HOLLYWOOD, Calif.–When $984-million First Entertainment Credit Union was seeking to generate $5 million in auto loans and to raise its awareness among potential members within the local community, it decided to face the music.

 

First Entertainment chose to be the “Presenting Sponsor” of a summer-long series of Concerts in the Park hosted by the nearby City of Santa Clarita. Roy MacKinnon, VP of marketing, said the event provided consistent ongoing promotion of the credit union and its “278 Tour” for a two-month period.

 

“In addition to the marketing we did, any time the city talked about or otherwise publicized the event we were recognized and/or acknowledged as the 'Presenting Sponsor,’ he recalled.

 

The primary product being promoted was a 2.78% auto loan that could be used to refinance a member’s auto loan or to purchase a new or used vehicle. While First Entertainment’s primary FOM is people within the entertainment industry, the concert event was targeted at anyone who lives in the Santa Clarita Valley, as it has a community charter for the area.

 

FECU has had a presence in the Santa Clarita market since approximately 1998, but with a very small branch that was not easily accessible. In January 2011 it relocated the branch to a large shopping center, and management knew it was time to commence some “serious marketing efforts.”

 

Custom 'Perks’

 

MacKinnon’s total marketing budget for the series was $84,900, which represented 6.53% of the CU’s annual marketing budget of $1.3 million. The total direct cost of $84,900 broke down as follows: placement/distribution: $7,000 for eight print ads; $25,000 Presenting Sponsor fee; $5,200 postage for direct mail; $20,700 for creative; $7,000 for beach balls (2,400); $3,100 for custom tent (which will be used the next two years); $10,600 T-shirts (3,200); $2,300 CREW Wear (100); and $4,000 direct mail printing.

 

To get the word out, direct mail were sent to approximately 30,000 member, with support from street light pole banners, print ads, mentions on the City of Santa Clarita website and the CU’s own website, a custom First Entertainment tent at each concert, a custom “Perks” handout at the concert, in-branch Concerts in the Park teller window signs (with a new one each week), custom “CREW” shirts and an “Access All Areas” backstage pass for staff to wear at the concerts, backlit posters at selected branches, Facebook and Twitter posts, and custom T-shirts and beach balls given away at each concert.

 

The beach balls were custom manufactured in the credit union’s corporate colors.

 

First Entertainment also created custom logos for each band that then were incorporated into the print ads, posters and teller window signs. The print ad was a full-page color ad directly across from a full-page color ad from the City of

Santa Clarita promoting that week’s concert.

 

Stellar Results

 

In a similar loan promotion in 2011, First Entertainment did $3 million in loans. It set the goal at $5 million this year, but actual volume was $7.6 million. Gross revenue was $170,303, representing first year interest income using an effective yield of 2.24%. The ROI on the $84,900 cost was 200.59%.

 

According to MacKinnon, the sponsorship was so successful because existing members and new members seemed to “really identify” with the credit union’s sponsorship of the event.

 

“Perhaps it was our name and/or the market-leading auto loan rate we were running, but the positive feedback from folks at the show and our members convinced us that this event was a perfect way to help the credit union grow and support the community,” he assessed. “Tying in the theme of a real music tour also played positively with the community; from the free t-shirts to the beach balls, many people told us they were surprised we would do such a thing, but in a good way.”

 

MacKinnon said First Entertainment was “amazed” to learn that so many in attendance at the shows really did not know much about credit unions. “So this event provided a perfect low-stress, enjoyable atmosphere in which we could spread the word.

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