At one time, the most popular and well-known sweepstakes in the US were offered by Publisher's Clearing House and Reader's Digest. Nowadays, many companies and institutions, including credit unions, use this promotional tool as a way to incent consumers and/or generate interest and enthusiasm about products and services. Over the last several years, sweepstake popularity has grown even more among financial institutions as a way of driving traffic to social media pages and dedicated websites.
Credit unions, in particular, have been increasingly using sweepstakes for a number of purposes from educating the public on credit unions in general to building relationships with existing and prospective members to advertising community events and even celebrating milestones like anniversaries. Whatever the purpose, sweepstakes help to promote credit unions while awarding lucky participants.
In true credit union spirit, credit union marketing teams maintain a “member first” outlook when developing sweepstake offers. While they hope to help grow their individual memberships or promote their products and services, they are also working to spread the message of overall credit union movement and bring to light the advantages of credit union membership. Sweepstakes are a fun and attractive way to accomplish all of these goals.
As an existing or prospective credit union member, keep in mind that no credit union will ever require you to make any type of purchase in order to take part in their sweepstakes or other similar raffle-style contests. In fact, credit union sweepstakes are meant to draw consumers to credit unions as a way to ultimately help achieve financial well-being and literacy.
According to Mike Dilworth, Senior VP of Marketing at Freedom Federal Credit Union (Bel Air, MD), his credit union has done a number of sweepstakes over time, always opening up any drawing to the public in accordance with Maryland state lottery law. Recent Freedom Federal offers included:
“Our current drawing for an iPad is on Facebook for people who ‘Like’ us and also give an example of what they’d do with a special 12-12-12 loan,” explains Dilworth.
Freedom Federal’s sweepstakes are promoted via email, online, on branch lobby posters and banners, buck slips, direct mail limited to the branch grand opening for that particular contest, and on the credit union’s web site. “The results have varied -- the most successful was an email to our members asking for input on a survey about our web site that brought in over 450 responses,” says Dilworth. While the product incentives have been less popular, and the social media promo is still underway, the branch grand prize contest had a good showing bringing in several hundred responses.
Dilworth feels that sweepstake offers touting more substantial prizes seem to do better. “A co-op sweepstakes, where many credit unions can get together to offer a very large incentive or prize, say a $100,000 award, is definitely worth considering.”
Fibre Federal Credit Union (Longview, WA) is celebrating their 75th Anniversary this year and will be giving away $7,500 to one lucky member. According to Lesley Carroll, SVP of Marketing, members will be automatically entered into the sweepstakes during 2012 when they do any of the following: take out an auto loan of $7,500 or more, open a new checking account, sign up for Online Banking, sign up for E-Statements, or sign up for Online Bill pay. They will get one entry for each of these that they do.
Having promoted the anniversary sweepstakes in their newsletter, in all of their loan marketing (newspaper, radio), on their website and billboard, on Facebook, and on their special 75th Anniversary Website, the credit union has seen increases across the board in all of the qualifying services.
With loan growth for the first time in two years, in part due to the sweepstakes, Carroll sees it as a very successful marketing tool. “Our Anniversary Sweepstake has definitely garnered attention in our community -- it is proving to be a very cost effective way to increase sales of loans, checking accounts and online services.”
Consumers Credit Union (Kalamazoo, MI) is currently running a sweepstakes offer in honor of Grand Openings at two of their new offices. In an effort to bring some fun and action to these latest locations, members can enter at any branch or send in a postcard for a chance to win one of two 51" HDTVs.
According to Lynne J. Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer, the credit union is promoting their grand opening offer through social media, blogging, direct mail, and word of mouth. “We believe it will bring non-members in through the door, which is one of the goals, but our main goal is to generate excitement surrounding the openings -- we consider giveaways and sweepstakes more as celebrations and ways to give back to our members.”
Looking to play the odds and win big with a special offer from your credit union? Find out what sweepstakes they’re running by checking out their newsletter, website, and social media channels. Not a member? Find a credit union and join today!By Cyndi Cohen