Marketer of the Year Says Never Do Anything Halfway, Looks to Score Points With Gen Yers In an "Uncrowded" Market
FAIRFAX, Va. -- For Fairfax County Federal Credit Union Chief Marketing Officer Matthew Kaudy, it's either all in or nothing.
"I just believe that if the market is telling you to do something then don't shortcut the idea, it has to be done to the fullest or it won't impact the bottom line. I'd rather hold off and roll it out later than not do it right," said Kaudy.
It's that thinking combined with his ability to scan the market for untapped opportunities that has helped the credit union penetrate new segments in the marketplace with innovative marketing techniques while enhancing the marketing channels currently in place.
"I think the culture of our organization helps, our CEO and board wanted that entrepreneurial spirit to lead the marketing department when they hired me and that support of innovation really keeps the creativity going," said Kaudy. "The way I look at it marketing is taking a differentiating idea into a full scale program that creates results. We break down to sub-segments and know the response rate on a finite level so we can free up the marketing dollars to reallocate elsewhere rather than having the mentality that it's an opportunity to cut the marketing budget."
Kaudy got hooked by the credit union philosophy as a college marketing intern at a credit union in Southern California. He then went off on his own serving for 10 years as the co-owner of a California ad agency with a high percentage of credit union clients. Wanting to focus his efforts into one credit union Kaudy looked to the East Coast. A scan of the northern Virginia market revealed that it would provide a great opportunity to apply the knowledge he'd obtained in California and move the credit union forward.
He's certainly been busy. He effectively promoted the credit union's online account opening channel and in 2007, it produced 15% of Fairfax County FCU's new members.
"Online account opening is a competitive necessity in the marketplace and it allowed our credit union to attract younger members during irregular hours and helps us attract members we would not have normally reached," said Kaudy.
Rather than participate in the growing financial services price war for certificates of deposit, Kaudy designed and marketed a Guaranteed Money Market with a guaranteed rate until 2008.
"The product was priced substantially lower than CDs allowing the credit union to keep our cost of funds down and was well received by our membership and the community," said Kaudy. "The success of the product resulted in a 79% increase in dollars in our money market accounts while allowing the credit union the flexibility to walk the cost of funds down as we did on January 1, 2008."
Kaudy has also positioned Fairfax County FCU as "first to market" among area credit unions in the viral marketing arena by designing and launching a user-generated Gen Y ad promotion on YouTube (See related story, page 115). The promotion encouraged Gen Yers to create and submit their own 30-second video commercial on the virtues of the credit union's new Gen Y Extreme Checking Account. The contest was advertised on Facebook via its Flyer ad service allowing Kaudy to target specific Gen Yers "psychographically" and demographically inside Facebook.
"Whenever I do something I want to make sure it is going to be successful and the Gen Y market wasn't crowded so we wouldn't be on the sidelines," said Kaudy. "The window was wide open and we wanted to connect emotionally with them by using a medium they are familiar with. I'm Gen X on the very fringe of Gen Y so rather than try to predict or assume, the idea was why not have them tell me how to communicate with their group."
He added that with social media or really any marketing it is important to go all in.
"Once we had the idea we weren't just going to dabble but really go for it and do it right," said Kaudy. "They made the commercial product, built the message and voted on the one that they really responded to and we ran it. It wasn't us forcing a message on them."
The aggressive strategy worked well the Flyer ads generated 360,000 impressions a day at a cost of $1.67 per click and the text message voting provided a Gen Y database to send future marketing messages to by text message.
"As marketers our biggest challenge is the basic current economic conditions, which results in more scrutiny in our budgets but I think it's an opportunity to really look at your ideas," said Kaudy. "Don't ignore innovation, don't lose focus on promoting or investing in your brand."
Kaudy said he's always looking ahead and has laid the groundwork to serve the local Hispanic community by establishing a credible infrastructure that includes not only Spanish-language sales collateral and applications but also adding Sunday hours to branches and staffing all members touch points with bilingual personnel.
With this foundation in place Kaudy developed an emotional message playing up the cooperative nature of credit unions.
"In their native country there is a positive feeling about the cooperatives and that connection helps them understand what a credit union is and it is something familiar," said Kaudy. "Our marketing messages promoted via electronic media communicated that Fairfax County FCU was understanding of the challenges faced by immigrating to the United States--from missing friends and family to language, and we focused on reminding them of the positive memories from their homeland."
That meant Spanish electronic media and direct mail supported with branch events themed around South American and Central American cultures. The credit union partnered with local embassy representatives, provided native homeland cuisine and a "Home for the Holidays" trip giveaway and is rolling out a branded checking account product.
In addition, multi-level messaging on local El Zol Spanish radio station and online at elzoleradio.com combined with special incentives, personality testimonials, event marketing, and call-to-action initiatives has helped establish the credit union as a sound financial management partner for the Hispanic community.
"Again we did the buys on radio and Spanish television for the frequency and reach to communicate so we have been going all in because at the end of the day I'm accountable if it doesn't work," said Kaudy. "Penetrating the Hispanic market has been so successful I am shifting additional marketing dollars to the Hispanic media."
Much boils down to market research, he said.
"It's about consistently scanning the markets not just reports, with numbers, but also taking it to the next level of how to help the growth strategy identify individually with the market segment," said Kaudy. "For example in California the Hispanic market was primarily from Mexico, here it's South America and Central America. You have to treat each as their own individual segments because with the different dialects of language you may need different messages."