Dustin Bagstad
Dustin Bagstad

Dedicated to Marketing

Bicycle program builds relationships with college students.

October 6, 2015

DUSTIN BAGSTAD had been at $58 million asset Governmental Employees Credit Union, a one-branch establishment in La Crosse, Wis., for almost 15 years when he became marketing director last May—the first dedicated marketing person in the credit union’s history.

He jumped in immediately, starting with a revamp of the credit union’s Facebook strategy. “We weren’t really using it correctly. We were posting on it only occasionally. I started us [adding] at least one or two fresh posts per week, alternating between product information and fun facts.”

Then he recruited staff in the effort, inviting them to ask their Facebook friends to post “likes” on the credit union’s updated Facebook page.

Bagstad also introduced ticket giveaways to a local minor league baseball team, as well as silent auctions online. “We received bids from as far away as New York and Rhode Island.”

Another successful outreach was his Cute Pet Contest on Facebook. He’d expected perhaps a dozen cute pet photo submissions, but wound up with four times that number.

“It cost us about $100 to put it on,” he says. “The main expenses were some Visa gift cards. Our Facebook engagement went through the roof from that one.”

Bagstad says his marketing chops come from his parents, who taught him how to comfortably interact with people and approach them in a friendly way. “When I’m out and about, I’ll see some of our members on the sidewalk, and greet them: ‘Hi, Joan’ or ‘Hey, Steve!’ ”

Another of Dustin’s innovations is a bicycle loan program he designed to build relationships with college students. “We have 20,000 students here in a metro area of 100,000—a huge number in an area where bicycling has grown by leaps and bounds. We offer loans from $300 to $10,000 with a 3.99% interest rate.”

The credit union has partnered with two local bike shops to publicize the effort. “The loans are a way to get into college students’ heads with a positive experience, taking out what for many of them is the first loan they’ve sought on their own.”

Even in private life Dustin knows how to use technology to persuade. A piano tutor who first learned to play the instrument at age five, he had one very reluctant fifth-grade student who came alive once Dustin realized how much the boy engaged with his iPad.

“I had him download an app that let him play a simulated piano on the iPad. He took to it immediately. Now he’s one of my best, most dedicated students.”