Campaign Tied To Charity-Not Toasters-Boosts Checking Accounts

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Charlotte Metro Credit Union increased new checking account openings to about 100 a week from 100 a month during a six-week promotion that also raised more than $10,000 for a local charity.

Called the "No Toasters" campaign, it committed $10 for each new account opened to the Victory Junction Camp for critically ill children.

VP-Marketing Deb McLean said other financial institutions in the area were offering everything from free backpacks and casserole dishes to tool kits and toasters to lure new business.

"When I started looking at my budget, I noticed that we had a specific amount set aside for the little gimmies," she said. "But then I started thinking about how we just committed to raising money for Victory Junction Camp."

The North Carolina Credit Union League is sponsoring fundraisers for the camp-part of Paul Newman's Hole-In-the-Wall Gang camps- throughout the year. NASCAR racing legends, Richard and Kyle Petty, donated land in nearby Randleman, N.C. to house the facility.

McLean said she felt the $5,000 available for the token gifts would be better spent on the charitable community venture. After developing the concept, McLean hired Liberty Creative to help create billboard, radio and print advertisements. "I have experimented with using just one medium in the past," she said. "But I didn't get the results I wanted. I think you have to have the visuals with the billboards, the radio because this is such a commuter town, and the print for all the detail."

CMCU is community chartered with $120-million in assets. While McLean said she didn't have exact numbers on what the campaign cost, she believes it has been well worth the investment. "You can look at it solely from what drives a checking account," she said, "but I thinks it's a little more incorporated than that."

Using Liberty's MCIF service, she said she would determine what these new checking account holders have in the way of financial products and services and what they are eligible for. "And, then they will be hearing from me throughout the year."

The final count for the six-week campaign was almost 600 checking accounts. "Typically, we get 100 in a month," she said.

McLean said a lot of the credit for the campaign's success goes to the CU's account managers who worked hard to open as many new checking accounts as they could in exchange for prizes.

The winner, Sharlene Rudolph, who opened twice as many accounts as the second place winner, was dubbed "Queen of Checking Accounts" for a day. She also received a certificate for a "Richard Petty Driving Experience" at Charlotte Motor Speedway, compliments of radio station WSOC-FM. She said the radio station is a big supporter of NASCAR.

During a staff recognition ceremony, Rudolph was presented with a crown and scepter and wrapped in a red cape. She said her winning strategy was simple: "Ask everybody."

"People who came in for a car loan, an ATM card or anything else for that matter, were asked if they knew about our checking accounts," McLean said, explaining that it gave Rudolph the perfect opportunity to explain the service features and make them feel good about donating some money to a good charity.

Rudolph's strategy was shared during a follow-up staff meeting and encouraged for all cross-selling opportunities, McLean said.

McLean said the campaign served a dual purpose for Charlotte Metro CU and others in the state as well. Among the radio advertisements was a conversation during which one individual was bragging about receiving a free toaster from his financial institution while the other talked about how credit unions think people helping people is much more important.

"It really raised awareness about the differences between credit unions and banks," she said.

McLean said the campaign included "No Toasters" buttons-a toaster on fire in the middle of a red circle with a slash across it-a visual that received a lot of praise. "Everywhere I went, I wore my "no toasters" button," she said. "People came up all the time and commented on it. They said they loved the idea."

During the CU's annual meeting later this month, CMCU will present officials of Victory Junction Camp with a check for $11,700.

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