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Marketers in CUNA webinar share BTD stories
MADISON, Wis. (12/8/11)--Act fast and stay on message. Those were the two major lessons credit union marketers shared from their Bank Transfer Day experiences during a Wednesday Credit Union National Association webinar, "Consumers are Fee'd Up With Banks: Let's Help Them Make a Change."

During the webinar, Amy McGraw, vice president of marketing at Tropical Financial CU, Miramar, Fla., shared how her marketing team came up with the idea to pay its members $5 a month to use the credit union's debit card--the exact opposite of the strategy Bank of America nearly employed when it announced it would charge its customers a $5 monthly debit card fee.

Team members agreed on the idea at 4:30 p.m. on a Thursday. By 7 p.m. on Friday, not only had the marketing team put up a microsite and created branding around the plan, it had placed the story with the Miami Herald and the Orlando Sun Sentinel.

Similarly, Pioneer West Virginia FCU, Charleston, W.Va., decided to pay its members five cents each time its members swiped their cards for signature-based transactions.

Both Tropical Financial and Pioneer West Virginia risked the loss of interchange income in hopes of gaining new, but long-term, members.

"We have confidence that our financial advocates can cross-sell new members once they walk in the door," said Lisa Moore, marketing manager of Pioneer West Virginia FCU.

Similarly, McGraw said Tropical Financial has a strong member onboarding process to introduce members to products that fit their demographic profile.

"We heard all these stories about how it was just going to be the unprofitable members leaving banks," McGraw said. "We didn't see those unprofitable members. We had one guy who took out a $1.3 million mortgage on a $2 million house. He knew about us because he saw us everywhere. Our credibility was going through the roof from seeing us in the media."

Anne Shivers, CEO of Carolina Collegiate FCU, Columbia, S.C., led a coalition of 33 North Carolina credit unions that signed a pledge to offer fee-free debit cards.

Among the keys--in addition to their strength in numbers--was the group's unified message. It sent out a single press release with one media contact. The entire organizational process took 48 hours, said Shivers.

The efforts resulted in seven television interviews, 14 newspapers stories, and two radio stories for credit union.

"As a mid-sized credit unions, we couldn't have afforded to buy that kind of advertising, but because there were so many of us it captured more attention," Shivers said. "Credit unions work well together anyway."

The campaign was more about telling the public what credit unions have always done, Shivers said. "But you have to be timely," she added. "You can't wait for someone else to do it."

McGraw, Moore and Shivers appeared on CUNA's webinar with Bank Transfer Day founder Kristen Christian. See related News Now story, "BTD organizer in CUNA webinar: 'Every day is Bank Transfer Day'
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