The average price of gas nationwide was $3.96 a gallon last week. With the average edging toward $4.00, wouldn’t you rush to a local gas station if it was offering $1.99 a gallon?
Digital Federal Credit Union ($4.3B, Marlborough , MA) tested the power of discount pricing in a recent community outreach event. The credit union orchestrated a promotion at a local gas station to thank their members and the community for their continued support of DCU.
The Action Plan
DCU was looking for an opportunity to offer immediate help to members struggling with the high gas prices, but also make the biggest advertising impact for the credit union. It did not take long for the credit union to see the negative impact gas prices were having on the community. A sizeable reduction in the price of gas would provide the immediate impact they were searching for, but deepen the connection with their membership.
The credit union chose a gas station with convenient access to the membership base in close proximity to two of their 18 branches. John LaHair, Public Relations Manager for DCU, used both local media and DCU employees to spread the promo message and highlight the value of the credit union.
Immediate Positive Impact on Members
The credit union notified area members via email the night before of the price reduction and station location. As credit union members shared the promotional information with friends and family, the news quickly spread via word-of-mouth to non-members.
Beginning at 5:00 am, the 7-hour price reduction attracted over 800 cars that waited in line for the chance to pump the cheaper gas. Stories highlighting the promotion highlighted positive ways individuals were affected by the credit union’s gas promotion. The individual ‘feel good’ stories included the ability of one family to now visit their grandmother, how one mother could take the money saved to invest in her daughter’s financial future, and how “good Samaritans” came to one man’s rescue when his car ran out of gas while waiting.
More than two dozen DCU employees washed car windows, helped pump gas, and handed out free bottles of water and lollipops. Employees even waited in the line of cars with walkie-talkies to update gas station attendants of cars reaching empty just waiting their turn. Employees had numerous opportunities to talk to members and non-members one-on-one, priceless for any credit union.
Win-Win for the Credit Union
DCU ’s promotion achieved their strategic goal of ‘thanking’ the community for their continued support. The community outreach quickly won attention from the media. As Mr. LaHair stated in a news highlight, "If you drive it, we can finance it, so we can fill it."
Immediate exposure for the credit union included:
Local coverage on all 4 local Boston, MA affiliates – NBC, ABC, FOX, and CBS
Live broadcast from Fox & ABC during their Morning News
Live broadcast from NBC & ABC during their 12 Noon News – including aerial shots from traffic helicopters
Local stories spoke directly of the value of the credit union’s intended impact. As Worcester Magazine, a local media outlet, stated “ Kudos to DCU for making us feel, even if just once this week, that something is getting cheaper. Now could the government do that for us, too?”
Since the July 22 nd promotion, 59 media stories have highlighted the credit union’s community outreach. The pinnacle of the story’s wide reach was a spot on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. You can view the credit union’s CBS exposure by clicking here.
The Final Numbers Add Up To Success
The credit union succeeded in highlighting the value of the credit union through strategic community outreach. The promotion cost the credit union about $20,000. However, DCU estimates the story has reached almost 3 million households. The free marketing exposure received from the media is valued at $318,426 – a robust return on DCU’s investment.
The continuing return over time for the credit union is the trust value they are developing with their current and future members. That is the type of community involvement that is priceless.