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Boost Branch Business

April 2014 – Vol: 37 No. 4
by Dianne Molvig

SunWest FCU adds members, loans with exterior digital sign on busy Phoenix street

April 21, 2014

SunWest FCU’s exterior digital signEditor’s Note: This is Web-only bonus coverage from “Digital Signage Engages Viewers” in the May 2014 issue of CU Management.

Digital signage in your lobby is targeted to your current members. Digital signage outside your building speaks to the people who drive, bus or bike by each day. The focus of exterior digital signage is “to get people in your door,” says Heath Rasche, sales manager for Daktronics, Brookings, S.D.

That was the purpose behind the decision to install an exterior digital sign at $270 million/43,000-member SunWest Federal Credit Union four years ago. The sign stands outside a branch located on a busy downtown Phoenix street.

“We wanted to increase the visibility of that branch, even though it had been there for 40 years,” says CUES member Brian Gorman, VP/chief information officer. “We saw an opportunity to create a presence with the thousands of people who drive by that location every single day.”

The sign has produced results, he reports. The branch immediately saw a 20 percent boost in business. “And we’ve maintained that since the day we put up the sign,” he adds. Since then, SunWest FCU has installed outdoor digital signage at two more branches, on less busy streets, where the business lift has ranged from 10 percent to 15 percent.

Gorman points to the example of one man who’d worked in downtown Phoenix for decades and had never noticed SunWest CU’s downtown office. One day he drove by, noticed the sign bearing an auto loan promotion message, and eventually stopped in and joined.

Such incidents were common after the sign went up, Gorman says. “We opened many, many new accounts,” he says, “and provided additional services to people who were eligible for our membership.”

Brevity Is Key

The signs at SunWest FCU’s branches are monument signs—that is, large signs permanently affixed to the ground. The downtown office’s sign measures about 20 feet high by 12 feet wide, and a third of the surface area is taken up by a digital display, on both the front and back of the sign.

Messages displayed on the digital board at that location must rotate no more frequently than every eight seconds, according to city ordinance. The messages range from something as simple as “Happy Holidays” to an announcement about a credit union-sponsored community event or a current loan promotion.

Flexibility is a major advantage. Messages can be changed quickly and easily from a remote location. “Typically on a digital sign,” Rasche says, “you’ll run from three to five different messages” at a given time.

Those messages must be brief. You have only a few seconds to get your message across to people driving by. “Exterior signage is different from interior,” Rasche says. “Messages have to be quicker and more concise.”

A pitfall with exterior digital signage is the temptation to do too much, he adds. “People think that because it’s digital and so easy,” he says, “they can throw 50 different messages up there.”

But, if you post too many messages, you won’t get optimum viewing of each one, and you’ll fail to repeat a message often enough to stick with viewers. Repetition is, after all, one of the key rules of marketing, especially for financial products and services. People tend to need more time to think over such major decisions, so they need multiple reminders.

The exterior monument signs at SunWest FCU came at significant cost—Gorman prefers not to quote a figure—with a major portion of the price tag being for the digital parts of the signs. He says the investment was worthwhile. “We feel the signs have worked out even better than we had hoped for,” he says.

Dianne Molvig is a freelance writer based in Madison, Wis.

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