WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Credit union marketers stretched beyond all boundaries to share their message in 2006. From exploring nontraditional venues such as running into area offices and challenging staffers to become "superheroes" by encouraging credit union membership and chauffeuring a "just married couple" around downtown to promote joint checking to offering special newborn "sweet pea" accounts, credit union creativity took center stage.
The year also found credit unions partnering and sponsoring more local events in a display of social responsibility further distinguishing itself from the competition. Some even hosted their own concert series to benefit musicians and school music programs alike.
Some big CU moves in furthering financial literacy include credit unions in New York joining forces with the New York State Credit Union Foundation, NYS Department of Education and brass|Media to get a CU-sponsored student program incorporated in the curriculum and special brass student edition magazines into the hands of over 30,000 public school high school students.
Albany, N.Y.-based Fowler High School Ownership/Marketing, Business Teacher Susan Aloli says the program is the first of its kind outside of classes that have a unit in the textbook and students have been enthusiastic about learning.
"Everyone made an immediate connection," said Aloi. "Everyone has a financial goal. Young people don't have a clue how to get there. Students in my school don't have a lot of financial role models and don't have a lot of trust in banking practices. They like the fact that this is designed with their needs in mind and I support anything that gets their interest."
Looking ahead marketing experts say it is still all about the member and finding ways to reach and better connect with them. Filene's i3 innovation team is further exploring the viability of a National Member Portability project called "Always a Member." The concept involves creating an online referral database placed at the teller or service representative's fingertips to determine which credit union branches are close to the member's new destination and for which they are eligible to join. The idea is to make the transfer from one credit union to another when moving a simple one for members helping retain them within the credit union system. Final results of the pilot program will be reported in fall 2007.
Some marketing experts say to get a real idea of what members are thinking about the credit union or its services future surveys may be supplemented by looking into Web blogs. With some 50,000 blog posts each hour and more than 30% of the online population visiting blogs it can be a way to measure the effectiveness, momentum and engagement of initiatives or promotions--in members' own words. --firstname.lastname@example.org