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CU cites success of Happy Unbanking campaign
FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (2/3/12)--In 2008, three years before grassroots activist Kristen Christian challenged consumers to transfer their funds from banks to credit unions on Bank Transfer Day, People's Trust FCU offered Houston-area consumers a similar call to action.

That was when People's Trust FCU launched its "Happy Unbanking" campaign, which highlighted the differences between credit unions and banks.

The credit union's advertising agency provided an outsider's perspective of the not-for-profit financial institutions, Patrick Flynn, sales and promotions coordinator with People's Trust FCU, told the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer Feb. 1). "Credit union members know how great we are, but the majority of the public does not know what a credit union is," Flynn said. "Highlighting our differences from banks is an easy way to communicate what makes us special."

The credit union formed its call to action around a microsite described the credit union cooperative structure and philosophy.

Despite the name, the purpose of the campaign wasn't to attack banks, but to bring attention to the credit union philosophy, Flynn said. "While it did cross our minds that some would consider it 'attacking,' we were confident that the majority would see it for what it was, an ad campaign trying to make a difference and catch people's attention," Flynn said.

The $416 million asset credit union measured the campaign's success through website statistics, new accounts opened, public relations received through local media and industry outlets and feedback from members.

Flynn offered five steps for credit unions considering a similar campaign:

  1. Develop a budget;
  1. Determine how the campaign will support the credit union's mission;
  1. Determine the hook--what will get consumers' attention;
  1. Obtain buy-in, from tellers to the CEO; and
  1. Develop an implementation plan;
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