Filene Tracks Race For Highest Credit Score For Fin Ed Efforts

media-cuna.jpg

MADISON, Wis. (7/18/13)--The Filene Research Institute launched a study to investigate the establishment and trajectory of a credit score--starting from an initial FICO score of zero.

The Great Credit Race will follow the use of a Visa credit card by 20 individuals who have no established FICO or a zero score for six months to ascertain key variables that affect the score's opening growth.

As part of Filene's i3 program, two member credit unions--Del Norte CU, Los Alamos, N.M., and Dupaco Community CU, Dubuque, Iowa--will pilot the study in an effort to crack the code on how credit scores experience an uptick from score inception.   

"The great conundrum is that it's really hard to get credit if you have no credit score," said George Hofheimer, Filene's chief research and innovation officer. Since considerable weight is put on revolving credit for credit score determination, the Great Credit Race has made using a credit card the crux of the study.

"Unveiling some of the initial triggers, both positive and negative, on a credit score could be groundbreaking for consumers who struggle with home and car ownership, rental ability, and even job acquisition," Hofheimer added.

"The Filene study is quite unique in its perspective," said Denise Wymore, Del Norte vice president of member loyalty. "We know what types of behaviors raise or lower scores on established credit scores, but it's really a mystery as to what behaviors actually help build a score from the ground up."

The study also will provide insights into more effective ways of helping consumers understand money, according to David Klavitter, Dupaco senior vice president of marketing.  "It's the role of credit unions to improve our members' overall financial well-being," he said. "Better financial education is critical."

Participants in the study will receive a Visa credit card with a $500 limit and are told they must make monthly payments in a timely manner and cannot exceed the set limit. On the last day of each month, each credit union will do a soft pull of the credit score via TransUnion. On the 180th day of the race, the individual with the highest score will be deemed the winner and receive $500.

"The insight gleaned from this study may give consumers a real step up in the credit game, helping them establish habits that will open the doors to better opportunities and lives," said Hofheimer.

Other i3 credit unions contributing to the project include Elevations CU, Boulder, Colo.; Leaders CU, Jackson, Tenn.; Vancity CU, Vancouver, B.C.; and Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, Calif. Currency Marketing of Chilliwack, B.C., is providing marketing support and guidance. 

+ Original article

Marketing to Moms – Verity Credit Union Attracts Moms … without Turning Off Everyone Else

Credit Union Business | By Laura Enock

`Momprenuers. Mommy bloggers. Deal sites for moms. What is it about moms that have turned them into the hottest demographic for marketers?

“Credit unions don’t like to exclude anyone, and so our target markets have become so broad,” says Shari Storm, SVP at Verity Credit Union and author of “Motherhood is the New MBA.”

“It’s in our nature not to exclude one group over another.”

So why would the credit union single out moms? Is it working? And how do other, non-mom members (think: men) feel about it?

Verity Credit Union chose moms as a group to focus on after its leaders read the book “Blue Ocean Strategy,” a book on marketing, which advises organizations to find the most attractive demographic for what they’re offering, focus on them, and ignore everyone else. While searching for ways to implement these ideas in 2008, the credit union considered focusing on “family” as that segment of focus.

But family was too broad. So they asked a key question: “Who in the family is making the decisions and influencing where kids start their banking relationships?”

Storm noted that when you’re looking at a target market, you want three things:

  1. Strong affiliation
  2. Homogony
  3. Influence.

Not only was it clear that “moms” was the dominant answer to the key question above, it was also clear that moms have all three of these components.

  1. Strong affiliation: individuals in this demographic affiliate strongly with that role. For example, many of us are employees, consumers, homeowners, moviegoers. But how strongly do we affiliate with that role? Now think of motherhood. It’s not something I just happen to be; it’s a central part of my identity.
  2. Homogony: members of the group are alike in many ways. While all groups have a “common bond of membership,” if that’s the only thing they have in common, it isn’t much. For moms, there’s a lot that the majority of moms will find they have in common, as diverse as they may be. They’re caregivers, protectors, and advocates for the world. Additionally, put any two moms together over coffee and they’ll find out they share the same or similar views on many things. For example, most women think they’re husbands don’t do enough around the house.  That’s homogony, and it’s alive and well among moms.
  3. Influence:While every human being has some degree of influence over others, moms have the most influence when it comes to their family,  friends, the businesses they own, schools, and their communities. Research shows that mothers are the most influential when it comes to where their kids will do their banking.

Another factor that makes moms an attractive group to focus on is that they’re not expensive to communicate with. After college students, the first groups to embrace blogging and Facebook were moms.

