FISHERS, Ind. -- There is a science to creating an effective credit union ad, and some of the elements might be surprising. At the CU Water Cooler Symposium at FORUM Credit Union, Maya Bourdeau, partner at marketing firm Attune, shared research insights on what slogans, imagery and facts get consumers to consider leaving their bank.
Bourdeau spoke about her experience working with the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues and the Filene Research Institute to develop a print ad campaign for credit unions in California, Nevada and Arizona. The campaign was tested on a sample group comprising 12 people selected to reflect a mix of gender, income level and age. Bourdeau explained that the views of such a diverse group can be extrapolated to determine the views of 100 people.
Several versions of the ad were evaluated against a control group of statewide campaigns, and one particular iteration was found to be most likely to get people to seek more information about credit unions and most likely to be chosen as their favorite ad.
It carries the slogan, "Credit Unions-For People. Not Profit," displays a simple word equation explaining that better rates plus lower fees equal big savings, informs viewers they can save $200 a year on average and directs them to factsaboutcreditunions.com, a website set up for the campaign. The ad features a black and white image of a woman turned away from the viewer with a colorful stream of numbers wrapping around her and leading her forward.
Each component of the ad was carefully chosen based on insights gleaned from the reactions of the sample group. Bourdeau found that a simple slogan free of complex concepts such as ownership works best in a print ad. She said that research and development firm Eureka Ranch learned by tracking the success of 900 products that there is a 70% greater chance of success if the ad can be understood by a 10-year-old. If consumers aren't familiar with the vocabulary in an ad, Bourdeau said, they will assume it isn't meant for them or that the company is trying to hide something.
Additionally, focusing on one number in an ad increases its efficacy by 50%. However, some numbers work better than others. According to Bourdeau, a statement like "Credit unions save their members $7 billion a year" is not as powerful as giving the average savings per individual because people want to know how they will personally benefit. Likewise, if your ad states that your CU offers 10,000 more free ATMs, consumers will wonder how many of them are actually located in their neighborhood.
The name of the website printed on your ad can be another important element of its success. Bourdeau said the informational website touted by the most effective version of the leagues' ad was more appealing to consumers than a website where they could look up a CU in their area because they didn't feel ready to take that step yet. The black and white image helped to differentiate the ad from the typical financial institution campaign and fit in with people's perceptions that things are a little tough right now. However, the multicolored ribbon of numbers gave the impression that there is some hope.
The woman in the ad, whose back is to the viewer, was found to be more relatable than a figure whose face can be seen clearly because it's harder to identify with someone if the focus is on their age and gender, which might differ from the viewer's. Her pose as she walks with her arms outstretched also resonated with viewers because it matches the idea that personal finance is a balancing act while also a evoking carefree feeling. Additionally, Bourdeau said casual clothing, like the woman's t-shirt and jeans, and a natural setting, like the wooded path in the ad, are more appealing to the target consumer than posh attire and luxurious locales.
One thing consumers never find appealing is being told they are wrong. Bourdeau said people tend to value what they already have, so current bank customers will still feel some attachment to their financial institution even if they aren't completely happy with it. Therefore, messages like "Leave your bank" can be perceived as a personal attack.
Bourdeau also said credit unions should not engage in bank bashing because negativity is not the right tone for CUs and doesn't match the industry brand. She recommended that credit unions instead compare themselves favorably to banks and pointed out that you don't even have to mention banks to do so, as demonstrated by the "For People. Not Profits," slogan that came out on top among the sample group.