Free stuff is good

Everyone loves free marketing, right? Then why don’t wee see more credit unions taking advantage of holiday marketing?

As is always the case, Google had a “doodle” of their logo of for Saint Patrick’s day last week. Google has made it a point to create doodles of their logos for darn near every holiday possible. They even did a doodle to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the patent for a bar-code.

Google's Saint Patrick's Day Logo

Newegg, a major online electronics retailer, even gets into the holiday spirit with their own customized holiday logo.

Newegg's Holiday Logo

So what does all of this mean to credit unions?

Credit unions can stay relevant and fresh with only minor tweaks to your brand.
Your brand is not set in stone. It is not a palette of 3 colors that you must always use.
Take advantage of the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Oscar the Grouch’s birthday.

These “holidays” give a marketer a tremendous amount of material to create new campaigns to entice new members, and existing members, to strength their relationship with the credit union. Run a promotion that makes Oscar the Grouch (aka the CFO) cranky. And pitch it like that.  Don’t forget the upcoming Earth Day. But do forget the overused “Plant a tree for switching to e-statements.” You just missed National Pie Day on January 23rd, which was your chance to hold a pie fundraiser. Sell pies at $10 a piece to throw at your local branch manager to raise funds for Credit Union for Kids or your own charity. But be careful not to encroach on someone’s protected trademark.

Whatever your do, do it well and do it different. Your members will love you for it.

The Best Potatoes

Seriously, if I had money, I would just do things like this. Screw committees and politics. Insert credit union everywhere they say potato and we have a darn near great national credit union campaign.

I’d send an invite for each league president to bring themselves and one credit union CEO to a shoot and they’d have a script not to far from this.

When the hand that feeds you starts feeding themselves

Warning: Slight technical discussion ahead follow by shallow stabs at credit union marketing.

Google announced today their new Google Public DNS service.  For those not in the know, recursive DNS, which is what Google is offering, is simplistically a phone book.  It translates “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson” to 800-555-5555.  Applied to the internet, it translates to, which is the IP address of the server running my blog.  As is the Google norm, it is free.Every computer you use to get on the internet has to use a DNS server and normally these are managed by your ISP, but there are other options.

home-footer-logoEnter OpenDNS.  They’ve been around for a while now and provide both a free DNS service as well as paid options.  With their free option, you as a consumer get very fast resolution when you type a domain name in and it is smart enough to send you to the correct page when you type in  When a domain name is mis-typed or does not resolve, you are directed to one of their search pages which contains ads, by Google of course.  Here’s an example.  So OpenDNS pays for their servers, staff, etc by the AdSense revenue they gain from their sponsored search pages.

So what do you do when the company that pays your bills goes into the exactly same business you are in?  Does OpenDNS now race against Google for the fast DNS resolution?  Nobody can compete on price since it is already free.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.  How are credit unions supposed to differentiate their free checking accounts from one another?  I’m sorry, is it a checking account, share draft account, or a spending account?  Is your checking account free-er than your neighboring credit union?  Wait, you focus on member service, so that’s your differentiation, right?

Buy me a car

That’s right, I said buy me a car.  At least that’s what Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union does for any employee who is willing to wrap their car with a CU vinyl graphic.  Naturally, I was not fast enough with my phone or camera to capture the occasion, so you’ll just have to envision it in your head.  You wrap your car with their vinyl graphics and Tampa Bay Fed will make your car payment.  Even for a new Corvette.  

Think about it.  How much to you pay for a stationary billboard each month?  You get happy employees, a conversation around the vinyl graphic anytime they go somewhere, all for probably at most half of a normal billboard.  Now that is some marketing most credit unions don’t do!

Customer friendly marketing from Mint

Here is the latest marketing piece from Mint.  It arrived in my inbox last night as a friendly reminder to avoid any fees.  Oh yeah, notice that they do slip a subtle little marketing message in at the bottom of the email.  About a beta product!  If only credit unions were this smart.  Or could design gorgeous marketing material like this.

When user generated content goes bad

Yes, UGC, or user generated content, can come back to bite you in the butt.  Subway is currently suing Quiznos for some user submitted videos.  To quote the NY Times article,

Subway promptly sued Quiznos and iFilm, the Web site owned by Viacom that ran the contest, saying that many of the homemade videos made false claims and depicted its brand in a derogatory way. Subway is also objecting to ads that Quiznos itself created, showing people on the street choosing Quiznos over Subway.

Depending on the way this goes, it could spell bad things for companies using campaigns like this or campaigns that seem a little similar to those launched by others, like Larissa’s credit union video or BankerSpank.

Which pen would you rather use?

Pen Wars

For some reason, the left picture is how I view credit unions and the picture on the right is how I view cool banks like Umpqua, or in this case, Commerce Bank.  Maybe flashy things attract me, but I think I know where I’d rather go to bank.

From the Consumerist and copyranter.  Pictures from Days of Heaven.

Also see the latest post on the fi-linx blog.

More user generated CU ads

 Fairfax County Community Credit Union has launched a new campaign to have GenYer’s create a 30 second TV spot about why their GenY checking fits their lifestyle.  They are giving away $1,000 and an iPhone to the winner.  All submissions get posted up on their YouTube site and you get to vote on their website.  Forum CU has done a good job with some ads featuring members and I think have had pretty good luck with them so I’ll be interested to see Fairfax’s results!

Also of interest, the campaign appears to be ran by CavionPlus, now part of Harland.  I wonder if they have a prepackaged "GenY" marketing campaign…