ACRE – Agri Credit

ACRE – Agri Credit for Rural Development

New Agri Loan Campaign

The overall objective of this campaign was to increase market share of the Agri lending market, in the Bandon area. Previous to the merger of Bandon Credit Union with Skibbereen Credit Union, Bandon did not offer farm loans and we now saw an opportunity to increase market share in this very fertile farming region.
Our target amount in lending was two million euros in the first year, about 4% of the total lending requirement of the sector and to achieve this we would advertise across traditional media channels as well online using our website and through social media channels and for the first time a direct marketing channel, in this case, text messaging.

Donal O’Driscoll, CEO Skibbereen & Bandon Credit Union launches ACRE

The credit union has an extensive database of loyal members and I felt we should be reaching out to these people directly. Unfortunately, we don’t have an email for all of our members but we do have a mobile number so, bulk texts should, I felt, be a part of any marketing campaign. Especially now as it has become more challenging to reach your target audience using social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, as both platforms introduced new algorithms in early 2018, limiting users reach.
The decision was made to use bulk messaging and of the twenty-five thousand members, most of whom have signed up to our marketing mandate and live in rural areas.

The following criteria were used to generate a filtered list;

  • Members aged 23 to 65 years
  • Exclude bad debt, rescheduled, deceased and closed accounts.
  • Exclude accounts with arrears.
  • Exclude accounts with current loan balances greater than €42,000.

A total 7,801 names and mobile numbers were compiled.
Being a credit union, our member’s privacy is paramount, so we engaged Progress Systems Limited a credit union, banking software provider and our current supplier of these services to deploy the text message.
We were pleased that 96% of recipients opened the text message within three minutes of receiving it and we saw a spike of activity on the ACRE webpage that day.

Visual Map of the Activity

Mind Map 

Learnings

Having a database is so valuable as you have control as to when and how many see your message, I think you can no longer rely on social media alone to reach your target audience.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has added a layer of complexity since it was introduced on the 25 of May last. This new regulation has required any business using its customer’s data to be much more responsible and careful and I feel overall it’s probably good for consumers and companies alike, but time will tell.
In terms of direct marketing, I’m convinced that SMS messaging is one of the most effective methods of reaching your target audience, it seems that everyone has a mobile phone these days, the results are measurable and it’s relatively cheap. On the downside you are limited to 160 characters, so your message needs to be concise. I feel that the credit unions need to update its database to include emails and then we will have a second channel available for our next direct marketing campaign.

In Retrospect

In retrospect, I now understand that the above activity was a weak choice for this assignment. A straightforward, direct marketing campaign clearly didn’t test the limit of my capabilities. But to be fair, while putting the plan of activities together last March, I think I was a little overwhelmed with getting up to speed with the Masters. I may not have fully grasped the that this assignment was designed to challenge us and put our knowledge to the test and help us grow as professionals. As I now reflect, I understand my shortfall but overall I’m happy with my progress in the Masters so far and hopefully, this will be apparent in my overall standard of work.
I remember one class in particular in this module when our lecturer suggested that we should: ” begin to recognise the things that you find easy.” This struck a chord with me, if I found something easy it should count as a skill and for the first time, I began to recognise the skills that I have, that maybe I had previously overlooked or discounted. I can now see that I managed to grow and adapt over the years and continue to do so now through the Masters.