SEATTLE-Verity Credit Union won't be doing any more cartwheels to raise awareness in 2012, but it is doing cartwheels over two offbeat strategies that worked well earlier this year.

Verity CU rolled out a "Cartwheel For A Cause" video contest earlier this year, which offered members of its community an opportunity to win $1,000 for themselves, plus a $5,000 donation to their favorite cause-all for turning a cartwheel on camera (CU Journal, March 7).

Melina Young, marketing manager for the $378-million CU, said "Cartwheel" and, separately, its "Verity Mom" contests have been a hit. Verity Mom is the title it has given to a member it selected for the post and which pays $20,000 in exchange for the winner blogging about the credit union

"We just wrapped up a Verity Mom contest a few weeks ago," Young reported. "The winner was Danielle Gahl, and she is all over the Verity Mom website. She does videos with crafting tips and we are excited to have her."

This year's Verity Mom contest drew a record number of entries: 70. Young said the first Mom, Rosemary Garner, "was so great we had her stick around for a second year. Danielle has a $20,000 contract for one year, and the goal is to have a new Verity Mom each year."

According to Young, the Verity Mom contest helps the CU let people know it targets mothers. She said the contest has helped bring in new members because it is "so different" from a traditional credit union promotion, such as for a loan offer.

Wildly Creative Mother
"We are looking for a wildly creative mom to talk about herself, which gets people excited. It brings us people who might not be in the market for a credit union or a bank at the moment."

Verity CU does not currently plan to run a second Cartwheel in January 2012, as it did this year, but Young said VCU is "definitely considering doing it again as it was really successful."

This year's Cartwheel contest brought in 60,000 page views for the videos that were submitted, Young reported. "It generated buzz about Verity Credit Union, so we are keeping in on the radar."

Young said other CUs considering offering video contests should know it is important to not rely just on traditional marketing/advertising channels. She said Verity contacted local charities and encouraged them to get people to participate in the Cartwheel contest.

"So in addition to media ads, we hit the ground and let the charities know it was about them and we were supporting them," she said.

For any of the contests, Verity has found working with a partner is beneficial. Young said running a contest "is good and brings in a lot of value to the credit union," but she warned there is a great deal of behind-the-scenes work to do such as checking that the submissions met all the requirements. Verity has worked with Currency Marketing out of Canada, which helps many credit unions run contests.

"The key is to not be afraid to do something different," Young advised. "People respond well if you are willing to go head first. Be prepared to put a lot of effort into it because it doesn't run itself, but it definitely is well worth doing."

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