Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: baby boomers (page 1 of 3)

Want Your Marketing to Connect? Ask the Women!

For decades, the question was, “how do we market to the younger generations?” In the 90s, it was Gen X. 2000s? New Gen Ys look like they will want everything different. In fact, they’re so different, we can’t even use the same naming scheme.

We’ll call them Millennials. Yes, that feels good. Because they’re unique. And lived through the dastardly Y2K. #ISurvivedY2K

Turns out, Millennials were different. We grew up amidst both massive growth and enormous economic failures. Basically, there’s a lot working against us. I definitely don’t have time to go through them all.

And that’s fine, because there’s a new generation.

Gen Z. Ooooh. Young and spunky, but jaded like no other. For some reason, with these guys, we’re fine resuming the old naming convention. Finish the alphabet strong, right?

What makes Gen Z stand out? I yeet that question. Forget Millennials “destroying industries”…this generation will finish them all.

Connecting with Generations

There’s truth to every one of these analyses. People of different generations do exhibit unique qualities. And what engages a Gen X may not interest a Gen Z. Not to mention you can’t use the same platforms, because they’re just not there.

Yet this is all missing a bigger point. It’s about the generations, sure, but it’s about something even more basic. It’s about clarity, transparency, openness, warmth. I’m talking marketing to men and marketing to women.

Women Make Money Decisions

Ever wonder why home improvement marketing targets those handy men (and some women), yet home buying targets couples? It’s not only because, “this is a big decision we should make together.” It’s because the latter gets it. They know the women overwhelmingly make the purchasing decisions.

Young Couple with Dog

It’s not just me saying it. Women make the vast majority of purchasing decisions, no matter who works (or if it’s a multiple income household). In every marketing aspect, the biggest differentiator is gender.

So if women make the decisions, no matter their age, why are we putting so much focus on the generational trends? Look, I’m guilty of it as well, though my advice tended to be, “connect where and how people are, in an honest and transparent way.”

Let’s look at a recent rebrand from a company you may recognize (Disclosure: My company works with them).

TrueCar: A “Radikal” Rebrand

TrueCar doesn’t sell cars. However, they are the top rated site for people to find and get a guaranteed price on a nearby car. So they’re a big part of the car-buying process.

And, frankly, car buying sucks. Unless you’re buying a Tesla, you have the whole dealer thing to navigate. I’ve bought Mazdas for many years, from the same dealer and salesperson, and still, I don’t like the system.

Let’s be honest. Have you, or someone you knew, ever said, “by golly, I’m just super stoked about my car dealer! They’re the real cat’s meow!” That’s how people talk, right? Sounds fine to me.

The team at TrueCar hadn’t heard those comments, either. Yet their business depends on people going through that process. How do you encourage more people to do something we all know is, at best, meh?

They focused on the buyer. The real buyer. Women.

What do they want? Like the generation question, they want the same thing: Openness, clarity, honesty, warmth, connection. Every design and process change TrueCar made aims to achieve those ends.

Woman on Laptop

In their surveys, the new design language out-tested every other brand in likability by women. They’re featured in the animations, because apparently TrueCar also has this strange perception that women…exist.

So do you design for women only and exclude everyone else? I mean, you could, and you’d probably be fine, as long as you avoid “For Her” Bic pens (Definitely check out the “reviews”). It’s not like they’re half the population or anything.

I’m a guy and I love the new design. The old one wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t anything special. It told what they did in a traditional “trust-building and calming” blue tone. True was bold and caps because it is about being true to all parties.

The new one keeps that messaging and makes it about you. Because buying a car is personal. And that the decision-process can be fun…especially if it’s easy to do.

Doesn’t that make you want to at least look for a new car?

Generational Marketing is So Last Generation

So we’re done with generational marketing? Yes. And no. Because generational understanding still gives you valuable insights. It’s just not the complete story.

For example, a Boomer is less likely to be on Snapchat. So if you’re trying to promote products that fit their needs, it’s a silly place to market. Use age-specific demographics and include in your social strategy.

On the other side, a piece of education or product that works for a range of ages should be tailored to women. Because that’s your common factor. 25 and 65-year old women both fit a demographic.

