You decide to promote a new low interest rate on used auto loans. You create beautiful marketing materials that are sent to members and sit neatly on tables in your lobby. Your lobby displays are standing at attention, ready to greet members as they walk through the front door, and member service representatives have buttons that scream, “Ask me about our auto promotion!”
After the promotion, you’re wondering why you didn’t secure as many auto loans as you thought you would. Ask yourself a few questions. Was there a banner on your home page announcing the sale? Did you send e-mail invitations and reminders to all of your members? Did your statement stuffers direct members to your Web site for more information on these new low rates? Did your direct mail campaign support your online campaign?
Get in the online game
Marketing practices of the past are not enough to drive success in the auto loan business today. A J.D. Power and Associates study showed that 60% of consumers preferred to research vehicles online, and of that number, 88% visited a dealership web site. According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project study conducted last spring, online banking usage increased by 47% over the previous two years. This research demonstrates the increasing connection your members have with the online world.
Get involved in the process
First, partner with an auto dealership willing to work with you to develop targeted online marketing programs, complemented with direct mail and collateral materials. Identify a partner that guarantees your members will be referred back to you for their auto loans and that offers an extensive collection of promotional campaign materials that can be customized to support your promotion.
Next, find ways to connect with your members who prefer to visit you online rather than walk into your lobby. A 2006 Callahan Internet Strategy Consortium study shows that 68% of members appreciate receiving certain information via e-mail. Members are most interested in learning about updates to online services and being informed of new products or services – such as new low rates on auto loans. Beyond promoting great rates, you can also educate members about the overall auto purchase process. It is important to reinforce the notion that this is one of many services you provide to make it easier for members to manage their finances.
Make sure you also have indirect online routes to your web site. There are a number of ways to get placement on third-party web sites. For example, make sure there’s a direct link to your site from your auto dealer partner’s web site. Consumers looking for cars should be able to research their cars online, and then click the link to your site to complete a loan application. If you are a SEG-based credit union, take advantage of your employer groups’ intranet sites by posting your services and a link to your web site on the employee benefits web page.
Finally, complement your new online marketing programs with direct mail and collateral materials. Use pieces such as statement stuffers or postcards with succinct messages to drive members to your Web site for more information.
Don’t forget to stay member-focused
Remember, your marketing strategy is designed for two purposes – increasing overall credit union membership and increasing the use of products and services by current members. When launching new Internet or e-mail initiatives, reach out, ask your members if they find the service valuable and if there are other services they would like offered online.
Enterprise Car Sales has helped to successfully increase auto loan volume for more than a thousand credit union partners. For more information on how to build your auto loan business with Enterprise, visit its new B-2-B web site: www.enterprise.com/perfectpartnership.