HOBOKEN, N.J. -- Shred day events so commonly held by credit unions may seem like a simple way to promote green practices and member security, but actually they can do much more for a credit union than many may think.
Shred days are relatively inexpensive and in some cases free events that credit unions can hold to promote products and gain new members.
Langley Federal Credit Union in Hampton, Va., holds shred events on an annual basis and recently held one on Oct. 18. Brett Noll, senior vice president/chief marketing officer said that the credit union is able to hold shred days at no cost.
"We contacted a shredding company called Shred-it, and they were willing to give us the truck in exchange for advertising. We put their logo on all our event materials and have their logo displayed at the event," Noll said.
Noll said Langley also has office companies donate personal shredders that the credit union raffles off.
Redwood Credit Union in Santa Rosa, Calif. held its annual shred-a-thon back in August, and Robin McKenzie, senior vice president of marketing and public relations, said that they also used Shred-it at their events at no cost.
"We looked at the shred company that provides service for us here, and they weren't able to provide service in the capacity we needed for the event. Shred-it is in our field of membership so they were a perfect partner," McKenzie said.
City of Boston Credit Union, held two shred events this month, one on Oct. 11 and one on Oct. 16. Karla McCarron, marketing director at the credit union, said that the shredding services were paid for by a radio station the credit union had contracted with to work some of their events. McCarron said that they had about 30 people attend each event but that they did have a few people come that were not members that went into the credit union and joined after they used the shredding service.
LaTrease Cunningham, director of sales and marketing at Corporate America Family Credit Union in Elgin, Ill., said that the CU pays $200 per hour to the shredding company they use and holds events for typically three hours. She said that one of the deciding factors in choosing a company to use was that some companies required a minimum amount of hours and the company they chose did not.
Janet Garcia, business development officer at Advance Financial Credit Union in East Chicago, Ind., said they looked at several different shred companies before deciding on Eco-Shred in Chicago because it offered the lowest cost. Garcia said that they had not thought of negotiating advertising in exchange for service, but that it was a good idea.
Sandy Brillowski, vice president of marketing at Hawthorne Credit Union in Naperville, Ill., said that they went with the company that provides shredding services to the credit union. Even though the company offered no discount Brillowski said since the credit union offers a shred event once a month the company was flexible with the days and hours needed and was willing to stay longer during events if needed.
"We talked to them about providing services in exchange for advertising, but they weren't open to that. We're in a large market and are a small credit union. Credit unions in a smaller market might have more leverage," Brillowski said.
Noll said that last year when Langley started offering a product called privacy guard, they used the shred event to promote the product to members and nonmembers. Langley holds its shred events on Saturdays for six hours and Noll said that they typically have anywhere from 200 to 250 people show up.
Brillowski said that Hawthorne also promotes any specials the credit union has going on at the time and uses the event to recruit members by providing information about the credit union and uses the event to cross sell products.
"What I love about these shred days is that it's a benefit to both members and nonmembers and it makes them walk onto our property and shake hands with the staff," Brillowski said.
Paired with its shred day, Redwood Credit Union holds a free identity protection educational seminar to make up its shred-a-thon. McKenzie said that it had an attendance of 270 to 300 people at its shred-a-thon this year, which was 100 people more than last year and it had 45 to 50 people attend the seminar.
"The reality is that we live in a time where people are concerned with their financial data, and people are confused in how to respond," McKenzie said.
Garcia said that next year Advance Financial is looking to pair their shred events with a seminar or meeting but didn't have the time to plan for that this year.
Brillowski said that the seminar is something that her credit union is actually going to cut out of their events next year.
"We started off with a seminar, and I know other credit unions have been successful with it, but we couldn't get the attendance. I would definitely say give it a try, but it didn't work for us."
Brillowski did say that the credit union will still continue to hand out educational materials at the events though.
In conjunction with its iBelong statewide marketing campaign, the Illinois Credit Union League made the months of June and October shred months and urged credit unions across the state to hold shred events.
"We wanted to add a pubic relations piece to the campaign. Shred events are easy for credit unions to hold and implement," said William Wille, public relations coordinator at the league.
Brillowski is a member of the iBelong committee and suggested the statewide shred day events because of the success that Hawthorne saw with their events.
Hawthorne started offering shred events in May 2007 and didn't receive the attendance they wanted at the first event. Brillowski said the credit union then began offering the event the first Saturday of every month at rotated branches, and they now have people lining up before the events start.
"We already have people asking about our 2009 schedule. People really rely on it and collect their materials every month to come. We've received excellent feedback and people really appreciate the service."
Wille said that they had a lot of credit unions and chapters that held shred events for the first time as part of the iBelong campaign.
"It's really one of those events where you have to hold them a few times to draw a crowd," Wille said.
The league provided tips and information to credit unions about shred events to help guide the credit unions.
Wille said they suggested holding events on Saturday mornings and to utilize all communication vehicles the credit union has to promote the event. The league suggested credit unions try to get the service donated to them and awarded community service grants up for $500 for credit unions as well. The league also provided credit unions information on anticipated costs to hold the event.
"We got really good feedback from credit unions. It's good community service and credit unions got nonmembers to attend the event," Wille said. "We have several credit unions repeating the event for the month of October."
On its Web site, www.iculeague.org/awareness, the league asked credit unions that held shred events in June to fill out an evaluation form about the experience. They will continue to have the form up and hope to generate response from credit unions that held events in October as well.
"This being the second month, we also wanted to make sure credit unions understood this is a great marketing event as well. We want them to have brochures out and maximize the time," Wille said. "We encourage them to hold identity talks to get the members into their locations and provide food to get people there."