From endearing fuzzy mortgage monsters to cuddly Saint Bernard dogs, wealth seminars for women (with wine thrown in), door knocking, pavement pounding, financial quizzes, social experiments with lost wallets and co-curating campaigns with the gay and lesbian community, credit union marketing campaigns are anything but run of the mill.
Deceptively simple at times, yet bold and creative, credit union campaigns not only grab attention but reaffirm and bolster their institution’s brand. Which is why, for example, in the case of Lakeland Credit Union in Alberta — hard hit by the global drop in oil and gas prices — an initiative to give away free coffee, as a small part of a broader marketing campaign, didn’t simply meet locals’ need for a caffeine fix but was a gesture saying, “we’re here to help.”
Marketing has changed dramatically in just the past few years, with digital campaigns and social media beginning to supplant the venerable platforms of newspapers, television, radio and billboards. Such standbys are still being used judiciously, with digital giving marketing initiatives a longer and more flexible shelf life. As Alterna Savings Credit Union CEO Robert Paterson says, digital and social media allows his institution to have “an ongoing dialogue with Canadians.”
Credit union marketing initiatives can engage an entire community while nurturing and strengthening member commitment. But, that age-old problem still exists: the system suffers from a lack of awareness about the depth and breadth of products and services offered. And this, says Kim Andres, principal of Andres Consulting, which offers a range of strategic planning services for credit unions, means the system should undertake not just local promotions that speak to individual members but provincial and federal initiatives that raise credit unions’ profile and showcase their competitiveness with the Big Five banks. “The national level will raise awareness around the generic credit union brand and the provincial level will help reinforce that brand while also catering to a narrower audience,” Andres says.
For “The art of marketing,” Enterprise looked at seven organizations from across the country whose campaigns — current as well as in the past— show how inventive, dynamic and powerful credit union marketing campaigns can be.