Q&A: Verity Credit Union’s Mommy Blogger

The Financial Brand sat down with Shari Storm, VP/CMO of Verity Credit Union, and Terrell Meek, Verity’s Marketing Manager, to talk about their latest online social media project, Verity Mom. Verity Credit Union is no stranger to the Web 2.0 world. They are credited with being the first credit union in the U.S. to launch a blog, “Verity Voices.”

Verity Mom puts a mommy twist on the internationally acclaimed Young & Free “challenge marketing” promotion from Currency Marketing. The basic formula in this strategy starts with a huge marketing push to recruit a spokesperson (or “spokester”) who will blog on behalf of the financial institution. An online contest determines the winner of this paid, part-time position. Then over the course of a year, the spokesperson uses online social networking services like blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook to share various perspectives about personal finance issues and the financial institution they represent.

In all the previous deployments of Young & Free, the recruited blogger has been a member of Gen-Y. The use of a mommy blogger represents the first significant variation of Young & Free.

More information is available on the Verity Mom campaign in the project’s Online Media Center, a Fact Sheet and this FAQ.

What’s the strategy behind Verity Mom?

We wanted to launch a program that increases awareness among moms. We also want to use Verity Mom as a vehicle to increase our new member numbers within our community. The account we want to introduce to this market is our Cartwheel Checking (a Rewards Checking product), designed with busy moms in mind.

Verity is phasing out Velocity Checking account, its original high-interest checking option, and is replacing it with Cartwheel Checking, which reduces the maximum balance earning a higher interest rate to $10,000. You can keep as much money as you want in Cartwheel, but only the fist $10,000 get paid the bonus rate. The interest rates on both accounts are the same.

Why moms?

Mothers control 83% of all household spending. Ironically, they have largely been overlooked in the financial industry.

Not only are mothers a powerful market in their own right, they also have tremendous influence on where their kids do their banking. Every financial institution struggles with how to attract younger members. We want to bring in more families into our credit union.

Like most other credit unions, our membership continues to age and we need a blend of members in different stages of their lives in order to balance loan and deposit growth.

Mothers are incredible sources of referrals. We love the quote, “If you can please a mom, you can please anyone.” We want to design products and services that please moms and, in turn, have them tell their networks about us.

Why a blog?

We had been watching the amazing things that Currency Marketing had been doing with Young & Free and we wanted to try something like that. When our board decided that resources were going to be spent reaching the mom market, we approached Tim and his team and asked if we could do a Young & Free, but with moms. And so Verity Mom was born.

verity-mom

VERITYMOM.COM BLOG & MICROSITE

How did you choose Rosemary Garner as your mommy blogger?

“Moms matter!
Verity Credit Union
wants to hear what
moms have to say,
and I’m the voice
to make that happen.”
— Rosemary Garner,
2010 Verity Mom

We used LinkedIn and Craigslist to let people know about the recruitment phase of the project. Rosemary Garner was one of the 34 applicants who submitted an online application — a 60 second video and blog post — in our 2010 Verity Mom contest. Rosemary emerged from our internal judging as one of the top three candidates. After that, she was selected based on votes from website visitors. Thousands of votes were cast.

[Note: For winning the competition and becoming the 2010 Verity Mom, Rosemary gets a $20,000 annual salary, a 13″ Apple MacBook Pro notebook computer and a Flip Mino HD video camera.]

What other components are there beyond the blog?

In addition to the microsite, there is a YouTube account, a Twitter account and a Facebook page, each with content provided by Rosemary.

While Rosemary is a great writer, her talents and experience lie in video. She has been a documentary producer for many years. Video will be the most powerful component of Verity Mom.

Rosemary posted her first video this week. She actually interviewed the lead singer of The Presidents of the United States of America, who is doing a side project on a CD for kids. The video is great and he gave a shout out to Verity. It was really fun.

verity-mom-twitter verity-mom-facebook

SOCIAL MEDIA TOOLS
The Twitter account (left) has 120 followers, and the Facebook page (right) has 23 fans. The five videos uploaded to the YouTube account (below) have been collectively viewed over 2,100 times.

verity-mom-youtube

What are you doing to promote the initiative offline?

While we were running the contest, we placed several ads in local newspapers. We also had branch signage and floor decals. We also handed out temporary tattoos all over the place. We were fortunate to get some traditional PR as well. There were a few stories written about the contest in local newspapers, and Rosemary will be attending some community events… perhaps making a TV appearance or two.

verity-mom-tattoos

TEMPORARY PROMOTIONAL TATTOOS

How are you measuring success? What metrics are you using?

We are looking at new member numbers in our communities as the measure of success.

How long do you plan to run the Mommy blog?

Rosemary will be our Verity Mom spokesperson for one year. Beyond that, we are taking a wait and see approach.

Shari, can you tell us a little bit about new book, “Motherhood is the New MBA.”

motherhood-mbaThank you for asking. I recently published a book through St. Martin’s Press on how the skills you use as a parent are the same skills you need to manage people. It’s gotten some good press. It’s been in Costco Connection, HybridMom, Body & Soul, BusinessWeek online as well as Martha Stewart’s radio program, to name a few.

It can be purchased at Amazon.com, or you can get a signed copy through Elliott Bay Book Company.

It has been interesting to have this hobby of writing a book for the mom market and having that overlap so much with what we are doing at my credit union.

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