LEWISTON, Maine -- When it comes to sharing the credit union difference, Maine Family Federal Credit Union's summer marketing campaign has proven to be a step in the right direction.
The $83 million credit union's play on "feet" in its "Every Step of the Way" campaign has sparked a branding "movement" that has members talking up how Maine Family has helped them step up or step out in their lives.
Some 150 members met with one of the credit union's six financial services associates in June and July and wrote down their experiences on paper feet, which now decorate the credit union's main office in Lewiston and its Auburn branch.
"We have been overwhelmed how open members are to share their stories," said Debra Trautman, vice president of marketing. "The stories of how the credit union has helped improve their lives or in some cases gave them the hope and support to start living again is just amazing. When we started this we had no idea what kind of feedback we'd get but this has been more than just a step to get a new deck but some of the warmest stories that speak to the heart of the credit union spirit."
Trautman says the idea for the campaign came from a combination of focus groups conducted last year and a play on the credit union's branding effort of being there to help members through different steps of their lives.
"We like to take what we learn in our focus groups and incorporate it into our marketing campaigns. We also like to get members involved and it was a summer campaign so we thought it'd be fun to do something around feet," said Trautman.
Created by the Maine Credit Union League's Print & Creative Services division, the campaign features products in print advertising, the CU newsletter, lobby and Web site that help members reach the next step in life or to step up, such as fixed home equity or auto loans.
The promotion includes a monthly drawing for members to pamper their feet--just by voluntarily writing how the credit union helped them with a "step" in their lives. Members win gift certificates to day spas and local shoe stores. The member's name and contact info are on back of the paper "foot."
Maine Family FCU also tied in the fun summer campaign theme to its senior member club with cake walks in the lobby and its youth club by a Guess Monty Moose's hoof print size game. The hoof prints will be placed in a drawing for youth members to win new school shoes in August.
"The most memorable, and moving experiences are those true stories from members who said our credit union gave them a chance when no one else would. For example, we heard from a woman who is a bank employee that needed a loan to fix up her home or it was going to be condemned--our credit union was her last option for the woman who'd been through a divorce and needed our help in building her credit," said Trautman. "We don't have the bankers raising the taxation issue here yet but if they do I say we have ready a 150-foot reason why credit unions shouldn't be taxed and justifies how important credit unions are to so many people's lives." Trautman has shared the low-cost, buzz-making campaign with the state league and says it's been a unique way to stand out in the competitive financial landscape here. "For almost a year we've been using real members in our advertising, not just testimonials but all our lobby signage of people in different phases of life are actual members. It goes well with our branding so we don't use any stock images," said Trautman. "It is another way for us to get members involved and this campaign has also created great cross-selling opportunities. As members read the 'feet stories' they're learning more about the products and services we offer and are inquiring about them. So many are saying 'oh we didn't know you offered that too.' It's helped us build product penetration with existing members." The campaign is slated to run through the fall season.