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CU Times Senior Staff Reporter DOWNEY, Calif. – For Financial Partners Credit Union, perhaps the greatest testament that its Hispanic outreach efforts are making a difference is to be recognized by the Hispanic community itself. The $619 million credit union recently took home the best Spanish-language marketing campaign in the financial services category at the third annual Latino Marketing Awards sponsored by Viacom and Fox Sport en Espaol and other media outlets. The credit union was honored for its efforts aimed at increasing Hispanic awareness of financial products: from home and auto loans to checking accounts and debit cards. The campaign revolved around Spanish-language radio and television commercials and print advertising in such widely read publications as La Opinon. “We are proud to be chosen for this honor from among many large and prestigious banks and other financial services companies,” said Financial Partners CU Marketing Manager Astrid Rives. “Our efforts to reach the Hispanic market have been targeted and carefully implemented and this demonstrates how great communications results can be achieved regardless of the size of an organization.” The credit union entry was one of hundreds of outstanding campaigns by top advertising agencies and their clients considered in the marketing awards. “Since making the change to a community charter we noticed that as we looked out our front door at the Downey branch how much the area had changed just as we had changed and all of a sudden we had this huge Hispanic community here,” said Rives. “We knew things were changing and we couldn’t ignore this segment of the population so we started developing a plan to position ourselves as a financial partner.” Based on a census report 60% of Hispanics are in the Downey area and of that 47 % speak Spanish.More than just developing a campaign the credit union wanted to understand the growing demographic and launched a series of focus groups to determine everything from the community’s needs to how to best communicate and over the course of a year started hiring bilingual staffers for the Downey branch and in its contact centers. In addition, Financial Partners met and teamed up with a variety of Hispanic community leaders. Rives says the slow, steady approach is the only way to truly succeed. “Certain things we knew like if you hit on education and the idea of being a family oriented financial institution there’s an instant appeal,” said Rives. “What we learned is that our Hispanic members were looking for someone that would take the time to provide one-on-one consultations in the language of their choice- one of the key things our focus groups revealed is that they told us they want to `walk in and see more people like me and feel comfortable speaking in Spanish or English’.” The idea of being the financial institution that understands their specific needs is played up in the campaign which invites consumers to “Stop being a client and take the opportunity to become a member and part of something special.” “You cannot just one day decide out of the blue to serve this market-it takes time and more than just a few translated brochures,” said Rives. “If you don’t make the effort to really understand the culture and the community you are just wasting your time.” According to Rives, the campaign highlights the many advantages of joining the credit union rather than simply being a client at a bank. Developed in conjunction with its marketing agency, Irvine, California-based LatinoLandia USA, plans are underway to build on that theme throughout 2005. The campaign got off to a good start as the credit union sponsored the Fiesta de Membresia-a partnership party. The fiesta aired on Spanish radio station KLVE-FM and popular on-air personality Gustavo Neri made a live appearance. “We had a van come out for few hours invited the community to join us and we opened some 33 accounts in just three hours,” said Rives. Rives adds that from 2003 to 2004 the Downey branch membership increased 27% totaling some 490 new members since launching its Hispanic marketing campaign. In addition to the Fiesta, Financial Partners CU offers educational seminars and kicked off local cable commercials starring some of its employees to help members feel more connected to the branch. Staffers are also featured in all printed marketing materials. [email protected]

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