Guerilla marketing may be a hot trend in the retail world, with low-cost, high-impact stunts that get people talking, but this branding strategy still has a major flaw. Random events target a random segment of the public, so your chance of speaking to the individual interests and values of any one person are slim. Fail to make that personal connection and they’ll fail to remember the brand when it really counts.
That’s why focused, topic-specific public events still hold the upper hand. Time- and cost-effective, they can be structured around the long-term interests and values of the community or the specific demographics you want to reach.
For the newly rebranded Evolve Federal Credit Union ($302M, El Paso, TX), hosting artistic public events is an important strategy to convey the values behind their new name and attitude, while attracting a younger membership base.
Finance and Forward Thinking
Formerly known as El Paso Employees Federal Credit Union, the cooperative became a public charter institution more than a decade ago, but a lingering moniker caused frequent misconceptions about who could join. After years of planning, Evolve finally emerged Jan.1 under its new persona, with a marketing strategy that targeted people’s interests, not just their occupations.
“Our new name reflects this new direction,” says Elisa Terrazas-Arce, the cooperative’s social communication specialist.
Serve Tomorrow’s Members Today
Evolve FCU has steadily increased its existing member relationships to a record $10,000 per member in 3Q11, according to Callahan & Associates’ Peer-to-Peer data.
It also possesses well over a $13,000 average loan balance, outperforming peers in its asset size.
But positioning Evolve FCU for the future means getting the attention of younger individuals who are in the market for their first checking account, car, or home loan, and those who will have those needs in the years ahead.
Evolve’s average member age is in the upper 40s. But roughly 20% of El Paso residents are in the 20-34 age range, according to 2010 census data, and children under 18 make up an additional 30% of the population.
“As an institution, we are beginning to offer products and services that better align with what our target audience, the 18-35 age group, really wants,” says Terrazas-Arce. And speaking to their outside interests now will help set up opportunities for financial connections with Evolve FCU down the line.
An Underserved Demographic
El Paso is home to a thriving arts culture, driven primarily by a flux of students, graduates, and faculty from the area’s university and community college. By hosting an upcoming film festival for these individuals, followed by an art show later in the year, the credit union can effectively market its new brand to a segment of the population often overlooked by financial institutions.
“These type of events are not unique to El Paso and the artist community. However it is unique for a financial institution to host these events,” Terrazas-Arce says. “The fact we are providing artists with an opportunity to showcase their work shows them that we are interested in what they are doing. We want to be top of mind for them.”
While the credit union is still gathering submission for its film festival event, social media efforts, email blasts and promotion by professors at area schools has generated a great amount of interest. Anyone can submit a film, but they must be under ten minutes long and must deal with concepts, facts, or ideas surrounding evolution.
The screening will be held in-branch, after hours, using display and audio equipment the credit union already owns. Afterward, a panel of employees will select the grand prize winner, who will win a professional HD Hero Camera.
Hosting the event in-branch gains attention for the location, minimizes cost to just $500 for the prize and refreshments, and gives employees a chance to connect one-on-one with nonmembers, says Terrazas-Arce.
Not forgetting the sculptors, painters, and weavers of the world, the credit union will also hold its second annual art show this quarter, again focusing on the topic of evolution and change. The catered event will host live music, giving local artists a place to display or sell their art, even in the weeks after the event is over.
4 Tips For Hosting Public Events
Incorporate other businesses, groups, individuals, and associations to show it’s about the community, not just one institution.
Separate the event from daily operations and avoid holding events during working hours. Note: For Gen Y and other demographics, working hours may be different than the credit union is used to.
Match your event length and type to your community’s style (professional and efficient, relaxed and casual, etc.)
Sell your service, culture, and information, not your products. Save the paperwork, sales pitches and hard negotiations for business hours. Visitors will know where to find you when they’re ready to take a next step.