"We try to do quirky things that you don't see others doing and our members love it," said Michalka. "In our weekly brainstorming sessions we discuss anything that has caught our eye not only from other financials but ideas can be inspired by something we saw at Nordstrom, Target or even within our local community."
Known for her innovative "outside-the-box" thinking, Michalka says she and her six-person team strive to be distinctive and have fun with their campaigns.
"Financial information can be pretty boring so we use a combination of very creative high-end images, with colorful graphics and a layout that is set in a way that people want to learn more," said Michalka. "We see ourselves as advocates so we don't just tell them what great products Altura offers but rather we share the information they need to know so we are not just a vendor but a true partner."
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, marketing plays a key role in Altura achieving a 15.48% growth in assets and 8.9% growth in membership in the past year.
Some of the more unique marketing efforts include local high school homecoming game school donations; partnering with SIFE to open an entirely student-run caf? called The Spot at its Magnolia Avenue branch to give real world business experience; tying in its Murrieta branch opening by offering an Affinity Visa credit card that gives back to the community by having a portion of purchases donated to the member's designated Murrieta public or private school or to the library; and offering a 50/50 CD for Youth, an account that can be opened by kids up to 17 years old for a minimum of $50 and pays 5% for a term of 50 weeks. Additional deposits up to $10,000 can be made and it can be renewed for 50 weeks upon maturity. "Our role as credit union marketers is to develop unique ways to market the credit union difference to the community at large, not only to grow sales but to build the credit union reputation," said Michalka. "As a credit union we have a responsibility to teach people to save--the overriding philosophy has to be that we truly are their advocates and our purpose is to be the resource that helps guide their financial lives." To demonstrate that point, Altura's overriding theme for 2006 marketing efforts was "This is what membership feels like." Michalka says every marketing medium from statement inserts, radio advertising, billboards and collateral materials, to the Web site, in-branch posters, publicity and government relations/legislative outreach efforts reinforced that message.
She adds that the delivery can sometimes pack an even more powerful punch. For example, Altura sponsored the library foundation's admission to Good Morning Riverside, a big meeting of local businesses and community leaders. Generally event sponsors are given some stage time to speak. However Altura opted instead to give their time allotted to library foundation leaders. The Altura name was in the library foundation's materials, but the focus was clearly about the foundation not the credit union. "Taking a step back from the spotlight to give the foundation the time to get in front of community business leaders to let them know why libraries are important ultimately made Altura look better than anything we could've ever done in terms of promotion," said Michalka. "It showed who we are, how we operate differently, how Altura supports education from every angle and how we really are a true community partner." --firstname.lastname@example.org