JACKSON, Mich. -- If the membership campaign works, by the end of the year not too many people in the Jackson area won't be aware of American 1 Credit Union.
American 1 launched the campaign in February, and before mid-year almost 2,700 new members had joined. Those newcomers have brought in an average of $1,009 each in deposits and a total of $3.6 million in loans. The goal is 7,000 new members by the end of the year.
The field of membership covers anyone who has joined Jackson Co-op, organized as a cooperative grocery store after World War II by employees of a local Goodyear plant. Over the years other services ranging from insurance to rental cars have been added, including the credit union.
Michigan's tough economic times, with dwindling employment at auto companies and their suppliers, have affected the credit union.
"Many times, when people join [the credit union] through the company they're working for, they believe when they do not work there any longer they're not eligible for membership," explains Kristina Latoszewski, American 1 marketing director.
"So as businesses in our area have closed, we have contacted members who work for those organizations and let them know they are still eligible. I think that has helped. I think monitoring member service has also helped us with retention."
The membership campaign theme is Lucky 7 in '07, picking up on a slogan used at quarterly staff meetings. Employees received a down payment of $70 on the bonus they will earn at the end of the year if they meet their goals. All employees were presented t-shirts with the Lucky 7 in '07 logo.
Members who refer family and friends are entered in a drawing for a $500 gas card each month. Employees also receive incentives including a bonus program, bonus jean days and department and branch specialty incentives.
Staff are encouraged to talk up the credit union at every opportunity. For example, a handout to employees suggests the following conversation pointers while waiting in line:
"Wow. They are really busy. I can relate. I had a crazy day at work too. Where do you work?
"I work for American 1. Are you a member?"
If yes, talk up the $500 gas card.
If no, ask if you can mail them some information on the credit union.
As this suggests, Latoszewski points out much of the campaign is directed internally.
"We have focused on giving staff great incentives," she says. "We hold them accountable for their goals, and we recognize them significantly when they reach those goals. Everybody from executive vice president has goals they have to reach, and we've given them tools to help them generate ideas on who they can contact, tips for letters, postcards, phone conversations and so on."
There are also tracking tools to help employees
To reach current members, American 1 has beefed up advertising, including billboards, with the message "The better way to bank."
Latoszewski wishes there were a way to follow through with members the credit union doesn't see a lot. It's relatively easy to catch the attention of a member who uses American 1 as a primary financial institution and regularly visits a branch or logs onto the Web site. But it's a challenge to reach the member with a little-used token account who hardly remembers joining the credit union.
"I'm glad we got the whole staff involved," she says. "We have very high hopes we'll reach our goal."