101 Fun Marketing Ideas for Banks & Credit Unions

76. Make your headlines funny.

Every headline on every marketing piece your organization creates is an opportunity to express your fun personality.

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77. Wrap your vehicles in graphics.

A key part of making banking fun is to make yourself look as unbanklike as possible. Stuffy bankers drive Cadillacs. Fun banks drive something interesting and unexpected, then wrap them in cool, festive graphics.

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78. Custom website backgrounds.

A few financial institutions let visitors to their websites pick custom background images. Salem Five Bank gives users 32 different photos to choose from — all equally stunning. Some financial institutions solicit images from their customers.

79. Dorm room makeover contest.

How can banks and credit unions push checking accounts and other financial products on college kids who have other priorities? How about a $5,000 dream dorm room makeover? What college-age student doesn’t want that? Everyone can remember the first time they laid eyes on campus housing. They are dull, lifeless, functional spaces painted an antiseptic shade of white. Bor-ring!

80. Movie night in branches.

There are quite a few financial institutions that have designed their branches to double as community meeting spaces. Yes, they can use the space to host financial education seminars, but that’s predictable — not fun either. Umpqua is one bank that uses branches for family movie nights. They show age-appropriate films for kids who wear pajamas while eating up the bank’s popcorn and other treats.

81. Tie a banker to a light pole.

A bank in Australia duct-taped one of their own bankers to a light pole in a busy town square. As passersby asked the hapless banker if he needed help, he’d say that someone was “already on the way,” then explain that he had been kidnapped by a rival bank who left him stranded up on the pole as retaliation for having such amazing rates and service. “We’ve had so many good things happen this past year, that the other banks… well, it’s just plain jealousy.”
It’s a lighthearted, playful, unexpected and fairly inexpensive gag — another fantastic PR opportunities.

82. Hold a TV commercial contest.

Invite the general public to film commercials for your organization and/or its products. Give aspiring filmmakers video clips and other visual resources they can incorporate into their productions. Prizes can include things like video cameras, TVs, and trips to Hollywood.

83. Name the branch promotion.

If you build a new branch location, why not let your customers (or members) suggest names for it? You can award prizes for the best suggestions.

84. Fight the zombie menace.

Michigan Community Credit Union uses the undead to revive consumer interest in auto loans. They have a massive multi-channel engagement campaign that includes a lead-generating microsite, lookoutforzombies.com. The highlight of the campaign is a crazy “choose-your-own-adventure” style interactive YouTube video that allows users to select different scenarios. It’s really well done and lots of fun. You can buy the whole campaign from the folks at CU*Grow for few thousand bucks.

85. Pull an April Fools prank.

Pulling a good April Fools prank is tough. You can walk a fine line between a good ruse and something that pisses people off. It’s best to poke fun at yourself — create a fake product, or make up a phony funny milestone. The best April Fools gimmicks are just plausible enough to rope people in. You can find some excellent examples here.
http://www.brandingmagazine.com/2013/04/02/brands-on-april-fools-day-2013/

86. Make your employee intranet fun.

Delta Community Credit Union’s creative and branded employee intranet is affectionately named “Simon.” Simon is the portal for all employee communications — the guy who knows what’s going on inside the credit union. Employees can access a calendar of events, employee birthdays, HR suggestion box, training information, games, project fact sheets, timesheets, updates on charitable fundraising activities, HR policies and procedures, and more. But Simon is more than just an intranet. He is a full-fledged internal spokesman and mascot, complete with a costume and foam head.

87. Giant corn maze.

O Bee Credit Union partnered with a local newspaper and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions to create a massive, 6-acre financial education maze made from corn. The credit union’s name, “O BEE,” was the centerpiece of “The Amazing Money Maze.”

88. Put people on billboards.

Nothing makes a billboard more noticeable or memorable than when a real person is on it, like the ads below for ING Italy (below). One slant on the human billboard concept is to put a person up until a certain goal or milestone is achieved — e.g., until a certain sized charitable donation is reached, or until you hit $10 million in new home loans. If it isn’t feasible to put a real person on a billboard, think about how you could use a mannequin, like the First Community rebranding billboard (bottom).
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89. Hurl some tomatoes.

