#RelationshipGoals For A California Credit Union

CommonWealth Central strikes a chord with a campaign that builds excitement among staff, members, and community.


CommonWealth Central Credit Union
Data as of 03.31.18

HQ:San Jose,CA
ROA: 0.52%

CommonWealth Central Credit Union($522.3M, San Jose, CA) rode the power of an innovative marketing campaign to earn the prestigious MACQUEE Award at this year’s Marketing Association of Credit Unions (MAC) Conference.

Entering its 60th year and confronting a highly competitive, overbanked market in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, CommonWealth recognized it needed a new approach to growing membership and building deeper relationships. Without using an outside agency, the credit unions internal marketing team built a comprehensive, multi-channel campaign from scratch around the concept of #RelationshipGoals. ContentMiddleAd

We wanted it to be something different than simply pushing product or advertising a special rate,says Jennifer DAmico, vice president of marketing at CommonWealth. We wanted something fun and exciting that would appeal toa younger audience. That’s where the relationship goalsidea was born. We tried to think of the parallels we could create between your financial relationship and a relationship you might have with a significant other, a parent, ora friend.

Although the campaign featured a trendy hashtag and relied heavily on social media, traditional direct mail also played a critical role.

Jennifer DAmico, Vice President of Marketing, CommonWealth Central Credit Union

CommonWealth sent mailers to existing members living near one of its five branches. The collateral promoted the credit unions online banking, mobile banking, and self-directed personal financial management tool via irreverent messaging like, ;Wehave something great going on here, but how can we make our relationship even stronger?Messages like,If you love CommonWealth, why not share the love? offered members $50 for friends and family referrals that resulted in a newchecking account.

CommonWealth also sent direct mail to non-members within its Santa Clara County branch footprint. That piece offered new members $100 to open a checking account and featured the on-point message of,$100 says you’ll love us.

Beyond direct mail, the campaign also was supported by in-branch posters, digital signage, and referral cards. Armed with information sheets, branch staff competed for a new Amazon Echo or Echo Dot and tracked their individual campaign results throughinternal leader boards. Members who opened a checking account or signed up for a new online service also were eligible to win an Amazon voice-enabled device through a separate contest.

This created some fun in the branches and got our staff talking about the program,DAmico says.We had outstanding engagement, and people were excited to win their Echo or Echo Dot.

Finally, CommonWealth promoted the #RelationshipGoals theme through both organic and paid social media postings. CommonWealth regularly posted on both Facebook and Instagram, offering special checking account deals and encouraging the referral program,all while actively using the hashtag to extend reach and engagement.

The formal campaign ended in May 2017, but the credit union still uses the #RelationshipGoals messaging and hashtag on social media today.

One of the awesome things about a campaign like this is that it didn’t have a shelf life because we were promoting a rate or something really specific, DAmico says.We continue to see engagement on our social media metrics.

Impressive Results

The multi-pronged approach has paid off.

CommonWealth set a target of 10% year-over-year lift in new memberships and checking accounts during the formal campaign. It achieved that and more opening 27% more checking accounts and recording a 19% increase in new members during the campaign versus the same period in 2016.

And the campaign continues to pay dividends.

The referral program remains active, with 38% of new members in 2018 coming directly from member referrals. These members are also skewing younger. Fifty-seven percent of new members who joined in 2018 are between the age of 18 and 44, compared with 54% of those who joined in 2017.

Click through to see the posts and results of the credit union’s #RelationshipGoals marketing campaign.


CommonWealth Central’s #RelationshipGoals marketing campaign earned the MACQUEE Award at this year’s MAC Conference.

CommonWealth Website

Recognizing the need to grow membership and deepen relationships in its competitive market, the credit union’s internal marketing team built the #RelationshipGoals campaign from scratch.

New Accounts And Memberships

The campaign helped the credit union open 27% more checking accounts and record a 19% increase in new members during its run versus the same three-month period in 2016.

New Member Referrals

The #RelationshipGoals referral program remains active, with 38% of new members in 2018 coming directly from member referrals.

Forward Momentum

The campaign’s impressive results coupled with its fresh approach were enough to earn CommonWealth a 2018 MAC Gold Award.The credit union went on to win the prestigious MACQUEE Best in Show Award, which was decided through live audience voting at the May 2018 MAC Conference in San Diego.

According to the organization’s website, MAC is the only association run 100% by an elected volunteer board of directors who daylight as decision makers in top credit unions throughout the country. For DAmico, this peer confirmation made CommonWealths MACQUEE achievement even more rewarding.

Taking a moment to reflect following the 2018 MAC Conference, DAmico considered the broader impacts of the campaign.

Right before the #RelationshipGoals campaign launched, we did an internal brand refresh, DAmico says.This campaign has helped us tell our story, in coordination with our brand, and it’s even helping us launch some new products.

For example, CommonWealth began offering a new high-yield savings account this year and used the #RelationshipGoals messaging to generate excitement around the product among non-members.

We’re carrying the message forward, and we’re seeing results from our efforts,DAmico says.The referral program has been successful over the past year and a half. We want to keep that momentum going.

For DAmico, the biggest takeaway from the campaign is that fresh, irreverent approaches can be successful.

As marketers, we’re challenged by this balancing act of talking about products and services without being too salesy,DAmico.One thing we’ve learned from this campaign is that messaging that’s fun and fresh works.It doesn’t have to include a special rate or product offer to drive the business.

And if it resonates with members, chances are, employees will like it, too.

I was pleasantly surprised with how all of our staff and management were on board with the concept, the CommonWealth vice president says.We were thinking outside the box in trying a campaign called #RelationshipGoals. Credit unionscan be pretty conservative, so I was excited that everyone thought it was cool, fun, and different.

Although DAmico acknowledges that CommonWealth, given an unlimited budget and resources, could have promoted the campaign even more through social media and other channels, overall, she says we did a pretty darn good job.

Long-term, DAmico hopes to leverage the success of the #RelationshipGoals campaign to drive even more employee and member engagement.

My ultimate wish is for our employees and everyone else who talks about Commonwealth to use consistent messaging,DAmico says.We want our team to feel comfortable sharing our story day in and day out, with or without a campaign.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


April 8, 2021

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