Partying with the enemy

Okay, maybe "enemy" is harsh. How about "older brother that likes to put us in headlocks from time to time, and when you complain to mom about it, she isn't looking and when she finally looks, he lets you go and she misses it..." You get my drift.

Mid-January a local TD Canada Trust held a grand opening for their newest branch. I received a direct mail piece about their RRSP offering (young boy looking at height measurements charted on a wall) but not a notice about this event. I don't recall seeing an ad in the community newspaper (doesn't mean it wasn't there, just that it wasn't very NOTICEABLE).

They had announced the branch extremely well using a billboard on a main thorough-fare in town, and hoarding signage at the construction site.

The event itself was pretty sedate.


  • Put the iconic "Chair of Comfort" (my term) in the branch for the day
  • Full branch staff introduced themselves, were very talkative in a non-intrusive way, and seemed genuinely glad to see me
  • They treated my chair photo request seriously and cleared the way for a good photo
  • For those of you who believe in them, a good grab bag was given to me AND my 12-year-old daughter: eco-friendly cloth bag, TD magnet piggy bank, cool green pen and sticky note-pad

Missed opportunities:

  • No outward facing sign that anything was going on. Not even balloons outside! (The branch is at a high traffic location.)
  • Staff giggled about how silly it was that the "Chair of Comfort" had a procedures manual 3 inches thick and its own "handlers". Too bad, I gave them the opportunity to build the myth of the chair and tie the "comfort" promise even more solidly to their brand. They missed it.

Tips for credit unions:

  • If your new branch is a relocation, consider a VIP event for existing branch members only and dignitaries (mayor, local MP, local MLA). Members should be rewarded for their support. Contact the dignitaries at least two months in advance to allow the date to work into their schedules. A simple phone call campaign works for this.
  • For the public grand opening, focus on introducing your brand to the community in a way that points out your competitive difference. Secondly, make sure to tie a giveaway into an account opening. If you have snacks, keep them simple. But make sure you have a good supply of refreshments (coffee, tea, juice boxes, soda).
  • Welcome yourself to the neighbourhood with other business by introducing yourself prior to the events with a small baked basket. One of our clients did this with great success, especially in an outdoor mall area where parking for the grand opening was sure to become cramped.

What has worked for you? Let us know by leaving a comment.


Podcast 05: Credit Union Innovator Doug True

Off topic: Nothing to do with credit unions, everything to do with awesomeness