Having decided to focus marketing efforts on moms in 2008, Verity rolled out VerityMom.com, a blog for moms and by moms, with a specific spokesperson, in August 2009.  “We’d been watching Young and Free (YoungFreeHQ.com), and thought it was fantastic,” Storm says. “Our Verity Mom is Young and Free for moms.”

Verity Mom isn’t the whole program, of course. It’s just one component of the credit union’s overall strategy. Other components of that strategy include retraining the credit union staff so they celebrate kids when they come into the branch, including moms in the credit union’s creative, and redesigning the branches to make them kid-friendly. Verity also runs focus groups with moms, to find out how they’ll respond to marketing initiatives that the credit union is planning.

Another advantage to focusing on moms is that you know where they are and can easily spot the opportunities. For example, Verity CU set up a table at a local summer camp expo where various day care options for the summer were presented to interested parents­­­––likely to be mostly an audience of moms. While it’s not a typical outlet for a financial institution, with a focus on moms, Storm knew they wanted to be there.

While Verity CU hasn’t sliced moms into other segments, they focus mostly on moms of young children.

And yet, there are challenges. “Anyone not in that target market won’t immediately ‘get it’,” Storm concedes. “You don’t understand how tightknit and powerful we are if you’re not part of it. Intuitively, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Overcoming the obstacle of convincing the (primarily male) board was a matter of going back to the numbers. For example, at Verity CU, one of the goals was to lower the average age of members. The credit union is now doing that successfully, by targeting moms and bringing in the whole family. “We’ve done it, we’re showing results, we’ve established that ahead of the campaign,” Storm says.

New checking accounts was the other goal, one the credit union is successfully achieving.

For credit unions looking to target moms, Storm is encouraging. “You have to be the champion for it,” she says. That means continually reminding people and asking the question, ‘is this good for moms?’”

Targeting moms works, but what about the rest of the membership? Verity is successfully targeting women, without alienating anyone else. Here’s how:

“We’re not pro-mothers to the extent of excluding men,” Storm explains. For example, the credit union had a debit card with an image of two kids frolicking in the grass. The women liked it, but the men didn’t. While they had no problem carrying photos of their own children in their wallets, most men aren’t comfortable with photos of someone else’s kids. So, the credit union changed the image.

Another example: the credit union placed garden gnomes outside the branches. While the women love them and comment on them, men don’t notice them at all. In general, the credit union’s marketing efforts are designed in a way that women benefit, while men don’t lose out.

With more women currently in the workforce than men, it’s becoming more acceptable to market to women. It’s hard to argue the statistics. And while Verity CU is a community credit union, Storm is quick to point out that EVERY credit union can focus on moms. Many companies have work-life balance groups; they’re singling out that demographic. If you’re a credit union with a SEG, you can integrate yourself with the companies your members work for by offering workshops and other resources for moms.

“Make sure the people driving the initiative are women,” Storm says. “They don’t have to be doing all the work, but they should be making most of the decisions.”

While not every credit union has moms represented strongly in their membership, if your credit union has a typical mix of members, consider focusing at least some of your marketing on moms. Find a way to do it without alienating men, and then look at the numbers. If the strong affiliation, homogony, and influence or moms in your membership are making a difference in your bottom line, you have all the proof you need to take it further.

After the kids – now it's the moms

CU Newswire

Based on their award-winning Young & Free marketing program, Currency Marketing has created another innovative programme – Money Mom. 

The problem this addresses is that women make roughly 89% of the financial decisions in their families. But a number of CUs are not very female-friendly.

Stay-at-home moms, working moms, single moms — no matter what the situation, the fact is, CUs are failing to give moms the attention they deserve. And, since almost every bank and CU is turning a blind eye to moms, savvy CUs, who consciously build their brand and products to appeal to moms, will have a great opportunity to differentiate themselves in an otherwise homogenous marketplace.

In this programme you’ll find a local mom to be the voice of your CU. Her job will be to connect on- and off-line with the local community to raise awareness and affinity for your CU.

To date, two Money Moms have held this great part-time job, Rosemary Garner in 2010 and Daeniell Gahl, both at Verity CU. Each has brought her own unique style to the position and each has had a significant impact at their CU and in their community.

Marketing to Moms – Verity Credit Union Attracts Moms… without Turning Off Everyone Else

Credit Union Business | By Laura Enock

VerityMom_1.jpg

Momprenuers. Mommy bloggers. Deal sites for moms. What is it about moms that have turned them into the hottest demographic for marketers?

