Is the board of your credit union more comfortable sponsoring a surfing or skateboarding competition, or a golf tournament?
     It’s likely the latter, noted several credit unions from around the world that have been aggressive in reaching out to Generation Y. But credit unions will need to be more comfortable with the former if they have any intentions of penetrating the demographic. Your credit union may want to consider abandoning golf tournament sponsorships to support disc golf or other action sports, credit unions at the World Council of CU’s World Forum here were told.
     Moreover, if you aren’t a socially conscious enterprise, your messages may be texting up the wrong data tree.
     In remarks titled, “Marketing Your Credit Union to a Values-driven Generation,” Matt Visccher, assessment manager of employee development at Canada’s Envision Credit Union, said, “I am Gen Y. Gen Y does not want to be part of any movement their parents founded. Is the message you’re trying to tell us one we care to hear?”
     Vischer, a 2007 WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) scholarship winner, shared the stage with fellow winner Stacey Walker, a director for XCEL Credit Union in California, and Harry Zaphir, deputy chairman for Australia’s Queenslander Credit Union. Through credit union examples and specific directions, the trio proved that reaching Gen Yers requires a new type of value proposition and distribution methodologies, new marketing strategies with which many credit unions still may be unfamiliar.
     The group agreed that the greatest hurdle in reaching out to Gen Yers is communication. Old media and methodologies have fallen away in favor of blogs, Internet sites such as Facebook and podcasts, the new source of “news” for young consumers.
     â€œThe 20-somethings face a barrage of advertising and marketing, and we’re skeptical and distrustful of it,” Visccher explained. “The key is the ability to sell Gen Y their own vision if you want to get them in the door. The best way is still word of mouth.”
     Relevance remains the key to reaching the younger audience, panelists said. That can be communicated by Gen Yers on the credit union’s staff who understand the advantages of the institutions in ways relevant to that generation’s social needs. Part of that relevance revolves around social consciousness, a characteristic that Gen Yers appear to have in greater abundance than previous generations, Visccher said. But be careful how those messages are delivered, he added.
     â€œThere is nothing more dangerous than having a 40-or 50-year-old try to tell a 20-something what’s cool,” Visccher added.
     Social consciousness, coupled with environmental awareness, blended with good rates and superior service, can help build membership among the younger generation. But the language and delivery media has to be appropriate in order to succeed, Visccher said.
     â€œGen Y is not going to come looking for you,” Visccher explained. “You have to connect with them at their level.”
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