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Archive for the ‘Credit Unions’ Category

In an effort to promote responsible credit and debit card usage among college students, credit unions from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are hosting an online video contest.  The campaign, called Get Carducated, invites college students or college-bound students between the ages of 16-21 to “make a short video about the importance of using debit, credit and/or ATM cards responsibly.”  The winners will be determined by the number of views the videos receive by October 31, 2010; the videos with the most views will be among three winners.

While there have been numerous video contests hosted by financial institutions, this effort is noteworthy for a few important reasons.  First, the effort involves sixty-seven credit unions across three states; the overall effort is sponsored (and appears to be organized) by Covera Card Solutions.  Second, the contest’s website (www.getcarducated.com) is memorable (both the web address and actual site are memorable), it’s simple, and it’s likely to appeal to the target demographic.  Third, the prizes – including a college scholarship, MacBook, and iPhone – are real incentives for 16-21 year olds to participate in the contest.  Additionally, the contest is not a contest where viewers vote on their favorite video.  Rather, the winner will be determined by the number of total video views.

The contest recently launched, so as of now there aren’t any video submissions on the campaign’s YouTube channel page.  However, that is likely to change given the reach of the participating credit unions, who, according to Covera, will be receiving customized in-branch promotional materials to promote the contest.  And again, the incentive to participate should be enough to encourage a good number of entrants.

While there are some good elements to this campaign, there appear to be some missing pieces that would likely generate more awareness and allow the campaign to be more effective overall.  Most notably, is the absence of a real social media presence (beyond the use of YouTube to host the video entries).  Get Carducated does have a Facebook page, but the information is limited to an overview of the contest which was posted more than a month ago.  A search for “get carducated” and “carducator” on Twitter returned zero results.  In-branch promotions can only be expected to do so much, especially when the target audience is 16-21 year olds.  It seems that a more robust social media presence would do a lot to support this campaign.

The winners of the contest will be announced on November 1st.

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As awkward as it might sound, some people do use the term credit unioning. Most commonly, it’s used by credit union marketers as a replacement for the often-used and well-understood verb banking.  Those that use it usually make the argument that the term credit unioning somehow helps further differentiate credit unions from banks.  But in today’s marketplace – where the difference between credit unions and banks is often unclear, unknown, or misunderstood by many consumers – is the term helping to make that distinction, or is it further confusing consumers who may be  unfamiliar with credit unions and/or the term credit unioning?

The idea behind using the term credit unioning is not new (thanks to Open Source CU for sharing this Credit Unioning video from 1985).  And while discussion about the term’s use comes up from time to time in conversations with credit union marketers, I was prompted to write this post after watching this video from CU Grow.  The opening question, “What do you think about using the word bank as a verb?” certainly demonstrates that credit union marketers have given this idea some considerable thought.  At the same time, the justification for using and encouraging the use of the term is unclear.

The use of the verb has also translated into the names of online banking platforms as well.  As an example, Eastern Michigan Credit Union offers online credit unioning, but the homepage requires this description: “Welcome to Home Financial Services (aka HFS – Version 2.5.6). This is an Internet based financial service (I am sure you figured that out) offered to members of the Credit Union.”  It raises the question: is the effort to completely avoid the words bank and banking really just confusing consumers?

I’m reminded of a great article published by the Credit Union Times earlier this year called, Exclude the “Credit Union” to Save the Credit Union.  Sarah Snell Cooke, the author of the article, challenges readers to think about dropping the words “credit union” from their marketing efforts.  It’s a complete departure from the credit unioning argument.

Rather than trying to find additional ways to make the same-old bank vs. credit union argument in their marketing efforts, marketers would be better served finding ways to emphasize (or create) real differences that separate their individual institution  from all others – including both banks or credit unions.  Until then, consumers will continue to do their “banking” – most likely at an institution that really doesn’t seem much different from the rest.

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The Washington Credit Union League’s Annual Convention will take place next month.  And it looks like the league has found at least one way to bring the theme of this year’s conference, Evolve & Emerge, to life.  Rather than distributing stacks of paper handouts, presentation slides, program books and conference agendas to every attendee, WCUL has developed a convention app for iPhone and Blackberry.  The app eliminates the need for all the unnecessary paper (at least for those with smartphones).  Perhaps more importantly, the app also allows attendees to receive the latest updates from the league via Twitter, create their own customized schedules, and collect contact info from other attendees they meet at the convention.

This is the first time I’ve seen a state association develop a conference application like this for an iPhone or Blackberry (if anyone has other examples, please let me know).  While I’m not planning to attend the convention, I did download the free app for iPhone to see what it’s all about.

Here’s a screenshot of the app’s homepage.  Aside from the smart and easy navigation menu, I was most impressed with the integration of the league’s latest Twitter updates to the homepage.  I can see this being a great way to share the latest updates and announcements with conference attendees.  Beyond the league’s Twitter updates, the app also lets attendees post Twitter updates directly from the application – each of which automatically includes the hashtag established for the conference: #WaCon (bravo to WCUL for establishing a conference hashtag – it’s still something I wish all banking conferences would adopt and encourage).

The app also gives users quick access to maps of the exhibit hall and breakout session rooms, the conference schedule, and a list of exhibitors – complete with descriptions and contact information.

See more info about the iPhone app, including additional screenshots here.

The simple design and smart features of this app will certainly allow it to enhance the conference experience for attendees who use it.  I’m interested to know what percentage of attendees will use the app.  And, I’d like to know how the WCUL will encourage people to use it (one idea: make people pay for printed materials because the app is free).  Now, if we could only get more conference organizers to offer relevant and useful tools like this.

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