created in-house, and they used a professional production company to ensure that each spot has a quality look and feel, and stands on its own against any other television ad that a consumer encounters. Over the course of 2008, member relationships deepened significantly across the board for the Charlotte Metro, and the credit union’s own econometric analysis indicates that the ads are having a definite impact on their bottom line and generating a positive ROI!