St. Patrick's Day Has Credit Unions Seeing Green
Like many holidays, St. Patrick's Day offered an opportunity for credit unions to boost brand awareness and member engagement in an array of ways.
The marketing efforts take a lot of forms, from participating in parades and festivals to special rates for loans and savings. There also are parades and festivals. For example, the $195 million Mass Bay Credit Union signed up to help sponsoring the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade, one of the country's oldest (113 years) and largest St. Paddy events, which draws approximately 600,000 to 1 million people each year, the credit union said.
And a growing number of credit unions are devising new promotions that incorporate social media, contests and other methods of engaging members, which can build awareness and showcase the credit union philosophy.
For instance, Facebook played a big role in an effort that began in January at the $1 billion Hanscom Federal Credit Union in Massachusetts and culminated with a four-day St. Patty's Day promotion with a Pot O’ Gold feature that included choosing a token out of a lucky leprechaun pot at its branches to win prizes, ranging from candy bars to $50 worth of MemberPoints when opening a new credit card, the credit union said.
Turning things green is a tradition, too, and it took dramatic form in Florida, where Grow Financial Credit Union, in partnership with the city of Tampa, planned to participate in the color change at the Hillsborough River “Grow Financial” green on March 15 as part of the annual Mayor's River O’Green celebration.
“We are thrilled to be the presenting sponsor of the Mayor's River O’Green for the third year in a row”, said Allen Milliron, director of corporate sponsorships for the $1.9 billion Tampa institution. The promotion also included plans for a tent located next to a 30-foot-high tower with the Grow Financial logo branded on it and T-shirts customized with what festival goers “want more of,” a theme of Grow Financial's new campaign.
Meanwhile, thanks to Spokane Teachers’ Credit Union, a Washington educator seemed to be blessed with the luck of the Irish. The $1.85 billion STCU selected Steve Barnes, principal of Holmes Elementary School, as winner of the 2014 Principal on Parade contest, according to the credit union's website.
During a surprise celebration on March 7, STCU presented the school with a $1,000 donation and announced that Barnes, along with the student who submitted the contest nomination, would be guests of honor in the city's St. Patrick's Day parade, the credit union said.
The contest was co-sponsored by 121,000-member STCU and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, a non-profit group formed in 1979 that organizes the annual parade, the credit union said. Hundreds of nominations were received for the contest, the credit union said.
As an organization founded by teachers, STCU has a long history of supporting schools.
“In particular, the credit union looks for opportunities to reinforce positive behavior and respect within the classroom,” said Traci McGlathery, STCU's community relations manager. “Principal on Parade fosters respect by encouraging students to think about why they look up to their principal as a mentor and a role model. It encourages them to put down in writing the appreciation that some students may be reluctant to express in person,” she said.
“The importance of this program isn't so much the parade, as the opportunity it gives us to celebrate with the entire student body of that school,” McGlathery added. “It's our way of saying that good role models are so important that we want to make sure they’re recognized, by the students as well as the community.”
At Hanscom FCU, based at Hanscom Air Force Base in the Bay State, the promotion came to its conclusion after St. Patrick's Day but included similar activities in branches since January involving prizes, charity donations and other member engagement activities, which have been featured on Hanscom's Facebook page.
“The St. Patrick's Day promotion, in particular, gives us a chance to talk with members about a product or service in a casual, natural way,” said Steve Silva, Hanscom FCU's vice president of marketing. “Then we can extend our reach by posting photos to Facebook.”
At the $270 million SunWest Federal Credit Union in Phoenix, the holiday was about shamrocks and share accounts. A holiday-themed splash page on its website encouraged members to create their own pot of gold by investing and saving. With one click on the site's home page, members are redirected to a page with details about share accounts, money market accounts, share certifications and Individual Retirement Accounts.
SunWest also invited members to participate in a St. Patrick's Day fundraiser. Paper shamrocks were sold to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the credit union said.
“To do our part in the fight against muscular dystrophy, we started selling shamrocks in each of our seven SunWest locations,” the credit union's blog said. “You can stop by any branch and purchase a green shamrock for $1 or a gold shamrock for $5. Of course, you are always welcome to purchase/donate any denomination of your choosing.”
The shamrocks were displayed throughout the branches and proceeds would be donated to the MDA, the credit union said.