CUES GMA Golden Shoestring winner tells members to shop smart. Orion Federal Credit Union , Memphis , wanting to increase its loan portfolio, realized it could fill an unmet market need by offering low-interest back-to-school loans. These small loans, up to $1,500 , were designed to finance school supplies. That late summer shopping trip can be a real budget buster for a lot of families. The goal was to get them an affordable (rates started at 7.99 percent) way to buy the necessary pens, pencils, notebooks, backpacks, clothes and even computers or tablets that some students need. The campaign ran July 27-Aug. 31,2012, to coincide with back-toschool sales. (The CU did not put restrictions on the loans; if members wanted to borrow the money for something other than back-toschool stuff, that was OK, too.) "We always try to keep our focus on what our members want, rather than just offering a product because the bank across the street has introduced something new," says Henry Ellis , marketing manager at the $500 million /43,000-member CU (www.orionfcu. com). "In this case, several of our members had suggested to branch personnel that they could use a little extra money to help get their kids ready for the new school year. So it was a pretty easy decision to create a product that would fill that need." Shoestring Budget The CU wanted to keep costs down as much as possible so it came up with the creative in house. The CU found eye-catching images of children wearing large glasses and placed them in front of chalkboards. The ad copy appeared to be written in chalk on the board. One featured "I will save money" written several times on the board. "I'm a visual thinker and I almost always start the creative process by either sketching out an idea or flipping through stock images," explains Ellis. "In this case, I knew our budget would never allow for photography so I went straight to the stock photos. And those school kid images just jumped out of the screen from the moment I saw them. It was pretty much a no-brainer to build the campaign around those." In total the CU spent $179 and, for its efforts, was awarded the CUES Golden Mirror Awards Golden Shoestring Award for producing a highly successful marketing piece within the constraints of a limited budget. "Luckily we have a great marketing team here that allows us to do almost everything but large size printing in-house. We created the marketing pieces ourselves, built Flash videos to be shown on the plasma screens in each branch and built a Back to School Loan webpage within our website, all without spending a dime with third-party vendors," Ellis explains. The $179 was spent on the stock photos and 500 printed 3" x 7" display takeaways the CU used at a couple of educatorfocused tradeshows. The ads were used in a coordinated campaign across several media, including: * the CU's website; * on-hold phone messages; * in-branch plasma displays; * teller top displays; * buck slips; and * social media ( Facebook and Twitter). With its tiny budget, the CU was able to bring in $46,500 in gross revenue, resulting in a huge return on investment. When he found out the CU won, Ellis says there was "dancing. Lots and lots of celebratory dancing. But after all the dancing, we took some time to thank all our employees because this wasn't just a creative award; it was judged on results. And there were lots of non-marketing employees responsible for creating a successful result for this campaign. "We think it was a good product that met our members' needs. And that always makes it easier to market. But all marketing can do is create an interest in a product. It's the frontline folks who have to close the deal," he adds. "I was excited for the marketing team, but not surprised. They do a lot of exceptional things that I receive positive feedback about when I am out at events in the city," says CUES member and President/CEO Daniel Weickenand , of the GMA Golden Shoestring win. "I was thrilled [with it] ... low cost campaign.. .low cost loans... everyone wins!" Resources Read another article about a CUES GMA winner on p. 19. Also read articles at cumanagement.org/ 7 7 Ucommunity strong, cumanagement. org/l213nostalgic, cumanagement. org/0114thumbsup and cumanagement. org/01l4embark. Watch cues.org/gma for updates about the 2014 program. Theresa Witham is a CUES editor, firstname.lastname@example.org .
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