Members Get The Skinny With Low-Carb Promotion

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Escambia County Employees Credit Union's new "carb-friendly" loan promotion won't make its members look better spending their money.

But, says Marketing Specialist Kurt Stenerson, the campaign that borrows from the popular Atkins Diet craze just might make them feel better about saving some of it.

In a highly competitive market where about a dozen credit unions "are tripping over each other," ECECU was seeking to develop something that would grab people's attention and draw them in, Stenerson said.

"We're a small credit union (with $35 million in assets) so we take an overall approach," he said. The current campaign includes direct mail and member newsletter advertising all of which promote Escambia County Employees' loan services.

"We decided not to do anymore television or cable ads," he said. "We tracked the results for most of last year and didn't see any significant changes. There wasn't even any top of mind awareness from members we surveyed."

Its member newsletter touting the Atkins-like campaign promised that "everything on the menu is guaranteed to be carb friendly" and that "special orders" were not necessary as the process was convenient and hassle free both online and offline.

Stenerson said he came up with the campaign during a not-so carbohydrate-friendly lunch.

"I was sitting at a Taco Bell eating grilled stuffed burrito and started looking at the little hot sauces," he said, explaining that the clever one liners such as "Mild sauce...the new ketchup" printed on the packages caught his attention.

"I started thinking about our loans and how that could relate," he said. "Auto loans are our bread and butter, they're carburetor friendly...carb friendly."

After gobbling the meal that would make the diet guru shudder, Stenerson said he went back to the office and searched the Internet for the Atkins logo.

With some tweaking that included changing the A to an E and replacing one word in the tagline to read "Feel the ECECU Change," Stenerson and a graphic artist that he hired created a logo that makes people take a second look.

"You can't drive around this area without seeing a credit union (advertising) this or a credit union that," he said, adding that another CU in the area is offering auto loans at 3.49% with $100 cash back. ECECU's current rate is 3.9%.

Despite the difference, he said, loan officers at ECECU said informal surveys of members applying for loans indicated that the low carb loans "piqued their interest."

"Last month-the first month of the promotion-board stats showed that we had a larger number come in for line-of-credit loans."

ECECU was founded to serve employees of Escambia County and recently changed its bylaws to include all employees of all companies within the same county that have five or more employees.

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