FORT WAYNE, Ind.–Another credit union has used the kissing booth strategy as a tactic to lure consumers from banks to credit unions. Fire Police City County FCU here has been running a “Kiss Your Bank Goodbye” campaign in in response to public frustration over fees at the big banks.

“We decided 'Why don’t you just kiss your bank goodbye and join our credit union?’” explained Angie Felger, marketing director at the 7,900-member, $86-million credit union.

FPCCFCU  had “Kiss Your Bank Goodbye” t-shirts made–with bright colors so they were easy to spot and covered in pictures of kissy-face lips–and wore the shirts at community festivals. Fire Police City County employees also set up a kissing booth and handed out items like wax lips, lip whistles and gummy lips, along with information about the credit union. Felger called CEO Nancy Kline the driving force behind the campaign.

The city’s annual Get Green Festival–held each year at St. Patrick’s Day–was a boost, said Felger. Not only has the CU provided volunteers to it for several years, but attendance has been rising every year. The solid response FPCCFCU received at the festival led it to do similar efforts at other events such as the Fort Wayne Three Rivers Festival, Art in the Park and shooting the t-shirts out of the t-shirt cannon at Fort Wayne Tin Caps baseball games.

Fire Police City County is not a community charter and has avoided using mass media, so tracking the lift it has gotten is a challenge. According to the credit union’s Call Report data, membership increased by just over 4% between September 2011 and September 2012. Felger said the CU saw growth slightly above normal, though she did not attribute it to Bank Transfer Day, as many credit unions have.

 

'Business As Usual’

“It was just kind of business as usual. I think it took a lot longer for everyone around here to get it; it just seemed to be more popular in other places,” she said. “Especially with the bigger banks, we’re not really inundated with Bank of Americas here. People did slowly start to recognize–it just took a bit longer, I think.” Loan growth, she said, was steady and largely no different than it usually is. According to its 5300 data, loans rose by $4.2 million (6.8%) between September 2011 and September 2012.

Heading into 2013, Fire Police City County is preparing a similar campaign based around switching to a CU, though it may not bring back Kiss Your Bank Goodbye. Additionally, the credit union plans to open two more branches before the end of 2012. Felger said that there will be no major changes to the next campaign.

“It’s just a matter of us getting our name out there and the awareness out there,” said Felger, noting that while the CU doesn’t do much advertising, it does SEG visits throughout the community on a regular basis. “We can do some advertising, but I think we’ll do the same as far as just getting out there into the community. We do a lot of community service, so that’s how people know us.”

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