“Credit unions don’t like to exclude anyone, and so our target markets have become so broad,” says Shari Storm, SVP at Verity Credit Union and author of “Motherhood is the New MBA.”

“It’s in our nature not to exclude one group over another.”

So why would the credit union single out moms? Is it working? And how do other, non-mom members (think: men) feel about it?

Verity Credit Union chose moms as a group to focus on after its leaders read the book “Blue Ocean Strategy,” a book on marketing, which advises organizations to find the most attractive demographic for what they’re offering, focus on them, and ignore everyone else. While searching for ways to implement these ideas in 2008, the credit union considered focusing on “family” as that segment of focus.

But family was too broad. So they asked a key question: “Who in the family is making the decisions and influencing where kids start their banking relationships?”

Storm noted that when you’re looking at a target market, you want three things:

  1. Strong affiliation
  2. Homogony
  3. Influence.

Not only was it clear that “moms” was the dominant answer to the key question above, it was also clear that moms have all three of these components.

  1. Strong affiliation: individuals in this demographic affiliate strongly with that role. For example, many of us are employees, consumers, homeowners, moviegoers. But how strongly do we affiliate with that role? Now think of motherhood. It’s not something I just happen to be; it’s a central part of my identity.
  2. Homogony: members of the group are alike in many ways. While all groups have a “common bond of membership,” if that’s the only thing they have in common, it isn’t much. For moms, there’s a lot that the majority of moms will find they have in common, as diverse as they may be. They’re caregivers, protectors, and advocates for the world. Additionally, put any two moms together over coffee and they’ll find out they share the same or similar views on many things. For example, most women think they’re husbands don’t do enough around the house.  That’s homogony, and it’s alive and well among moms.
  3. Influence:While every human being has some degree of influence over others, moms have the most influence when it comes to their family,  friends, the businesses they own, schools, and their communities. Research shows that mothers are the most influential when it comes to where their kids will do their banking.

Another factor that makes moms an attractive group to focus on is that they’re not expensive to communicate with. After college students, the first groups to embrace blogging and Facebook were moms.

Having decided to focus marketing efforts on moms in 2008, Verity rolled out VerityMom.com, a blog for moms and by moms, with a specific spokesperson, in August 2009.  “We’d been watching Young and Free (YoungFreeHQ.com), and thought it was fantastic,” Storm says. “Our Verity Mom is Young and Free for moms.”

Verity Mom isn’t the whole program, of course. It’s just one component of the credit union’s overall strategy. Other components of that strategy include retraining the credit union staff so they celebrate kids when they come into the branch, including moms in the credit union’s creative, and redesigning the branches to make them kid-friendly. Verity also runs focus groups with moms, to find out how they’ll respond to marketing initiatives that the credit union is planning.

Another advantage to focusing on moms is that you know where they are and can easily spot the opportunities. For example, Verity CU set up a table at a local summer camp expo where various day care options for the summer were presented to interested parents­­­––likely to be mostly an audience of moms. While it’s not a typical outlet for a financial institution, with a focus on moms, Storm knew they wanted to be there.

While Verity CU hasn’t sliced moms into other segments, they focus mostly on moms of young children.

And yet, there are challenges. “Anyone not in that target market won’t immediately ‘get it’,” Storm concedes. “You don’t understand how tightknit and powerful we are if you’re not part of it. Intuitively, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Overcoming the obstacle of convincing the (primarily male) board was a matter of going back to the numbers. For example, at Verity CU, one of the goals was to lower the average age of members. The credit union is now doing that successfully, by targeting moms and bringing in the whole family. “We’ve done it, we’re showing results, we’ve established that ahead of the campaign,” Storm says.

New checking accounts was the other goal, one the credit union is successfully achieving.

For credit unions looking to target moms, Storm is encouraging. “You have to be the champion for it,” she says. That means continually reminding people and asking the question, ‘is this good for moms?’”

Targeting moms works, but what about the rest of the membership? Verity is successfully targeting women, without alienating anyone else. Here’s how:

“We’re not pro-mothers to the extent of excluding men,” Storm explains. For example, the credit union had a debit card with an image of two kids frolicking in the grass. The women liked it, but the men didn’t. While they had no problem carrying photos of their own children in their wallets, most men aren’t comfortable with photos of someone else’s kids. So, the credit union changed the image.

Another example: the credit union placed garden gnomes outside the branches. While the women love them and comment on them, men don’t notice them at all. In general, the credit union’s marketing efforts are designed in a way that women benefit, while men don’t lose out.

