Radio and television commercials used to be the only audio/video production costs in a credit union budget, but the industry is ushering in a new era of entertainment, education and engagement by investing in podcasts, webinars, product demo videos, lobby reels and other audio/video services.
And by boosting investments in audio and video productions, many credit unions are gaining public attention, new members and other benefits.
“In today’s digital age, credit unions have to get information to members in a more efficient manner and in ways that engage the audience,” said Joe Keller, vice president of digital media for the California League Services Corp and C-Sun Studios, a digital media and video service located inside the California/Nevada Credit Union League headquarters in Ontario, Calif.
Growing demand for video and audio prompted the league to launch the studio last year by utilizing audio and video equipment that previously belonged to the failed Western Corporate Federal Credit Union, said Keller, who was previously director of web technology at WesCorp.
“There is definitely a demand for cost-efficient production services for credit unions,” he said. “C-Sun Studio is a state-of-the-art, full production facility with all the bells and whistles.”
“Whether its on-site conference shooting, video streaming or 3D animation, if you have the budget, we can do almost anything,” he continued. “We can help credit unions put together a simple podcast, a television commercial or live streaming, starting around $500.”
One of the biggest challenges in creating engaging videos, Keller said, is to make sure the message meshes with the audience. It must be simple to understand, entertaining and well scripted.
“We help with everything from the scripting to the shooting,” he added. “We even have a mobile studio to shoot on location.”
With the growing popularity of video, he said, the studio has been busy lately with an array of projects, including creating videos for CUNA’s “Don’t Tax My Credit Union” campaign and the RMJ Foundation’s “Bite of Reality” financial literacy program.
Keller said credit unions can use C-Sun Studios to promote upcoming events, deliver up-to-date news via webcasts, create engaging educational programing and demo videos, leverage video and audio tools to spread a message and record audio to accompany PowerPoint or Prezi presentations.
For some credit unions, audio/video/digital productions are simple and low-cost, while others involve larger investments of time, energy and talent, such as professional acting, lighting, voice overs or other technical expertise, he said.
To introduce members to a new bill pay product, the $793 million Financial Partners Credit Union recently created a 30-second demo video at C-Sun Studios for about $1,500, said Melia Keller, vice president of marketing and public relations at the 50,000-member credit union in Downey, Calif.
“C-Sun pricing is surprisingly inexpensive for the resources and quality they provide,” Melia Keller said. “They are substantially less expensive than a commercial production, about a tenth the cost. I have used other video firms in the past that were on the lower cost side, but they did not have the sound proof studio, green screen, sound microphones, and other high tech resources that C-Sun has to assure quality.”
Financial Partners plans to imbed the video into an email split by age demographic to members with checking and without bill pay, she said.
“We’ll then track each group’s open and response rate from our original lists,” she said. “If the demonstration video is successful, we plan to implement a series to help our members quickly learn how to use many of our more technical products.”
Creating a video can be a lot of work—and fun—for everyone involved.
“The C-Sun crew were perfectionists in making sure the lighting, sound and camera angles were just right for each shot,” Melia Keller said. “They were very creative and came up with quick solutions to resolve any production issues. Overall the experience was collaborative and fun, thanks to the friendly nature of the crew.”
The $442 million 121 Financial Credit Union in Jacksonville, Fla., recently hired a Florida video production company to film aerial footage of branch locations by using a helicopter drone equipped with camera gear.
In addition to using the content in television commercials, 121 Financial added the video to its website on the location information page. It has also been utilized by the credit union’s security team and incorporated into the new employee training process, said Cindy Breslin, vice president of marketing.
Breslin declined to specify how much it spent on the video, but said the investment is proving worthwhile.
“We got a special rate on the production costs and the feedback we’re getting from new members is that it has helped them to locate the branch, while existing members invariably say ‘cool!’ So the video is doing its job,” she said.
The $475 million IC Federal Credit Union spent about $38,000 last year to create a six-part video campaign that featured robots, zombies and other characters, said Pati Maguy, a marketing specialist at the 21,000-member credit union in Fitchburg, Mass.
One of the videos, featuring “Credit Card Murphy,” a guitar-playing credit card with the persona of a bluesman, has landed more than 420,000 views on YouTube since April, 2013.
“The Financial Brand recently named us No. 1 on YouTube, so the videos have been getting even more attention,” Maguy said.
She added that the goal of the videos was to attract young members, and from Feb. 2012 when they were posted to Feb. 2013, new Gen-Y membership soared 51%.
To create the videos, IC relied on James and Matthew and Company, a Boston-based digital advertising agency.
Creating content that resonates with members is key to a successful video, according to the agency’s co-owner Jim Pond.