It looks to be another big year for the “dump your bank” marketing campaigns that were fired up by credit unions in 2010 as media coverage mounted on the woes of big banks.
From Virginia to Washington State, CUs were making the most of negative local and national TV coverage of higher bank fees by making comparisons and tweaking the competition.
In many cases the CU branding strategy of hitting on banking’s problems was working to bring in new members and loan business.
Over the Fourth of July holiday, the $1.2 billion BayPort CU of Newport News, Va., used a small aircraft trailing “Ditch Your Bank” streamers over Virginia beaches to convey the message while also conducting a parallel push online and on television, radio and billboards.
The BayPort Ditch Your Bank campaign began in June and advanced with the creative talent put together by the Florida-based Foolproof Group of financial literacy fame. According to Monte Crowl, vice president-marketing, BayPort is looking for a 20% jump in new accounts by year end as a result.
And in Richland, Wash., the $1 billion Gesa CU, one of the early pioneers of dump your bank branding, said it brought in 700 new members from its own version of the campaign as it welcomed other CUs to take advantage of opportunities as national publications reported on bank fee policies.
“We say welcome to the party,” declared James Delyea, senior vice president of Gesa, which retains its online “Ditch Your Bank and Switch to Gesa” message as it switches attention this year to various new promotions for home equity loans and an upcoming member celebration.
Elsewhere, the $545 million Consumers CU of Waukegan Ill., said it has been having notable success with a dump your bank campaign and attributed the CU’s growth this year to the blitz.
“When all the negative publicity hit last year, Consumers decided it was a great time to encourage unhappy bank customers to move to a credit union,” explained Hal Coxon, vice president of sales and marketing.
“New member growth for 2011 is approximately 14% and just under 8% net,” said Coxon, adding that member gains last year “were double our 2009 growth, and 2009 was slightly above the credit union average.”
“Our campaign grew in stages,” explained Coxon. “We first introduced the ‘8 Great Reasons’ to use a credit union instead of a bank, soliciting ideas from all staff and receiving wonderful feedback.”
The $1.3 billion Educators CU of Racine, Wis. said its “Bank Free” viral campaign launched six months ago is now just shy of its halfway goal–a gain of 4,800 new members–toward an 11,000 member goal at year end.
In detailing the Fourth of July blitz, Crowl of BayPort said the Virginia CU had 22 CU staffers pumping gas for more than 150 noncredit union members with the first person in line at 3 a.m. Marilyn Bennett, creative services administrator, said people were excited about getting the $20 in free gas and “it was like they were on the fence about whether they should really leave their bank with the campaign convincing them they should could and should. One person went directly to a branch and joined.”
Traffic on a special DitchYourBank.com website has now reached 1,000 with the campaign slated to continue until the fall “and maybe indefinitely,” said Crowl.
In a separate development last week, DitchYourBank.com Inc. a Minneapolis-based marketing affiliate of the FoolProof Initiative said it has added two complete consumer websites to its own national ditch campaign.
"We're providing these websites at no extra cost for credit unions that want to include more consumer advocacy in their ditch campaigns,” said DYB President Renier Chris. The websites normally cost $12,000, said Chris, but will be provided for free.
As provider of those websites, FoolProof, which has long promoted its financial literacy endorsement by state credit union leagues and the Consumer Federation of America, said it holds a trademark on the phrase, “Ditch Your Bank.”
DYB said it will be giving free use of it to any credit union that wants to do its own ditch campaign. DYB said it has trademarked the slogan to mainly protect it from being swooped up by some bank or bank group. “No bank would have the nerve to offer true consumer advocacy to its customers. If they did, the bank would have to recommend that their customers join credit unions,” Chris said.