Consumers thought they were in a time warp as they walked into UniWyo Federal Credit Union ($227.3M, Laramie, WY), where the credit union staff was wearing "Mad Men"-esque attire and roller skating in the lobby.
UniWyo took a risk and marketed home equity loans with a 50s to 60s retro campaign, “Practice Safe Banking” last month. A couple days a week, most employees dressed up, with some of the vice presidents even roller skating in the branch. UniWyo also brought a daybed into its lobby area with a sign that asked members to practice safe banking on it.
During a celebration for the home equity loans special rate, the cooperative financial institution hid money in the branch for members to find, while a local radio station broadcast from the event. The credit union offered photo opportunities behind life-size 50s-style cut-outs and hula hoop contests.
The marketing campaign was inspired by a third-party marketing group, which many credit unions are turning to to streamline marketing efforts. Credit unions are finding that using an outside source can more easily connect their campaigns to pop culture to engage and interact with audiences. In this case, UniWyo used PTP New Media, a Texas-based marketing group.
UniWyo received graphics, T-shirts, print media and other materials. It could choose what products to feature and how to take the ready-made campaign to the next level. Mindy Uitterdyk, marketing specialist at UniWyo, says she likes to pair the attention-catching campaigns with promotions. Uitterdyk is the only UniWyo staff member in charge of marketing.
“These campaigns get us out of our comfort zone as far as the messaging and how we present the messages,” says Uitterdyk. Unlike the direct mailers that UniWyo previously used, the credit union has been able to track the interaction with its online marketing.”
Uitterdyk says with the Practice Safe Banking campaign, the credit union noted a 101.7% increase in home equity loans over the same time frame last year. Last year with direct mailers and signs in branches, UniWyo did approximately $1.1 million in home equity loans. When the credit union received the campaign kit it set a $2 million goal, which UniWyo exceeded by more than $350,000 more than four weeks.
The credit union’s 12-month loan growth rate is 6.42% for the first quarter of 2012, more than twice as much as the national credit union average, in the first quarter of 2012. UniWyo is one of four credit unions in the college town of Laramie, with a population of about 28,000 and competes with 10 banks in the area.
UniWyo is reaching and serving 64.86% of its potential members, more than 16,000 consumers, according to first quarter data. UniWyo’s 12-month membership growth is also impressive. The credit union has a 6.11% membership growth rate, compared to its peer group which has a 0.93% rate. And the institution has more than 19,000 average member relationships, above its peer group average, the state average, and the national average.
The Practice Safe Banking campaign has ended but UniWyo has already ordered more T-shirts for incoming freshman next year with the tagline, “When you’re in the mood for a union, think credit union.”
This first campaign UniWyo took advantage of was “How to Survive a Zombie Invasion” in October. It “tied in perfectly” with Halloween and the media’s fascination with the "Walking Dead", and both employees and members got behind the campaign, says Uitterdyk.
UniWyo staff painted their faces and wore tattered clothes giving out T-shirts for its “How to Survive a Zombie Invasion” marketing campaign that targeted auto loans for four weeks.
“Credit unions can use emotionally driven, pop culture inspired campaigns to allow people to have fun both internally as well as externally, which can help to create more word-of-mouth marketing with friends and family," says James Lay, president/CEO, of PTP New Media.
Getting the staff involved in the marketing campaigns is crucial, says Lionel Turner, executive vice president of Department of the Interior Federal Credit Union ($135.4M, Washington, DC). With the staff more involved, Interior has seen an increase in member’s involvement too.
In January, when everyone was thinking about New Year’s resolutions — the top two being losing weight and losing debt — Interior tellers wore tracksuits, gym shorts, and multi-colored sweatbands to garner attention from members about signature consolidation loans for its Debt Watchers campaign.
“It brings the campaign top of mind,” Turner says about employees getting to dress up and have fun with the marketing strategy. “Plus members seemed to be more engaged with the staff, and generated conversation.”
During the six-week campaign, Interior collected $3 million in debt consolidation loans and signed on 460 new members.
“We knew we needed more insight into social media and remote technology marketing,” says Turner. “After seeing the potential benefits and the relatively low cost of social media, we decided to move forward with developing a social media strategic plan.”