Thursday, October 13, 2011

Be Proactive with Checking Opportunities

By Margie Church

The debit card user fee proposed by several of the large banks has pushed Joe Public to take action. Angry consumers are leaving them in large numbers. Last December, The Financial Brand wrote an excellent article about the importance of free checking to the typical consumer. One valuable nugget: 57-percent of the checking account customers in America are highly at risk to switch banks if their institution began to charge fees for what were previously free services for their checking accounts.

In response to aggressive fees, a social uprising called Bank Transfer Day has emerged. The social movement started on Facebook, and encourages bank customers to take their cash out of big banks by November 5, and put it in smaller banks and credit unions instead.2 Whether this movement will be successful won't be known until after November 5, but grassroots movements have been successful many times before.
Is your credit union waiting for these people to walk through your doors, or are you going after them? 

Whether your competition is tacking on a specific new debit card user fee or eliminating free checking, the fact is, credit unions are a better value. They always have been.  

A checking account is the perfect product to draw new members to your credit union and deepen your relationship with current members who don't have a checking account with you. You're providing a better solution at a time when people are looking for one.

Even if your marketing budgets may be nearly spent, there are several very inexpensive, effective tools you can use to capture new members and their business right now. Here are a few great strategies and tactics to reach out to members and prospects.
  1. First, use MCIF or DP data to identify members who don’t have a checking account.  Send them a postcard or letter that states the benefits of your account. Keep your message positive and explain how your credit union will make their transition pain-free. 
  2. An email with a PURL for responses is a great twist for follow-up or for members preferring email communications.
  3. Canvas your entire membership with a statement stuffer and possibly offer a referral reward.
  4. A web banner is a must to communicate to prospects.
  5. Experience the effectiveness of multi-channel marketing. Use in-branch posters, scrolling signs, drive-thru banners, and building signs. 
  6. Consider a billboard in high-traffic areas.
This is absolutely the wrong time for credit unions to take a low profile approach. Consumers are shopping for value. Make sure they know your credit union is the best place to get it.

What's going on in your area of the country? Are you experiencing any backlash - positive or negative from the new debit card user fee issue?

About us: Pinpoint exclusively serves the credit union market. We provide excellent, turnkey or a' la carte creative services at a great value.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why Would You Skip a Skip?

By Margie Church

Traditionally timed for the holiday season and summer vacations, credit union members find skip-a-pay promotions as irresistible as fresh popcorn. They provide a service that members want and generate income for the credit union. In other words, skip-a-pay promotions are gimmies.

You don't have to do anything extraordinary to have a successful campaign. Our clients who send a simple letter have seen 137% ROI. Those who use more than one channel – either a letter with a PURL or email with a PURL—see significantly higher returns. In fact, one client saw an ROI of over 1,500%. While that number is atypical, many clients see 300% or more ROI.  As you can see, the fee income is usually more than enough to pay for the promotion (at least at our place), and the interest income is an added bonus. Some clients have experienced such success with skip-a-pays that they promote them as part of the initial loan offer. There's a win-win for everyone involved.

Skip promotion also give you a relevant, timely reason to contact your members. They boost your visibility at a time when home and auto loans are scarce, and credit card use has declined. Do you know the formula for creating top of mind awareness? Contact the same person three times in seven nights sleep to remember your message. To have long term recall, you also need to have that contact on a regular basis. Long-term recall is critical to building brand awareness. Remember, when need meets awareness, you get a sale. 

Even if your budget has been spent or nearly so, resist the urge to cut a promotion that's a sure thing. If you've never tried a skip-a-pay, isn't it time to add this effective tool to your marketing plan? 

When you think about it, not having an annual or semi-annual skip-a-pay promotion actually costs your credit union money in terms of lost income.