Unusual Name Requires Unusual Marketing Effort

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.-Can I borrow some mazuma? How about putting your mazuma where your mouth is? Say what?

"Say Mazuma" — an ad campaign from $448-million, 52,000-member Mazuma Credit Union here — is designed to leverage the CU's unusual name (which is pronounced "muh-ZOO-muh.")

Originally chartered to serve federal employees and with a name reflecting that FOM, the credit union changed its name in 1998 in honor of its 50th anniversary. Mazuma is a Yiddish word for "money," and President/CEO Rob Givens explained that the CU launched the new branding 13 years ago with the tagline "Mazuma means money."

But that tagline was abandoned after a year or so, said Givens, who came aboard in 2001, and "it never got a great deal of traction." He added that even some longstanding members have had confusion about the unusual name — some refer to it as Montezuma CU — and that folks in the community have had a hard time finding it in the phone book and on the Internet. All of that has led to the awareness campaign.

A decade ago the credit union was less than half its current asset size, noted Givens, so the budget may have been inadequate to promote the name change at that time. In addition, Mazuma CU has traditionally put its marketing dollars behind products, not branding, said Givens.

"We're basically trying to say 'We're a credit union; we get that you don't know who we are or what we are. We're like a bank, and this is what we offer,'" explained Givens.

The ad strategy was created in conjunction with local advertising firm Beyond Marketing.

Other Efforts To Get The Word Out

Mazuma has also made other efforts to keep its name in front of its community within the last few years, said Givens, including a recent sponsorship of a minor-league hockey team and an upcoming partnership with the Kansas City Royals. There are no specific measurable goals for the campaign-Givens noted that it can be difficult to reliably track a branding campaign's success-but that the most important thing for the credit union is just raising awareness.

"Like any credit union, yes, we'd like to have new members," he said. "But one of the other things we're doing is we're really focused on the member experience. We got about 6,200 new members last year, and they came because their friends and neighbors had a great experience with us. What we're trying to do with the campaign is help their friends and neighbors remember to talk about us. We find that the strongest marketing we can do is put really satisfied, loyal members out there."

The "Say Mazuma" campaign has a two-month schedule and includes billboards and radio. Subsequent campaigns will be built around the Royals partnership during the summer and then become more product-oriented come fall, he added.

"Say Mazuma," more than anything, said Givens, is "a clever twist on a somewhat unusual name. We all know what a Volkswagen is, but every now and then they do something that plays on 'the peoples' car,' because that's what it means. This is just saying that we know we have a funky name; let's be humorous about it, but let's use that as a vehicle to tell you what we do."

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