With more women currently in the workforce than men, it’s becoming more acceptable to market to women. It’s hard to argue the statistics. And while Verity CU is a community credit union, Storm is quick to point out that EVERY credit union can focus on moms. Many companies have work-life balance groups; they’re singling out that demographic. If you’re a credit union with a SEG, you can integrate yourself with the companies your members work for by offering workshops and other resources for moms.

“Make sure the people driving the initiative are women,” Storm says. “They don’t have to be doing all the work, but they should be making most of the decisions.”

While not every credit union has moms represented strongly in their membership, if your credit union has a typical mix of members, consider focusing at least some of your marketing on moms. Find a way to do it without alienating men, and then look at the numbers. If the strong affiliation, homogony, and influence or moms in your membership are making a difference in your bottom line, you have all the proof you need to take it further.

+ Original article

Messy Message in CU's Social Media Campaign

American Banker

An edgy anti-bank message can work well in social media marketing, but only if it also conveys a better alternative from the company behind it.

Summit Federal Credit Union of Rochester, N.Y., may have missed the mark when it created a viral video called "S*** Banks Say," — in which it more fully spelled out the first word. The promotion pushed a pro-credit union message in the mold of a satirical online video trend that evolved from the "S*** My Dad Says" Twitter account (which was popular enough to lead to a short-lived TV show starring William Shatner).

Summit's deliberately lowbrow video differs substantially from the dozens of YouTube videos spawned by Currency Marketing's Young & Free campaign. Many of those videos, generated by young credit union members, have gone viral and garnered thousands of new members for the 91 credit unions that have participated since 2008.

By contrast, Summit's "S*** Banks Say" video promotes stereotypes of bank employees as bored, rude and ditzy while failing to provide any specifics about an alternative.

The video further stresses that banks charge high and unnecessary fees and are unresponsive to customer service concerns. It ends with a brief suggestion that the viewer switch to a credit union.

"It shows everything that's wrong with your competitor while offering no details on how [Summit is] different," says Emmett Higdon, founder and principal at the banking technology consulting firm Prizm Strategy, in an email.

"[This is] a poorly done rip … and reminds me of negative political ad campaigns," says Higdon.

There are better ways for credit unions and community banks to harness social media to distinguish themselves from their larger rivals, experts say.

One reason that Summit may have shied away from direct comparisons is that the credit union itself levies a wide range of the sorts of service charges that customers loathe —from fees for inactivity to those for monthly account maintenance, paper statements and early account closures.

Nor did efforts to contact the credit union indicate that it is particularly responsive to callers. American Banker spent many minutes on hold on Summit’s customer service line trying to reach a representative. Its call was then transferred to a voice mail recording. Ultimately, a Summit representative responded to a request for feedback about its video in an email message stating that it declined to comment.

"Credit unions need to tread lightly if they are going to do bank bashing, and they better be able to look in the mirror and prove it does not apply to them as well," says Tim McAlpine, creative director of Currency Marketing, a credit union marketing company in Chilliwack, Canada, and creator of the Young & Free campaign.

Young & Free financial institutions select their young spokesperson, called a "spokester," through an online contest in which participants show off their creative talents and their social-media savvy. The winner is hired to represent the credit union for a year, using Facebook and YouTube to advertise the benefits of joining a credit union.

Young & Free's most successful video, crated by the campaign's first spokester, Larissa Walkiw, who represented Common Wealth Credit Union (now Servus Credit Union) of Alberta in 2008, has been viewed more than 150,000 times.

Part of the campaign's success is its educational value. Walkiw's first video explains clearly how credit unions operate and how these differences can benefit members. And when she criticizes banks, she does so in such a gentle and disarmingly charming way that even bankers might even find themselves agreeing with her message.

But times may have changed.

While credit unions are still challenged to bring in new, younger members — their average member age is 47, about ten years older than the average U.S. citizen, McAlpine says — messages may have to become more extreme and less thoughtful to get through to younger audiences who are inundated with marketing messages

"I think the ability of a video to break through today versus three to four years ago is more difficult," McAlpine says.

Still, credit unions do plenty of things well that banks can't do, and they should focus on those differences in their videos and other online marketing efforts, experts say.

"Credit union websites are not very good at pointing to the differences between themselves and banks, which go beyond fees," says Brad Strothkamp, vice president and principal analyst for the marketing and strategy group at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

For example, credit unions could do more to highlight the benefits of their nonprofit structure. They could also better promote any pacts they have with other credit unions to share ATM and branch access.

