In this issue Credit Union Journal features Part 2 of its "25 Best Practices in Credit Unions 2012." As with Part 1 in the Nov. 26 issue, these Best Practices include a broad range of tactics and strategies to drive growth. As always, Credit Union Journal welcomes your feedback.

LAS VEGAS-By taking advantage of consumer frustration with banks, $132-million WestStar Credit Union has successfully driven growth with a "Kick Some Asterisk" marketing campaign, and seen some terrific ROI in the process.

The Kick Some Asterisk campaign was designed to reach out to consumers who were fed up with hidden fees-often denoted by an asterisk-and to provide the CU's "truly free" checking account. Members were able to kick some asterisk in real life via a "punch wall" of actual asterisks. Participants were selected from those who opened a free checking account with WestStar, referred a friend or initiated online banking.

WestStar recorded video of the punch wall event and posted it to its Facebook page.

Proving that timing matters greatly, WestStar already had the promotion in development four weeks prior to Bank of America's announcement of a proposed $5 monthly fee for using a debit card, which led to Bank Transfer Day.

WestStar said several factors drove the success of the campaign, including reaching people quickly and efficiently, thereby putting it in a real-time connection with its intended audience with the message: "WestStar understands how people are fed up with bank fees and practices, and we offer a solution-a totally free checking account."

CEO Rick Schmidt said the campaign was a continuation of a concept that garnered WestStar a CU Journal Best Practice in 2011, as well.

"As with everything we are doing these days it is something different that will attract attention in non-traditional ways," he explained. "We do not have the budget to do heavy television or billboard advertising. With our job fairs, line dance marathon and other events, we are generating awareness and getting our name out there in a way people will remember because it is different."

WestStar said all channels, from online to offline, were integrated with promotional graphics and content designed to best fit each channel and be "share worthy."


The Components of the Campaign

Components of the campaign included traditional media, branch posters, statement inserts, entry tickets, and its own newsletter. Digital media included targeted e-mail blasts and Facebook ads, a microsite and website graphics. There were also the punch wall and videos of winners.

The total cost was $16,350. WestStar said during the campaign period that ran for three months it opened 255 new checking accounts with $175,000 in balances. More importantly, additional new business as a secondary result to initial account opening included: 67 Visa cards for $52,800 in balances; 172 personal loans for $90,850; 22 vehicle loans for $2,196,000, and total new loans of $2,339,650

WestStar was nominated by Online Resources Corp., which powers the CU's digital banking platform.

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