Charting the ROI on Good Vibes (and Ugly Cars) … The I Love My Hoopty Campaign

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For those credit unions that have chosen not to participate in Social Media, it seems that there’s a very natural and understandable tension at work: in a world where marketing campaigns are measured in terms of loans made and assets grown (ROI), how can you concretely measure the value of a blog?   

In pondering this question, I called up Marketing Diva Deb McLean of Carolina Postal Credit Union. CPCU of course originated the “I Love My Hoopty” campaign last year.

Deb describes the Hoopty campaign as, “An untraditional marketing campaign with a Social Media component.” It’s untraditional in that it spotlighted a product that most marketers would not conceive of focusing on (unsecured loans made so that postal employees can purchase beat up used cars for their rural letter-carrying routes).

And while the I Love My Hoopty blog has gotten a lot of attention in the blogosphere as well as the CU trade press, the truth is a lot of traditional marketing collateral (posters, mailers, bumper stickers, etc.) keyed the measurable success of the Hoopty campaign. Deb noted that unsecured loans and installment lines of credit increased a robust 325% during the Hoopty campaign last Fall – the ROI was even greater if you factor in cross-selling of other products. 

It could be argued that the blog had little tangible impact on the bottom-line ROI, but that would be selling the Social Media aspect short. In a traditional marketing campaign, something like Hoopty could have come and gone pretty quickly.

But the blog keeps the conversation going. It serves as a 24/7 reminder of a funny campaign that is relevant to the CPCU membership. The credit union has gotten so much positive feedback from members, they’ve begun to incorporate Hoopty into their membership pitch to postal employees. They’re also mulling ways to bring the Hoopty contest back later this year.

The blog also helped the credit union gain a lot of attention outside the membership. Deb attributes much of the CU Trade press attention to the blog. The I Love My Hoopty site also got noticed by a Miami rapper, and got CPCU interviewed by an intrepid reporter from the UK who stumbled across the blog.

So what does this all mean? Deb made three points that may be of use to credit unions contemplating a dip in the Social Media pool …

  1. Whatever you come up with has to be relevant to the lives of your members. “Face it, most people go on the Internet to look at funny videos and dirty pictures*,” Deb noted. “If you do a blog about your “free” checking account, or blog on the acute differences between secured & unsecured loans, no one is going to care … or comment.”  (*Ummm, OK Deb.)  🙂  
  2. Avoid “clusterhugging**.” We credit union types tend to be cooperative, supportive types — so it’s sometimes hard to get direct feedback from peers that you can really use in the development of effective campaigns.  In other words, you & your CU Peers are aware of your campaign – but what about your target-market?” **Note: “cluster-hugging” has been copy-righted by Diva Deb – no lifting/ripping/or borrowing without credit (or cash)!
  3. Make sure the campaign does what it’s supposed to do.  “If it’s about opening new checking accounts – did that happen?  If it’s about adding new members – did that happen?”  Don’t get so “caught up in your own performance” (as Deb relates that Paula Abdul said in a rare lucid moment) and forget your intent was to reach your target-market and impact the bottom-line.

 Of course, Hoopty won’t work everywhere and for just any credit union. But if you’re wondering how to leap into the Social Media waters, consider the key lesson of I Love My Hoopty: CPCU combined ugly cars with financial services, and struck a chord with its membership in the process.     

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8 Responses

  1. Been reading for a while now. Just wanted to say good job.

    Chris Tackett

  2. Great post. In a way, I sell a product over here at NAFCU. How many members use my services? How many call us? Since I started blogging on compliance, more and more members have been contacting us. But I think Ms. McClean is right – you have to give consumers something they want or need. That’s where it gets tough – how does a credit union put content on the web that members will go to every single day and find value – something that will bring them back? That’s the million dollar question.

  3. Nice write-up with good stuff. Offline/traditional media. Measurement/ROI. Self-reinforcing feedback loop.

  4. I’ll tell you what I love about the Hoopty campaign! It’s genuis in that they didn’t have to create a new product, processes or forms. It’s a repackage of existing loan products with an attention getting new twist. That’s the thing I’ve taken away from this! Take what you have, and put a fun, attention grabbing new twist on it and you’ve got GOLD!

  5. CPCU definitely has a very creative program with this one. The I Love My Hoopty campaign succeeded in grabbing peoples attention, getting them engaged, and offering content that was humorous and also dedicated to a good cause as well.

    I wish we could see what the ROI would have been if the campaign had used traditional media only, just to see the comparison.

  6. @Chris – thanks for reading, and saying hi. 🙂

    @Anthony – it is amazing how a blog can open up doors you did not even know existed. When we created the Team Little Guy blog last year, our primary message target was credit unions in both Carolinas. Imagine our surprise when we got to the Blue Ridge Relay Race and people at the race started asking us about Team Little Guy and complimented the blog. It was a great conversation starter that allowed us to talk about the Little Guy and credit unions – and it was 100% due to the blog.

    @Jeffry – thanks! Deb does a great job of tracking campaigns (and designing campaigns that members find interesting).

    @Lori – AMEN! Financial services can be fun – and Hoopty is one sure sign.

    @Andy – That’s the tough part about blogging – it seems hard to measure the direct ROI on them … but I do think that the feedback and resonance, while hard to put in scientific terms, have a definite return. It seems similar to the warm, fuzzy feeling people get with brands they like – is an emotional connection measurable?

  7. I think its definitely hard to measure an emotional connection. I think in a way, return visits, consistent use, and passing the word along are all ways to verify that somebody has some kind of “emotional” attachment to the brand. Not exactly an accurate metric or useful for determining some kind of bottom line, but I think its at least an indicator.

    Of course almost the same thing can be said about the ROI measurements for traditional media. How many of those new accounts were actually opened because of that new direct mail or TV ad? How many of those people would have come into the credit union independent of any advertising?

    I think its really just that people have gotten traditional ROI down to something of a science and we are still struggling to quantify something like emotional connection, if it even can be.

    On a side note, I saw the “I Love My Hoopty” rap/video on an Internet Hip-Hop channel (was using http://www.tvu.com) last night.

  8. sorry, wrong link to the internet TV program, it is actually http://www.tvunetworks.com/

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