INDIANAPOLIS – When pundits start talking about which U.S. credit union performed the biggest about-face in marketing strategy in 2004, then by most accounts the $846 million Indiana Members CU wins a top prize. Indeed, the state’s second largest CU, seeing itself behind large banks in public visibility and on brand image, waged what it called “its most extensive media campaign” on TV in its 48-year history. In fact, Indiana Members had over the years shunned TV ads as nonproductive, but following lengthy research-and the hiring of a local marketing consultant-it launched a blanket-style campaign on TV and radio under a “Keeping It Simple” theme. One result: more than 1,400 new checking accounts in a period from May 1-Sept. 30. The CU has 91,000 members, many of them employees of large Indianapolis hospitals. Ron Collier, president/CEO of Indiana Members, said the reason for launching a TV blitz was to carve out a special niche for his CU in a period when the financial market “with a countless number of checking account options and in-branch perks” can appear confusing to consumers. Indeed, “we found out that our members want to get in and out” of branches with business handled quickly, professionally “and positively.” Surveys showed, he said, that was not happening and so Indiana Members ran TV and radio ads displaying members “doing the things they enjoy most with peace of mind regarding their financial matters.” Hence, the tagline, “Keeping It Simple” was created, he said. Pennie Herbert, director of community development for Indiana Members, said ever since Indiana Members received its community charter in 2002, a management goal has been to “educate the general public in central Indiana about credit unions,” a message that was sometimes hard to convey amidst a blizzard of bank ads. Indiana Members has sought to broadcast a message “that we want to save our members time by making every aspect of banking simple” with the surveys showing that “simplifying banking functions” was important to members. The CU message was aimed to show a difference, she said, to banking ads which encourage customers to “come in for coffee, e-mail and Internet access.” While commendable, Indiana Members simply wants “to get transactions completed” and get members out the door “to move on to the fun things in life.” During the height of the campaign the CU was running a 30-second TV spot on average 140 times per month, still considered an expensive buy. To help set the right tone, said Collier, Indiana Members hired a well-known Indianapolis consultant Joe Bennett, owner of a successful TV/radio and film production agency here to create the commercials and help train the staff. As compared to the high visibility of Bank One, Evansville-based Old National Bank, or Huntington National “people really did not know Indiana Members” or were they familiar with services that were being offered, said Bennett. The job, he said, was to create “an image and name recognition” that stressed “the value of time” by making the consumer feel comfortable that Indiana Members would be able to help “when things might be spinning out of control.” Previous Indiana Members advertising had been limited to a few cable spots with product mentions but never a sustained campaign. But the summer campaign proved successful in building membership, said Bennett. Herbert said training of the CU’s 250 employees began three months prior to the launch of the campaign. The kick-off included an “Opening Day” celebration to introduce the commercials and a staff meeting “which was not mandatory” but drew 220 employees, said Herbert. The goal of the “Keeping It Simple” message was aimed at elevating the CU’s “image and brand” over the next three to five years. “Externally, the message will be that we will simplify our members’ lives through extraordinary service, compassionate problem solving, superior product knowledge, low fees, low loan rates, high savings and certificate rates,” wrote Donna Hasty, vice president of CU development. In a “Play Book” summary for staff, she wrote that the goal is to create for members “an enjoyable experience every time they come into one of our branches.” [email protected]

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