According to Desert Schools FCU Assistant Vice President of Marketing Cathy Graham, the campaign, developed in-house, came about as a way to strike a balance between promoting sales and service while remaining true to the credit union's philosophy of offering member solutions. The organization as a whole underwent training designed to change the common negative perceptions of sales into recognition that sales drive service and service drives sales.
"So we thought to develop a long-term marketing campaign that could convey how we're listening to our members' financial concerns and we're here to help without saying outright that we offer member solutions," said Graham. "Right now, personal obligations such as mortgage, rent, school, retirement and everyday expenses have become a constant source of stress for many. It's our job to let the market know that we're here for them, that we can help them address the concerns they face every day."
Designed as a true-to-life, relatable campaign, the approach focuses on positively reinforcing Desert Schools FCU's commitment to offering the right solutions for its members' needs with the simple tagline, "We're here for you." With an eye on flexibility, the campaign includes a mix of thought clouds that echo members' financial thoughts and concerns and fully fleshed-out characters with names, personality traits, stories and corresponding financial needs. The characters are a family consisting of two parents in their 50s who have a married daughter with her first baby on the way and a son who is a freshman in college. Graham said the thought clouds can stand alone or work in conjunction with the campaign characters and can be used to build brand awareness or promote specific products or services depending on the credit union's needs at the time.
"We worked on developing the message strategy before the phase one launch of this campaign. Our research showed that it was important that we not employ scare tactics or remind people how bad things are now because they know that already. The message had to be one that would really resonate now and in the future when things turn around," said Graham. "Regardless of whether the economy is good or bad, whether you're 18 or 80, whether you're in need of financial help or simply want to develop a plan for the future, this campaign allows for targeted positive messaging."
She added that while the challenge has been carving out the foundation to build the campaign on, the greatest reward will be the overall savings.
"The flexibility of this message strategy means that we don't need to come up with a new theme every quarter or when the organization has a business need because this single campaign supports the growth effort across all lines of our business," said Graham. "By not re-outfitting branches every quarter, we'll be saving thousands of dollars per branch in branch merchandising alone."
Teaming up with local advertising firm MMA Advertising for production, Desert Schools has unveiled its new campaign via television, radio, print, online and outdoor advertising. To keep the message fresh and up to date, the credit union is going digital for its outdoor boards. In addition, to help cut costs, the credit union will also make more use of its branch video messaging system. Graham says the opportunities are endless, and the team is exploring incorporating a microsite as part of its next phase rollout.
"The strategy is that with the built-in flexibility, we can use this campaign for 12-18 months or longer," said Graham. "The longer a campaign runs, the greater the recognition of the campaign and the corresponding messages. Think about McDonald's 'I'm lovin' it' campaign of the past five years. This could be around just as long where we'd just add a different flavor for specific market needs. For us there are a lot of inherent efficiencies built in."