WAYNESBORO, Va.-As numerous CUs have learned over the years, letting members tell the credit union's story can be some of the strongest marketing the organization undertakes.

DuPont Community Credit Union found that out last year when it ran its "Our Member Stories" video testimonials on TV and the web. The loan-holders talked about how the credit union paid special attention to them when other lenders would not, helped them through some personal difficulties, and got them into a home when they had just about given up hope.

The campaign lifted DCCU by $22 million over its goal of generating $60 million in mortgage loans in 2012.

"We introduced the campaign in September and we saw strong mortgage loan volume all the way up to and through the holidays," said Steve Elkins, SVP, retail, lending and marketing. "Typically we see a drop-off in mortgage lending when Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around."

The $850-million credit union hoped the advertising could help overcome some of the typical marketing challenges credit unions face-people think they can't join and don't know the credit union offers a full fleet of mortgage lending products.

"DCCU has been a mortgage lender for over 40 years and we have never conducted a true outreach to the community for mortgage products," said Elkins. "We decided we wanted to invest in what is our cornerstone product."


In With Both Feet

Outside of letting the community know the credit union is in the mortgage business with both feet, the campaign aimed to tell the story of a credit union that is involved closely in the community, is full-service, and offers service and counseling that is unmatched by other FIs. Elkins said that message works best when members deliver it.

"People want endorsements before they make important decisions, like getting a mortgage," said Elkins. "They want to hear those endorsements from family, friends, and from people who live in their community, not from a paid actor. These commercials come across as truly genuine. They were not scripted and the two members we used just told their own stories. They are powerful and moving."

It didn't hurt, acknowledged Elkins, with all the anti-bank sentiment today that the members took a few swings at the big banks, noting they had been turned away from large FIs when they first went seeking a mortgage.

"That was inadvertent. We did not seek out members who had an axe to grind against the banks. We always take the high road in our advertising when it comes to addressing the banks and all of their problems. We don't do bank bashing, but if the member wants to do that on our behalf, that is OK."


Full Page of Testimonials

Elkins said DCCU has countless numbers of similar member stories it could have told over the years. With that kind of member loyalty, going forward the credit union wants to build a library of testimonials to sway members and consumers to use the CU and to use it more.

"These two stories are now on a single landing page on our website (www.mydccu.com/MemberStories). We want to eventually have that page full of testimonials. This is a cost effective-way we can share our story with the community. So if we do good job of driving people to our site, we feel these testimonials will engage, inform, and get people interested in using the CU."

DCCU spent $15,000-$20,000 on production and placement of the commercials, which also overlap onto billboards and bus signs. The campaign is not currently running as loan adverting has turned to credit cards. But Elkins said the effort will come back in early spring with new testimonials.

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