MADISON, Wis. (8/22/11)--With an economy that is hard on both consumers and businesses, emphasizing the credit union difference on International Credit Union (ICU) Day, Oct. 20, is more important than ever according to some within the credit union movement. Two credit unions--one on a shoestring budget and one with slightly higher budget--shared how they market their credit unions on ICU Day. In Las Vegas, Colleen Hermann, member service representative at $14.5 million Stage Employees FCU, knows how to celebrate the credit union difference on a tight budget. “We celebrate ICU Day because it makes our members more aware of what a credit union is,” Hermann said. “Some of them think of us as a bank and don’t know we’re member-owned. Our budget is tight, but this year we’re putting up signs and giving a little gift of Post-Its and pens.” East River FCU, with $20 million in assets, of Madison, S.D., actually received some benefit when the recession hit in 2008, according to President/CEO Mechelle Johnson. “Our community has embraced the credit union,” Johnson said. “With great employees and good rates in place, and banks getting bad press, East River grabbed the opportunity to promote the credit union difference.” As a result, Johnson decided to invest more heavily in marketing this year, spotlighting the credit unions on billboards, in radio and newspaper ads and a digital billboard. The strategy has achieved results. Johnson says loans and membership have increased. Since some construction projects in front of the credit union are finishing up this fall, East River is using ICU Day to thank members for their loyalty and patience during construction. Among the ICU Day initiatives the East River FCU has planned:
* Community shred-it day with the first 100 attendees receiving grocery totes with goodies and ID theft information); * World coloring pages for kids; * ICU Day T-shirts for employees, with shirt give-aways for members; * A canned-goods drive; * A “Going green” campaign, promoting online transactions, e-statements and mobile access; and * An open house with punch and cookies.
To promote ICU Day, East River FCU will send a press release to local papers and hang a banner.