NASHVILLE-Representatives from eight credit unions throughout Middle Tennessee have created a group that is working to continue the momentum created by Bank Transfer Day.
Known as The CU Answer, the group is working to spread the word about credit unions through "Gas Mobs," giving away free gasoline each Friday morning for six weeks. The events are promoted on local radio stations (which broadcast live from each gas station) and the location is not revealed until the morning of the event.
"We wanted to put a face with what we were doing," explained Malinda Warchus, marketing manager at Electric Service CU. "We felt like getting out and having our credit union employees speak with people one-on-one was where we needed to go."
Four gas mob events have already been held, with four more scheduled, with the effort set to conclude on Friday, Sept. 21. Each gas station sets aside one pump for the CU's use, and when cars start lining up the credit union representatives hand out certificates for $25 in free gas to the first 66 cars.
"They never have to get out of the car, and we hand them a flyer about credit unions and have a conversation with them about which CUs are in that area that people might be able to join," said Warchus.
Consumers who are already CU members can still get the free gas, and the credit union reps thank them for their membership. CU reps also don't promote any one credit union; all participants wear CU Answer-branded shirts and work to promote credit unions in general, rather than any particular institution.
Time To Chat
Buddy Brent, VP of business development at U.S. Community CU, said that CU Answer members have plenty of time to explain credit unions to drivers, because they chat with them while giving out the free gas certificates as well as while they're pumping the gas, "so we're able to hit them twice."
Brent said that gas in Middle Tennessee currently sells for about $3.49 per gallon, and the group pumps $1,650 of free gas at each event. That amount was determined by calculating group dues for all participating CUs (based on the credit union's asset size, using current league dues as a model) and subtracting the cost of the concurrent CU Answer billboard campaign and other expenses.
While the name is similar to that of Grand Rapids, Mich.-based CUSO CU*Answers, Brent noted that there is no confusion between the two. In fact, the group chose its name with the help of Livonia, Mich.-based CU Solutions Group, which also helped develop its website.
Participating CUs don't currently have a tracking mechanism in place to keep tabs on membership and loan growth as a result of The CU Answer or the gas mobs, but visits to www.thecuanswer.com are tracked via Google Analytics. Brent said that all eight CUs will examine their data later this fall to see if the gas mobs provided any overall lift.
"It goes back to keeping the momentum going from November 5 (Bank Transfer Day) and keeping the credit union name out there," said Brent. "That's what the goal is. If they keep seeing credit union, credit union, credit union, eventually people are going to search it out."
The eight CUs participating so far in The CU Answer are $146-million US Community Credit Union, $27-million Life Credit Union, $56-million Electric Service Credit Union, $28-million Vanderbilt University Credit Union, $247-million Cornerstone Financial Credit Union, $152-million Heritage South Community Credit Union, $25-million St. Thomas Credit Union, and $17-million Wiltruco Employees Credit Union.
The CU Answer hopes to be a statewide initiative within the next 12 months. Tennessee CUs interested in learning more should contact Malinda Warchus (Malinda.Warchus@escu.com) or Buddy Brent (Buddy.Brent@usscu.org).
Subscribers can read a related story at www.cujournal.com by searching the following headline:
It's A Gas, Gas, Gas In Atlanta, Middle Tennessee-Aug. 17