HARBOR, Ore. – Chetco Federal Credit Union wants to make sure area newborns are on board for a healthy, prosperous financial future. The over $232 million credit union kicked off Operation New Parent in a bid to promote membership while celebrating the arrival of a new baby. In the three counties that CFCU serves, an average total of 1,063 new babies are born each year – creating an opportunity that CFCU Strategic Marketing Planner Janice Scanlon says they couldn’t pass on. “We started planning for this since June of last year when quite frankly we found a competitor bank advertising `We love new babies’ with a giveaway. We knew we could take it further by creating a more in-depth relationship-based movement,” said Scanlon. “The lifetime value of new baby members is an inexact science but we know that joining while young often leads to a lifelong relationship with the credit union-so what better way to deepen our relationship with existing members and gain new members while promoting goodwill in the community.” Informal focus groups and surveys of pregnant staffers and members helped CFCU identify just what new moms would appreciate and find attractive. “It really helped us figure out just what they would really like to come home with and what they want. From colors used on an undated calendar, to a cute little pig, we knew specifically what would tap into their emotions. That warm fuzzy feeling generated also helped further set us apart from other financial institutions,” said Scanlon. “We do that with everything we do around here. We love our members and know they are why we are here so to be able to offer them something as important as setting their newborns on the road to a healthy financial life means everything.” With a total budget of $11,301, in January 2005, CFCU unveiled the New Baby welcome program. Branch managers dropped off gift packages containing a blank calendar to record the new baby’s special firsts; a Happy Birthday card that contained the child’s first silver dollar; and an invitation for parents to visit a local CFCU branch to receive a free pink or blue pig that has been reserved just for their little bundle of joy and to encourage them to open baby’s first savings account at area hospitals and obstetric physicians’ offices. With a three-pronged approach, given privacy issues and concerns, Scanlon says they asked hospital heads how to best proceed with giving the new parents this gift. One hospital just included the welcome package as part of the information provided to new parents when they are discharged. While the other two hospitals didn’t feel comfortable with that, they did suggest speaking to area doctors. So CFCU also placed displays with its business cards in area OB/GYN office lobbies. With one branch located in a small town where everyone knows each other and places all their birth announcements in the local paper, Scanlon had branch staffers go through the newspaper and mail the welcome packs directly to families. All names are kept in a database so as the baby grows the credit union can continue to meet their changing needs. “By far our best results have come from the hospital drop-offs,” said Scanlon. “I think it is because parents take it home, they have an opportunity to recuperate and go through the offers of lovely free things and it doesn’t require a lot of work on their part. They can just come in pick up the free pig and we put in the balance or the full $5 member share and they can keep the silver dollar for their baby as a keepsake.” Despite the challenges in how to locate and reach new parents, the program has been a wild success. Nearly 10% of all the new babies born during 2005 within the CFCU market area are now members with a collective account balance of $125,397. The average balance for each account is $1,766. Scanlon says one of the pleasant unexpected side benefits has been the number of grandparents wanting to open accounts for their grandchildren. In addition, the program has evolved to include the hosting of quarterly Community Baby Showers to provide new baby attire and care needs to lower-income parents. Each branch coordinates the delivery of the items to area hospitals and doctor’s offices where the care providers would offer the gifts to those new parents who need it most. Scanlon has plans to do more with the program. Ideas range from increasing publicity during high-birth months and placing ads in the classifieds under the baby miscellaneous section, to developing cooperative relationships with local baby apparel retailers. “There are so many ways to grow this next year and in the future,” said Scanlon. “My advice for credit unions interested in a similar program is to develop relationships with OB/GYNs, hospitals and really talk to your pregnant members as they walk in to find out what they want. You may find they want little pink or blue booties instead of piggy banks or maybe there is an opportunity to form a cooperative relationship with not only practitioners but also popular baby store retailers. The possibilities are endless, but it all starts with asking the member first.” [email protected]

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