AUSTIN, Texas – Anticipating large expenses for a major summer car loan promotion this summer, Greater Texas Federal Credit Union was looking for an inexpensive, yet effective, way to generate loan activity this spring. What they came up with is not only boosting loan activity but also is building employee morale. The credit union decided to hook into VISA Debit Processing Services’ national “Bring It Home,” credit/check card promotion to avail themselves of low-cost, professional marketing support materials. And because the theme seemed a natural fit, the credit union would market its mortgage and home equity loans at the same time. But Bridget Brandt, the credit union’s marketing director, knew the two-month promotion would need employee support. The campaign would not utilize direct mail; it just wasn’t in the budget. Selling the services would have to happen within the branches. The challenge was making this easy for credit union personnel. “We’ve found that our employees don’t mind talking about our services, but they don’t like bringing it up. So our goal was to create something so unusual inside the credit union that members would have to ask what was going on,” Brandt said. The “unusual” came as a result of an employee contest in which credit union departments were encouraged to decorate their workspaces relating to the “Bring It Home” promotion theme. “Teams were encouraged to think outside of the box and have fun decorating. We had 100% participation in all 13 of our branches – a first for the credit union. Judges were brought in from our board and supervisory committee, and the top three teams were awarded prizes. The grand prize was cash. Our employees are very money-driven,” Brandt laughed. Competition was stiff, with some departments decorating late the night before the judging occurred, so as to maintain the confidentiality of their design. Accounting boasted the winning entry, “Going to Nana’s House,” in which the department recreated rooms from grandma’s house. Employees from other departments suggested that accounting bribed contest judges with baked cookies, however they didn’t complain long, as they received cookies, too. Other entries included a gingerbread house, a hula hut, Candyland, and even a patriotic “bring home our troops” display. To further support the promotion, which ends May 31, the credit union and VISA are offering employee incentives to promote the services to members. Each time a member applies for one of the loans, the employee gets a scratch off card that gives them a chance to win a variety of prizes, ranging from Blockbuster or Pizza Hut gift cards to $5,000 in cash. Members have the opportunity to register for the VISA national promotion’s grand prize of $15,000. The credit union also has held several free home-buying seminars to educate members on the benefits and process of purchasing a home. “Our members have really enjoyed seeing all of the decorations, and the contest has increased employee morale and excitement. Participation was so strong, we had a pizza party for employees one Friday,” Brandt said. The credit union is thrilled with promotion results. In the first three weeks of the promotion, the credit union approved 28 new credit cards, 34 debit cards, and 13 home equity loans, roughly three times its norm. Mortgage loans, a new service at the credit union, have gone from a pre-promotion $1.2 million to $3.9 million in three weeks. The cost of this promotion? $795 – plus pizza. [email protected]

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