Biggest Challenge? Goals Keep Being Exceeded

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SPOKANE, Wash.-About the only thing that has gone wrong in Global Credit Union's program to save its members money has been the goal-setting: it keeps beating the target amount and is forced to raise it.

The $340-million credit union developed a plan to save its members a half-million dollars in a half-year. The program launched in June with little fanfare-no radio, TV or newspaper advertisements-and was expected to take six months to accomplish. Instead, the initial savings goal was reached in three months, prompting Global to extend it to $1-million by the end of 2010.

Abby Koder, Global's marketing manager, said the $1-million mark proved to be no barrier, either.

"We well exceeded our goal with more than $1.3-million in savings by the end of November," she declared. "We are really happy with the results, and we have plans to re-launch the campaign in January with a $3-million goal."

Koder said GCU reached out to its branch employees and explained to them why the savings campaign was important. She said the motivation was simple: Global members had loans elsewhere on which they were paying high rates.

"We have great rates and were able to get them into better loans," she said. "It also was an opportunity to teach members how to improve their credit score and get even better rates and terms. Our people are like a lot of other credit union folks and were averse to talking about sales. We emphasized this was not a 'sales campaign' but an opportunity to help people. Our members could see the motivation was to save them money, while at the same time it helped increase our loan portfolio and help the credit union stay safe and sound. When you put together helping people and our employees feeling they were really helping people, we were able to reach the significant goal very quickly."

The campaign has gone into a relatively quiet period in December, although Koder said staff is continuing to talk to members. The short-term goal is to help members think about what they will be doing early next year.

"In January we are going to target transferring balances from higher-interest credit cards which people used to do their holiday shopping," she said. "The goal is to hit $3 million in savings for 2011. It is a stretch goal because that is a lot, but we think members are more familiar with the savings that are available. It will include credit cards, auto loans and home mortgages. It will be more difficult to reach than when we first set the half-million goal but it is doable and it is important. We want to reach the highest number of people possible. We hope the people we helped this year will start talking to their friends and family and it will become viral and generate new members."

Global has some ideas for special advertising of the savings campaign on its Facebook page and Twitter, but Koder noted there are no plans for spending large amounts of money on mass media advertising.

"It will be a viral approach to get the word out," she said.

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