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Mobile App Delivers Big Savings for CU Marketer on 1,500-Mile Road Trip
Friday, December 16, 2016 6:35 AM

If you're responsible for marketing a new service to your members, you want to know firsthand how it performs. So thought Susan Lightner, marketing director at South Texas Federal Credit Union, prior to launching Catalyst Corporate's Checking with Benefits mobile rewards app, called BaZing.

Along with other benefits, the app offers discounts at more than 360,000 retailers nationwide. So, Lightner decided to test its savings power on a 1,500-mile road trip from McAllen, Texas, to Wilmington, N.C.

"I started by getting my car road ready," Lightner explained. "My first purchase was from a local Goodyear store, where I bought four new tires and saved $53 with the BaZing app. After I got my tires, I used the app to find a discounted oil change."

Lightner, who was traveling cross-country with her two daughters and her nephew, used the BaZing app all along the way. The group took advantage of "Buy 1, Get 1 Free" dining offers and discounts on lodging and attractions. The total payoff?

"BaZing saved us $353.20, and we had no trouble with merchants honoring the discounts," Lightner said. "The app is easy to use. Deals found us. Notifications of nearby discounts showed up on my Apple Watch as I was driving down the road."

Fortunately, Lightner said, she did not have reason to try out other BaZing benefits, such as cell phone protection, roadside assistance, or identity theft protection.

"Those benefits alone make Checking with Benefits a great value for members," she said. "It's not uncommon to pay $40-$45 per month for the three coverages. But for only $5 per month with the BaZing app, you can get all of them and the retail discounts for everyone in your household.

South Texas Federal Credit Union's goals in launching the Checking with Benefits program six months ago, according to Lightner, were to bring benefits to members, generate member-friendly revenue for the credit union, and build small business relationships.

Convinced from her road trip experience that the app would bring benefits to members, Lightner set her sights on building business for the credit union.

She used BaZing's "recommend a merchant" feature to encourage more local merchants to join the network at no charge. "Of course, I contacted the merchants I wanted, such as the birthday party inflatables company, and brought them on board," Lightner said.

As members began using the app around the community, Lightner actually had merchants approach the credit union to have their businesses included in the app. As any true marketer would, Lightner parlayed the request into opportunity, agreeing to add the merchant if they permitted the credit union to give a five-minute presentation to the business' employees.

"My presentation," Lightner said, "focused on financial literacy, not products, and the credit union not-for-profit difference. That difference, I explained, allows credit unions to offer lower rates on loans. I took along a member service representative with an iPad, who could complete membership and loan applications on site.

"As a result of one presentation," Lightner said, "loan volume at the branch increased $327,000 over the previous month. In the first three weeks of this month, loan volume has already increased another $100,000 over last month." Forty percent of the new loan applications came from the community where the presentation was made.

Lightner cited another example in which the BaZing app helped the local high school. Its football coach, a credit union member, commented that he wished the games had larger attendance. Lightner suggested using the BaZing app to solve the problem with "Buy 1, Get 1 Free" admission to the games. The partnership earned Lightner another opportunity to talk about the credit union, this time at the high school's employee staff meeting.

"The app has been a great way to deliver value to members and get in the door around the community," Lightner said. "Credit unions can use this app not only to build member loyalty, but also to strengthen the credit union's financial profile. It's a win for the credit union, for the members and for the community."

Find out more about Catalyst Corporate's Checking with Benefits program and the BaZing mobile app at contactus@catalystcorp.org or 800-442-5763, option 5.