From left, Mike Brooks, campaigns lead for BrandCap; Tara Graff, senior vice president pf marketing and business development at Hiway CU, St. Paul, Minn.; Graeme Trayner, managing director of the Glover Park Group; Teresa Freeborn, chair of CUNA’s Awareness Advisory Group; and Jill Tomalin, CUNA chief operating officer, lead a discussion on the Awareness initiative Tuesday at CUNA GAC.

Early Open Your Eyes numbers ‘much higher’ than anticipated

March 12, 2019

CUNA’s Open Your Eyes to A Credit Union® initiative is already making an impression on consumers, according to analysis of the content rolled out so far. Tuesday at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) featured a panel discussion on the Awareness initiative led by CUNA Chief Operating Officer Jill Tomalin.

The initiative is meant to change consumer perceptions that block their consideration of credit unions for financial services. It is different than direct response marketing and is meant to strengthen consumer perceptions as they see more and more content over time. 

“Within a few short weeks we’ve made nine million digital impressions with consumers. Four million people have seen the creative content and 1.5 million videos have been viewed to completion, all of which are higher than our benchmarks,” said Mike Brooks, campaigns lead for BrandCap, the creative agency CUNA has worked with to develop the strategy and content for the initiative. “People are stopping what they’re doing to watch these messages from beginning to end in much higher numbers than we would have anticipated this early in the media campaign.”

Brooks put it simply when he said, the goal is to reach “the highest number of people in our target audiences, the most times, as efficiently as possible.”

Tara Graff, senior vice president of marketing and business development at Hiway CU, St. Paul, Minn. said the she liked that the digital-first campaign finding people where they are, in the digital spaces they use. Open Your Eyes launched in Minnesota earlier this year.

“While this national effort is meant to stand on its own, it’s also meant to align with and really strengthen your credit union’s marketing efforts,” she said. “At Hiway we’ve already used the Open Your Eyes messaging as a jumping off point for own brand building work.”

Teresa Freeborn, who chairs CUNA’s Credit Union Creating Consideration Committee and serves as president/CEO of Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, Calif., said during the panel that this initiative needs system-wide buy-in. 

“We need to do this as a group of credit unions. I can’t do it alone as CEO of Xceed, you can’t do it alone, even in your communities, the research and market share has borne that out,” she said. “We can continue the good work we do in our marketing. None of that stops, we’re still wanting to sell products and services and build your own individual brands.

“But at the same, if we’re also building that bigger brand, which is what this is, we create a whole new level of consumer interest that makes all of our marketing work much better, more efficiently,” she added.

Originally tasked with finding a research-driven way to increase awareness of credit unions as a category, Brooks said it quickly became apparent that most people (98%) know what credit unions are, but 72% of non-members said they weren’t likely to consider using a credit union.

“That doesn’t mean they’re actively not selecting a credit union, or that they dislike us or think we’re wrong for them, we’re just not there,” he said. “Because of the myths we’ve identified, people have consciously or subconsciously written credit unions out of their consideration set.”

So the initiative set out to look at ways to change people’s behavior. Graeme Trayner, managing director of the Glover Park Group, said it won’t be an easy journey looking to change decades of consumer behavior.

“We know we’re pushing back against a lot of deeply held perceptions, but we have a great strategy, great content and we’ve seen great energy and commitment from the credit union movement,” he said.

Going into CUNA GAC more than 425 credit union organizations have pledged more than a $30 million to fund the campaign over three years. In addition to Minnesota, the campaign is live in the Carolinas.

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