For a 24-hour period, Heritage ran a live, interactive “takeover” banner ad. When a visitor clicked on the banner, they were prompted to enter their name, suburb and answer this question: “Do you love your big bank?” Their answer choices were “yes,” “no” and “when pigs fly.” Once the information was supplied, they were routed to a live broadcast studio and introduced to “Heritage Man,” the on-going star of Heritage’s TV commercials. Behind him were three targets on a wall with the answer choices: Yes, No and When Pigs Fly. Heritage Man would greet them by name, engage in some light-hearted banter, then hurl a tomato at the appropriate target.

90. Build a parade float.

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91. Hold a financial fitness challenge.

First Tech Credit Union selected households to compete for a $10,000 grand prize. The prize went to the household that achieved the most financial success in four pre-determined categories: debt reduction, increase in savings, increase in overall net worth, and overall level of participation in the program.

92. Buy a blimp.

We’re not talking about buying a Goodyear-sized blimp. We’re talking about something much more modest — in the 10-foot range. You can use these blimps at various community and sporting events to drop prizes on people. Sunova Credit Union and a bank in Eastern Europe have both used remote controlled airships to bomb consumers with gifts.

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Garanti Bank in Turkey used a remote-controlled hot air balloon and a small, one-person glider to air drop gifts on citizens. The packages contained a small stuffed animal attached to a small branded parachute.

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93. March Madness.

America goes bananas for the NCAA basketball championships. It’s okay to use the idea of “March Madness” — using plays-on-words and the concept of brackets — just don’t use the actual trademarked term “March Madness” or you’ll find yourself in deep legal doo doo. 66 FCU held a “Battle of the Brackets” promotion built around a standard “pick-your-teams” contest. Grand prize: a 60” HDTV.

94. A cage for video game duels.

In 2009, Guitar Hero was all the rage. One credit union targeting college students took a step van and converted it into a two-player mobile video game arcade — see-through, with windows on three sides — a Guitar Hero fighting cage. The credit union took the truck to events thick with college kids — concerts, campus events, etc. — where staffers would hand out frisbees, t-shirts and other fare with soft promotional value.

95. Name the goldfish promotion.

You could put a goldfish in every branch and let your patrons submit suggestions for its name. Of you could do an online version on Facebook where you post a photo of a fat cat and have a “Name the Fat Cat Banker” contest. Everyone loves making fun of fat cat bankers.

96. Have crazy or unusual job titles.

Connex Credit Union created a new position called the Vice President of Unbanking. What can you come up with?

97. Be courageous.

You aren’t going to have any real fun at your financial institution if you aren’t willing to take some chances. The best brands are built by those who are brave enough to do something new and different. Just accept that everything you try won’t always work out the way you (or your CEO) hoped.

98. Celebrate with staff.

Throw an employee party when you hit major milestones — reaching $1 billion in assets for instance, completing a core conversion, launching a new product, attaining 50,000 mobile banking app downloads, your 10 millionth pageview on your website, etc. This makes the internal work atmosphere more enjoyable while also connoting to employees that the organization is strong, vital and “going places.”

99. Make financial education fun for kids.

Derived from ING Direct’s “Orange” brand, Planet Orange provides learning activities and games designed to teach kids (grades one to six) financial responsibility. Although not quite as entertaining as Spongebob or Ben 10, Planet Orange nevertheless succeeds in delivering much-needed financial literacy in an interesting package — suitable for today’s media-saturated kids.

100. Ask consumers, “How would you make banking fun?”

Once people have a feel for how much you like having fun, open it up to them. Ask folks what ideas they have for making banking a more fun, less sucky experience.

101. Keep reading The Financial Brand.

If you want a steady stream of fresh and original ideas that bring a little levity to banking services, there’s no better source than The Financial Brand. We publish over 500 articles every year, recapping the most interesting, unusual and unique promotions in the financial sector. Subscribe to the email newsletter and get new ideas delivered straight to your inbox every week.

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