Recruitment of new customers by credit unions and community banks is taking all shapes and sizes this fall, ranging from overt marketing to more subtle plays that remind consumers about how the institution's business model differs from large banks.

At Congressional Federal Credit Union, the latest bait's coming in the form of a very traditional paper-based marketing effort that has been migrated to the internet with some promising early results.

The 44,0000-member, $690 million-asset credit union, which serves staffers and other people connected to the U.S. Congress, has purchased an online lead generating system from Code Green called Loan Saver. The hosted system allows members to quickly determine the potential savings from consolidating and transferring loans and credit cards to the credit union from other lenders. The service then alerts the credit union's lending team, in an effort to expedite onboarding.

In the eight weeks since the launch, the product produced 186 loan leads for a total of $1.03 million in approved loans, an increase in 16 percent over the same period last year. The credit union also said the average estimated "lifetime" savings per member migration has been about $2,400.

"In most cases this is a big number that gets the members' attention and results in their request for a savings proposal," says Sharmaine Bucknor, a director for the credit union. "Showing the savings this way, as compared to the monthly savings, is a much more effective way of creating member interest in moving their loans."

The credit union's migration of its lead generation to the web evolved from a direct mail campaign that it used for years. Members would fill out inventory sheets on loans, credit cards and other relationships, and would mail the form back into the credit union.

The credit union would then crunch the numbers to determine how much the member would save by taking a new loan with the credit union based on available terms, as well as the savings from moving other financial relationships.

"This [new product] is the interactive version of this [mailing] tool," says Jason Green, CEO of Code Green, of the service, which is delivered to the credit union on a white-label basis. "People don't know there's a third party involved." Green's background includes founding Adfluence, a data-driven financial services marketing firm and degrees in computer and electrical engineering.

In the new, online version of Congressional CU's lead generator, members enter information such as current balance, loan amount and annual percentage rate, and the site does the calculation automatically. Loan Saver is displayed inside the credit union's web environment. The integration is a one-line HTML tag that gets pasted into the credit union's page.

The credit union is using Loan Saver as part of its "Great Loan Makeover" sweepstakes, which is being supported through a variety of email, direct mail and banner ad campaigns.

"Congressional FCU relies on traditional marketing channels including direct mail, emails, web ads, targeted media, etc," Bucknor says. "The difference with Loan Saver is the immediacy of the loan lead. We get the member's contact and loan information instantly, so we are ready to follow up with them directly when the benefit of moving their loans to the credit union is fresh on their mind."