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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – When it comes to credit union marketing, less can sometimes lead to fabulous results. “Marketing campaigns can look good, but if it doesn’t work it’s not a good one,” said CEFCU Vice President of Marketing Sue Yoder. Yoder says what has proved successful for CEFCU has been differentiating itself from the competition. A simple black and white print ad of an oversized asterisk with the tagline “Sure it looks harmless. CEFCU Visa Card. Outstanding Value. (asterisk not included)”, that ran for about three weeks has helped double credit card application volume by nearly 82% – exceeding the marketing goal by 26%. “I think the reason it worked so well was because it was very focused, member oriented and visually distinct,” said CEFCU Marketing Manager Jennifer Flexer. “We showed them why we’re different. The biggest mistake is to get lost, you have to give people reason to stop and read your ad.” A similar strategy worked well for San Antonio-based FirstMark Credit Union’s year-long membership campaign, which urged members to tell their neighbors, family, friends and employees about the benefits of belonging to the credit union for a chance to win a getaway. Prizes ranged from a trip for two to Cancun Mexico and a trip for two to South Padre, to four tickets to Fiesta Texas and $100 spending money. A targeted mix of outdoor, direct mail statement stuffers, lobby posters and counter cards, helped increase membership by a whopping 8.98% compared to the national average member growth of 2%. “The competition from banks and credit unions here is incredible, so for us the outdoor ads made a big difference and are a must,” said FirstMark CU Vice President of Marketing/PR Jennifer Griffith. “We can’t compete with brick and mortar so we focused on promoting our convenience and service – from debit/credit cards and e-statements to ATMs and bill pay- it all helps people understand who we are.” Marketing professionals agree that while there is no one-size-fits-all answer to marketing campaigns that click, proper research is a great foundation. Quarterly surveys help FirstMark CU check the pulse of both its members’ and employees’ wants and needs while gauging how the credit union is doing in terms of service. “Our member satisfaction rate is 96.5% and we pride ourselves on that and that is incorporated into why members should come here,” said Griffith. “For us, we have a three pronged approach to gathering information. In addition to our quarterly mailed survey we send out email surveys to find out whether members like the site and provide postcards to our drive-thru members to check our service. We get tons of responses and that makes for a good way to keep in touch with what is going on in our organization.” Yoder agrees and adds that “marketing cannot exist in a vacuum- it boils down to positioning and working with all the talented people at the credit union to deliver the right message to the right member at the right time.” Over in Vacaville, California the mix of research and simplicity drive most Travis Credit Union campaigns. Recognizing a trend that free bill pay appealed to more profitable households and could strengthen member relationships, a free bill pay campaign has boosted the credit union’s online banking from 1,800 to 6,500. Travis CU Vice President of Marketing Cathy Rios says it took months of research and two separate attempts to show management and the board with specific supporting statistics and surveys that the timing was not only right but also what could be lost if the credit union got into free bill pay too late. The campaign itself featured someone jumping into the air and the words “Wow free online bill paying.” Rios said the simple message and listing reasons why members should sign up made a big impact. “I can’t stress how important it is to do the research. If the campaign fails ask why – don’t just keep doing what’s always been done. Ask what is the problem and usually it boils down to either the message isn’t simple enough or it’s not targeting the right people,” said Rios. Rios adds there is a lot to learn from campaigns that don’t go as planned. For example, Travis CU in an effort to lure indirect lenders to use other credit union services had sent letters to members about the benefits of membership and included a coupon for a $20 gas card. Rios says members didn’t even nibble. Rios, with feedback from a friend who happened to be a member, realized that the campaign’s biggest problem was that the information in the letter was so complex that members were never even getting to the coupon part. “Sometimes it is hard to remember to just keep it simple and from that humbling experience we started to brainstorm for ideas that would get members to really read our message,” said Rios. The result was a switch from form letters to sending a “car-in-the-box.” Boxes containing a small florescent car attached with a postcard thanking members for their loan and inviting them to bring the postcard to any branch to pick up their free $20 gas card proved to be a hit. “The information on that postcard was identical to what was in the letter but the fun package helped us entice members to open our mailing,” said Rios. “We started out small and in a two month period about 37 households opened about 51 new accounts with us resulting in a 447% ROI-all because we kept it simple and fun.” [email protected]

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