How One CU Created Great Visibility for New Branch

Register now

WAYNESVILLE, N.C-Champion CU stashed money all over this town to encourage residents to come to the credit union's grand opening.

The $143-million CU hid $3,000 in cash vouchers in the downtown area where the credit union's newest branch is located. Bright green envelopes were concealed inside restaurant menus, taped to gas station pumps, and placed in shoe store shoe boxes.

The idea was to do something unlike the typical grand openings that feature credit union officials and local dignitaries cutting a ribbon with a giant scissors, something that would be more of an attendance draw instead of just pomp and circumstance for the camera. And what better draw could there be than cash?

Cash Vs. Cookies

"We thought we'd get a lot more people if we told them to stop by to get some money instead of punch and cookies," said Champion CU Marketing Director Cathy Arrington.

The envelopes contained vouchers for cash in denominations from $25 to $100, and the message inside told people they had to stop by during the May 7 grand opening to get their money. At press time, Arrington said she expected at least 700 residents to show up. That included people who got their shot at grabbing as much money as they could in 10 seconds inside the credit union's cash box.

Of course, it's not enough to offer cash-people have to know it's there.

Champion sent 6,000 postcards to residents inviting them to attend the grand opening and take a turn in the cash machine, which was stocked with $3,000 and blew the money around via fans.

Champion, based in Canton, N.C., advertised the grand opening and the stashed cash on TV, in newspapers, and via e-mail blasts with the message: "Cash is floating all over Waynesville."

The reason for the big push? The new branch also represents Champion's first foray into a new a market-a market that already has a bank in place with which the credit union will be in direct compeition.

"We are coming into a market with a bank across the street," noted Arrington. "We spent a lot of money on the branch and we wanted to come in with a bang."

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Branch network
MORE FROM AMERICAN BANKER