''Receive a free toaster when you open an account.''
For years, Americans opened checking and savings accounts to collect
this prized appliance. But today's credit unions are taking customer
promotions to a new level - beyond ''door prizes'' to more
strategic, substantive programs designed to not only attract new
customers but keep existing customers ''for life.''
Creativity, innovation and business savvy are the keys to developing
programs and promotions that value members … and that members
will value. Following are a few suggestions to get your marketing
- Classes and Seminars: Most credit unions offer an introductory
course for first-time credit union members. However, opportunities
exist to educate members beyond the basics. As a financial institution,
credit unions have experts with knowledge that can enhance members'
lives, from investing to financial literacy to credit and checking
account maintenance. Complimentary classes in these areas can
be great value-adds for customers. So, too, are classes in fields
connected to credit union services. For example, consider enlisting
the assistance of a local real estate agent to offer a seminar
on first-time home buying, including tips on mortgages, inspections,
types of homes, closing costs and the loan process. The discussion
would logically end with the agent referring members back to the
credit union to begin the prequalification process for a home
- Partnerships: In a quest to offer members the highest
quality service, credit unions are looking beyond their own organization
and into the local business community. Partnering with other credit
unions enables you to enhance options available to members, drawing
on the strength of either an enlarged member base or the individual
strengths of each credit union. Business partners allow credit
unions to combine an already existing service with complimentary
business strengths. For example, more and more credit unions,
including several of the nation's largest, are partnering with
Enterprise Car Sales, a division of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the
largest rental car company in North America. Enterprise enhances
credit unions' vehicle loan portfolios by developing comprehensive
used car programs that guarantee credit unions handle all financing
on Enterprise vehicles purchased by members, creating a win-win
for credit unions and members. Enterprise provides customers both
direct and Internet access to more than 120 makes and models of
quality late-model certified used vehicles priced below Kelly
Blue Book or NADA retail value.
- Events: Events allow credit unions to demonstrate gratitude
toward their members by taking customer service one step further.
Many credit unions hold annual member appreciation days. These
events can include free food/barbeques, dances, games, prizes,
or more practical promotions such as reduced-rate loans for current
members. These allow employees to continue to build relationships
with members in a fun environment.
Eye up future customers, many credit unions in conjunction with
children savings accounts hold children-centered events. From
monthly kids clubs to annual day-long festivals, starting a credit
union relationship at an early age is becoming reality.
- Giveaways and Scholarships: As noted earlier, credit
union giveaways are as old as credit unions themselves. Today,
however, prizes have increased in size and strategic position.
Originally used to encourage initial membership, giveaways have
broadened to include increased or new usage of services such as:
- A chance to win an exotic vacation each time a member uses their
- Free gas for six months with an auto loan
- Home cleaning kits for members opening a new line of home equity
- Palm pilot drawing for members using e-statements
While giveaways can unexpectedly enhance members' lives, scholarships
give credit unions the opportunity to fulfill members' ambitions.
From hundreds to thousand of dollars, the educational benefits of
a scholarship can help a member achieve success and potentially
become a more profitable long-term member.