+ Original article

CUs need to make more use of video

CU Newswire

CUs not using video are missing out on an effective tool to communicate with:

  • Staff
  • Members
  • Potential members

That’s the opinion of Tim McAlpine, head of Currency Marketing and developer of the very successful Young&Free program among many others. He doesn’t feel that a CU’s video needs to go viral to be successful. He cited as an example of Libro Financial putting its annual report on video. The CU broke the 50-page report into chapters and put those on youtube. They also reassembled it. What might be some other uses?

  • Training
  • Program launches
  • Getting information to staff from diverse locations

The uses are as varied as the imagination.

There are drawbacks, such as the lack of keyword searches, but he believes someday there will be. However, a good title description and tagging means a video can be found.

Some still have the idea social networking in general will compromise systems, a view he disagrees with.

CUs do not need to hire production companies with huge costs. He recommends hiring freelancers. He does believe in using good equipment. Cannon is his favourite. He recommends that an extra microphone be used, because poor audio can kill the effect of a video. Equally important is good lighting.

Content, content, content

Boring videos can be detrimental. Having a CEO stare into a camera and speak in a monotone for 5 minutes, almost guarantees people won’t listen. McAlpine says:

  • If you have 5 minutes of script, cut it to 2. Make it short and sweet.
  • Look for the “stars” to speak on the video.
  • Videos should be scripted and tightly edited

Videos and all social media should be part of the overall marketing program. “Everything should feed off everything else,” he said.

To read more check out McAlpine’s article here.

Currency's programs win five MAC Marketing NOW Awards

Marketing Association of Credit Unions

Why wait a year to recognize credit unions’ virtual, viral and electronic efforts that are happening now? That single question prompted the Marketing Association of Credit Unions to launch the MAC Marketing NOW awards.

With more credit unions creating and posting their work on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, microsites and developing smartphone apps, the competition is designed to recognize the best work happening right now in the credit union world.

There were 11 categories with hundreds of entries and Currency's programs won five first place awards.

  • South Carolina Federal Credit Union and Young & Free SC placed first in the Best Social Media Engagement Campaign Award category with its Thursday Night Lights football promotion.
  • Listerhill and Young & Free Alabama placed first in the Video category with Chris Anderson's Young & Free Musical video. This entry was also named a Superstar Finalist.
  • TDECU and Young & Free Texas placed first in the Blog and Vlog category.
  • Verity Credit Union and Verity Mom placed first in the Best Social Media Personality Award category with Rosemary Garner.
  • Currency Marketing and Young & Free HQ placed first in the Agency Podcast or Internet Radio Show Award category with Why Gen Y Live.

+ MAC Marketing Now Awards

Canada's Common Wealth CU wins MACQUEE Award

Credit Union Times | By Heather Anderson

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Those Canadian stick figures on YouTube scored another big U.S. marketing award.

The Marketing Association of Credit Unions named $1.6 billion Common Wealth Credit Union of Lloydminster, Alberta, this year’s MACQUEE Award winner at the group’s annual conference award dinner last night. Common Wealth’s Young & Free checking promotion, which relies heavily upon technology and social media, had just picked up three CUES Golden Mirror awards last week.

Common Wealth hired Chilliwack, British Columbia-based agency Currency Marketing for creative and strategy assistance to promote the account to Gen-Y.

The cornerstone of the promotion was a province-wide search for a spokesperson, someone between the ages of 19 and 25 who would work 20 hours per week for the credit union, communicating with potential young members in person and online. Three finalists were selected from video entries, with 19-year-old visual artist Larissa Walkiw selected from an online voting competition.

Walkiw is the creator of the popular video that promotes the account and the credit union difference. The video, which uses simple stick figure artwork, has been viewed more than 20,000 times on YouTube.

Young & Free takes three CUES Golden Mirror Awards

CU Newswire

Young & Free, The Common Wealth CU pioneering youth program, took top honours in three categories at the Golden Mirror Awards announced at the CUES Experience Conference in Minneapolis.

Young & Free received first place in the image enhancement category for CUs with assets more that $700 million, first place in the segment marketing category for all CUs and first place in the public relations category for all CUs. More than 900 entries were submitted to the 2008 Golden Mirror Awards from North American CUs.

The Young & Free Alberta program used a microsite, social media and traditional marketing to search for a Generation Y spokesperson in conjunction with the launch of a new Young & Free Chequing Account. Dubbed the "voice of Alberta’s under 25 crowd," the Young & Free Spokesperson creates YouTube videos, posts, daily blog entries and attends youth events to connect Common Wealth CU with young people.

The Golden Mirror Awards are awarded at the CUES annual marketing conference, recognizing top CU marketers in North America.

Currency Marketing worked with Brookline Public Relations, DSA Media and K1 Technology to execute all components of the Common Wealth program.