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The Oxnard CBC Federal Credit Union Building.

Case Study: How One Credit Union Wins New Depositors

Stephan Longo has been leading marketing teams in various verticals for more than 25 years. When he was hired as Vice President of Marketing at Southern California’s CBC Federal Credit Union, however, he encountered a different kind of challenge than he had faced before. Winning customers for CBC wasn’t just about inspiring desire or promising value. It was about inviting people into a long-lasting relationship of trust, where CBC would guard the basic building block of their future: their savings.

To make the case for CBC, he conceived of a multi-channel strategy that included OTT television, digital radio, online video, email, Meta ads, and search ads. IdeaRocket had partnered with Longo before in one of his previous engagements, so we were chosen to provide two animated commercials for digital and OTT distribution.

What is a Credit Union?

The first hurdle was explaining what a credit union is. Longo remarks that because credit unions are sometimes affiliated with other organizations, prospects often have a “misconception that special requirements are needed to join us.” The first video in the package would explain that this wasn’t so – that anyone living in the campaign area qualified for membership. 

Moreover, it was important to establish the advantages of credit unions over banks. Because they are non-profits, credit unions can offer better rates. Also, Longo believed that the friendlier, more community-based service of CBC’s staff was a genuine differentiator for them.

“The story we told has a somewhat populist cast,” says IdeaRocket Creative Director, William Gadea. “The heroine is a woman of color. The video dramatizes her feelings of smallness at her bank by showing her as a tiny person among giants. Then she is immersed in a martini glass, presumably held by one of the bank’s shareholders.”

CBC Federal Credit Union is represented by a lifesaving flotation device that brings her to the beach, where she finds the friendly, trustworthy guidance of the CBC staff.

The Product: Epic Premium Checking

Once joining CBC Credit Union was made feasible in the mind of viewers, a special product was needed to get them in the door. That product was Epic Premium Checking, a $10/month account that offers a whole list of free benefits: mobile phone insurance, roadside assistance, identity theft aid, and other perks. 

Says Gadea: “We set up a video game rivalry between a working-age daughter, who is wise to the benefits of Epic Premium checking, and an old-fashioned father who is foolishly put off by the initial price tag.”

Setting Up Attribution

Good creative is important in any campaign, but Longo takes nothing for granted. He has meticulously set up a spreadsheet where he maps his media buys along rows, indicating when in time they start and stop. Then along the bottom he keeps weekly numbers of his KPIs, the most important being Net New Members (new minus lost,) but also including PPC leads and other data.

Attribution is, of course, as much an art as a science. “TV is difficult for attribution,” says Longo. In previous opportunities he had used custom on-screen phone numbers to identify viewers in each outlet, but in this particular context people just didn’t want to make a call. If they are interested, he says, “they either go on-line or they go into a branch.” Digital radio is also problematic for attribution, although podcasts can be measured a bit better with customized URLs.

To measure the effect of digital radio and OTT television he pauses those parts of his campaign for a week at a time. What he noticed in this instance is that all his other numbers, including Meta and Google search, softened. Apparently the brand-building power of television and radio was helping the PPC buys. When he put the TV/Radio on hiatus, he also noticed a weakening of traffic from organic searches.

To further corroborate the impact of television and radio, Longo also has the CBC staff query new account openers as to how they heard of CBC. If they answer “oh, I saw it on the internet” the staff digs deeper to ask whether they saw or heard a TV or radio ad that made them go to the site. The numbers, as he reads them, indicate a significant contribution from television and radio.

Longo has also started experimenting with remarketing on YouTube. “So far we are starting to see some really good results,” he says.

Full-Service Agency vs. Production Partners

Longo reports having worked with full-service agencies before, but for the last ten years he has chosen to keep his fingers on strategy and attribution directly himself. “I work with creative partners and media partners, separately,” he says. The first makes the creative assets, and the second buys distribution for them. He adds: “if you’ve worked in marketing and have had that connection with the creative source yourself, you tend to want to go that way.”

The Results

How is business in general? It’s a tough time for credit unions. “Heavy headwinds right now,” says Longo. Deposits are down in the whole sector. However, they share data with about 60 other credit unions so they can benchmark their results, and relative to their peers, they are doing well. “We are in the top 10%,” reports Longo. 

Moreover, the campaign has been a clear success. “We have had a lift of around 150% for net new members,” their most valued KPI. And Longo attributes a lift of 25% in organic search online applications largely to the TV and radio campaigns. 

CBC is optimistic about their future. They are planning a rebrand that minimizes their identity as a credit union, although they will legally remain one. They are doing it so there is “no perceived hurdle to membership.” They are also opening up a new branch in San Diego, so they are keeping their eyes on growth.

If you, too, are ready to make a play for growth, IdeaRocket is ready to be your trusted partner. Contact us to learn more.

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