SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (8/15/11)--By transforming a Christmas tree that stands in its lobby into a mortgage marketing vehicle, Vermont VA FCU, White River Junction, Vt., earned the fiscal third quarter 2011 Marketing Achievement Award from CU Members Mortgage. Wooden houses hang from the tree’s branches, prompting curious members to ask about the credit union’s mortgage services. “Because of this tree we have had more activity with our mortgage products than we’ve ever had,” Vermont VA’s CEO Sandi White told the Association of Vermont Credit Unions (AVCU) (Newslines Express Aug. 12). It’s too early to track mortgage application results, White said. But she is certain mortgage application activity has increased. Vermont VA’s mortgage tree evolved from the credit union’s Christmas tree’s--which has taken on an expanded role as a seasonally themed tree: Easter tree, St. Patrick’s Day tree, Memorial Day tree, even a tree depicting the local rainy weather in Vermont, full of flowers with an umbrella hat perched on top. “The members keep coming in to see what’s up with the tree,” White said. “They love it. They even come in and take pictures of it.” The mortgage tree was both creative and cost-effective, said Linda Clampitt, CU Members Mortgage senior vice president. “To repurpose their Christmas tree into a mortgage tree among other holiday and seasonal ideas is such a ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ campaign, we had to give the award to Vermont VA,” Clampitt said. “It’s such a simple, yet very effective, way to get the members talking about your services, creating a buzz that spreads. We can’t wait to hear about the results when they come in, too.” CU Members Mortgage is an AVCU business partner.