EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State University students and alumni aren't shy about claiming bragging rights when their sports teams win a crucial game.
So why not brag about Michigan State University Federal Credit Union?
That was basically the thinking behind the latest MSUFCU promotion. It's okay to brag about the credit union, members were told. What's more, if a friend or family member referred to the credit union actually joined, both the current and new member would be entered in a drawing for a Brag Bag.
The 10 prizes in the Brag Bag ranged from $500 in airline tickets from Lansing's Capital City Airport to tickets to a show during the 2007-2008 performing arts season at MSU's Wharton Center, $250 at a local jewelry store, a 2GB iPod Nano, a portable DVD player and a digital camera. The result--429 new members in three months. Joyce Banish, vice president, marketing, says while the prize donors didn't have business accounts at the credit union, "They know we give them a lot of publicity--and that's important." Banish points out that, since the credit union has a closed membership limited to faculty, staff, students, alumni association members and their families, MSUFCU, with $1.3 billion in assets, is always thinking about ways to attract new members to the existing ranks of 138,000.
There is a back door. Someone who doesn't fit any of the above categories can join the alumni association as a "friend." It's difficult to explain that and it does cost $45 to join the alumni group, so it was decided to encourage members to talk about the credit union.
For a while the credit union stressed inviting family members to join. That drew 150 members in three months.
"We decided we would expand that program to the general population," Banish explains. "People could refer not only family members, but neighbors and friends. We also expanded the prize base."
Referral slips were sent by direct mail, the promotion was featured on the MSUFCU Web site, and a five-ad flight ran in the local newspaper. Referral slips were available in every branch. There were staff incentives, and results were posted weekly.
"The biggest challenge was just keeping the hype up. One staff member had 75 referrals. We asked what she did. She volunteered at a big local conference for women, and passed out referral slips like crazy," Banish says.
"The more people talk about it, the more people understand it, and the better the results. Letting them [employees] know they're doing a great job is important. If someone sees another employee had 10 referrals, they think, 'If they can do it, I can do it.' It's kind of like viral marketing--you refer someone, they refer someone, and it keeps going."
Banish believes a promotion like this would be easier for a community-charter credit union, because it wouldn't be necessary to have potential members qualify by joining the alumni association. --email@example.com