Partners Pledges $25,000 in Sponsorship to CUNA Awareness Initiative

In continued support of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA)-led Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union® Awareness Initiative that was created to drive consumer consideration of credit unions using a plug-and-play digital marketing campaign, Partners is pledging $25,000 in sponsorship to help cover contribution requirements for smaller credit unions. Partners will also join forces with CUNA to host a series of workshops to help credit unions build advertising plans using the campaign.

The initiative’s targeted approach is designed to change consumer perceptions of credit unions and take on commonly held myths about the industry. The campaign has already launched in four states—Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina and South Carolina—where it has garnered over 100 million impressions and reached more than 6.2 million consumers through programmatic advertising, 4.3M on social media and 1.3M on YouTube as of June 30. The goal is to build the campaign out nationally by 2020.

With its pledge of $25,000, Partners hopes to build momentum around the campaign and help smaller credit unions that wish to participate, but lack the means, gain access to these valuable resources. Partners President and CEO John Janclaes sees the awareness initiative as a call-to-action. “I have my individual mission so I may not be able to work side-by-side with my peers in the credit union industry all of the time, but there are times we can come together as a movement,” he says. “We’re not in competition. We’re a collective, and I think this campaign is a moment for credit unions to come together. And, together, we can do great things.”

Research conducted by CUNA shows that many Americans still believe common misconceptions about credit unions, such as not being eligible or that they may have a hard time accessing their money. Executive Vice President and Chief Member Service Officer Mike Terzian says the initiative will help demystify credit unions for consumers. “The image of credit unions has been a friendly mom and pop service organization with limited delivery ability. Credit unions haven’t been known for evolving technology and digital services, but they’re nice,” he explains. “It doesn’t have to be either/or—it can be both.”

Getting this message out to consumers is at the heart of CUNA’s campaign, and Partners is committed to helping achieve this shared goal. “But it takes money to make this happen,” John points out. “So, we stepped up and made an investment in the campaign. We also understand that it’ll take effort to get the word out, and that this isn’t a one-time thing. That’s why we’re in it for the long haul. After all—big credit unions, small credit unions, rural credit unions, urban credit unions—we’re all coming at the same mission, which is to help households thrive financially.”

The Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union® campaign, which includes air-cover ad placements at the regional level designed to complement local credit unions’ marketing campaigns, raises the profile for all credit unions. Small credit unions with limited marketing budgets will especially benefit from the marketing resources available to all campaign contributors. “Budget is a realistic constraint for some smaller credit unions,” Mike says. “It’s important to note that retail banks outspend credit unions $43 to $1 in marketing, and part of that is to tell not only their story, but our story. So, we have to get ahead of that narrative. With this campaign you don’t need a huge budget. It has a high degree of usability. You just have to be smart in how you deploy the tactics.”

Chris Lorence Sponsorship funds contributed by Partners and other credit unions will be allocated by CUNA to ensure that even the smallest institutions benefit from the national campaign. “We’re enormously grateful for Partners’ leadership and support of the Awareness initiative,” said Chris Lorence, CUNA Chief Credit Union Awareness Officer. “Not only are they contributors, they have now taken the extra step to bring more credit unions into the initiative through a generous sponsorship.”

Partners will also host several hands-on workshops with CUNA to help participating credit unions leverage these resources. “Once they’re in the game, we can talk about how to use these assets and be effective, ways to measure who you’re hitting, and how you can tell if it’s working or not,” Mike says. “As a larger credit union, we have more opportunities to try things out and learn from our mistakes. If we can share those lessons to help other credit unions, we’re going to.”

Making sure smaller credit unions can thrive and grow is important to the overall health of the industry. There were nearly 7,700 federally insured credit unions in the U.S. in June of 2009. Now, it’s down to approximately 5,500. The drop is due in part to the fact that organizations are merging together so that they may provide consumers greater benefits as one credit union, but a lot of it is because of how increasingly difficult it is for smaller credit unions to provide meaningful services and survive in a highly competitive market. “We need to watch out for our peers who are improving the lives of members in niche and rural markets because they are important to the texture of what we do and the credit union movement as a whole,” John says.

According to both John and Mike, the movement is long overdue. They hope others will also see the value in this cause and take action. “The demands of today can make you think only one year, two year, three years out,” John says. “But this is like 10-year, 20-year thinking, and you need that, too. Together, credit unions are thinking about the next generation of credit union leaders, and that’s what the national group is doing. We want to be a part of that, and we hope Partners can help lead by example.”

For more information about the Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union® Awareness Initiative, please visit CUNA.org/awareness.