Woman at Dual-Screen Computer

And why tailor to women rather than men? Because, once again, women make the buying decisions. Convincing men a certain razor is better might make them buy it.

More likely, the marketing will inspire them to ask their wife to buy it (or she’ll notice and get it on her own). And we’re not even talking about same-sex or cohabitation living arrangements.

Marketing At Your Credit Union

How does this relate to your credit union’s marketing and outreach strategies? It means going back to your mission. Again.

Take a look at your About Us or Why We Exist page. What does it present?

Circle of Hands and Feet

Most likely, it teaches you about a destination that people trust and rely upon for:

  • Sound financial advice
  • Tools to help simplify a variety of life stages
  • Efforts to boost the economic well-being of members

That sure sounds like stuff you’d want to present to the financial decision-maker of a household. Which means, your message is already solid. The change needs to come in how you convey it.

Take a look at what TrueCar did. Then look at Airbnb. Even Bank of America. What do they all have in common? Authenticity. Personality. Experience.

You don’t have to do a full rebrand to reap the benefits of this focus. Of course, when you do that, make sure it resonates!

Your goal, as you’ve read from me for years, is what it’s always been: Aim to best fulfill your mission. And communicating that in a way others grasp is a win for everyone.

So, women, what do you want? Because that’s your best marketing question to ask now.

This ICU Day, Let’s Aim for Engagement!

I’m a huge fan of the credit union mission and all it contributes to our communities. You’d know that if you’ve read more than a few lines of any previous post. Of course, you’d also know that I’m not afraid to call out things when they could be improved.

On that note, I have just a few suggestions for this year’s International Credit Union Day campaign. In case you weren’t aware, the theme is, “Find Your Platinum Lining” (at a credit union). Because it’s the 70th anniversary of the event. And 70 means platinum. You knew that, right? I didn’t. Honestly, I thought it was for 75. Turns out that’s diamond (jewelry, to be precise). In fact, all I could find about the 70th anniversary linked it to UK tradition. Thus, Americans will have limited exposure to this “platinum year”. I’d be curious how many people under the age of 70 even make the connection. I asked some people of a variety of ages; none knew that Platinum and 70 went together.

Which raises another point: If our goal is to attract younger members, why use a terminology which they are unlikely to understand or relate? Of course, we’re not only looking to attract younger people, but, let’s be honest, they’re who you want. More Boomers are great, but a member with 50 years of major purchases and life changes ahead of them is substantially more valuable.

Slogan aside, let’s take a look at the unified messaging of the credit union movement (at least here in America). Their newest endeavor is “Open Your Eyes” (to a credit union). It’s a major investment with substantial marketing targeting, ahem, eyesnationwide, from TV to streaming services and even subway banners. Yet it isn’t connected to this ICU Day effort at all. Perhaps it’s not quite ready, because this seems like a missed opportunity.

Another point relating to the Open Your Eyes campaign; a major part was to study what people’s actual reasons for not joining a credit union really were. Turns out, it was two main points:

  1. Thinking you had to be part of a certain company or group.
  2. Concern that you had to leave if you moved, or risk not being able to access your money.

Those are valid concerns which we need to address as an industry. So does the ICU Day campaign do that? Not quite. It reiterates the tired, “we’re different and unique” platform. Great, you give back to your members. You have low rates. Some of the larger banks are already playing the same game. And, frankly, they’re better at it. Capital One just launched a new effort featuring their friendlier branches (“Cafés”), free checking, and other customer-centric offerings, while separating themselves from the “Big Banks”. Never mind they are one; their marketing presents them otherwise. And it is reallygood. Ally takes a similar approach, setting themselves apart from the “Big Bankers” who don’t care about you while making billions off your money.

More than a third of Americans are members of credit unions. Yet they have only 7% market share. That’s an enormous gap. And it won’t be solved by saying how low your rates are or that you give back. It’s providing reassurance that people can join, money can be accessed anywhere, and then empowering each CU to go deep on mission.

The big banks are better at differentiating themselves from “The Big Banks” than credit unions. This ICU Day, let’s open peoples’ eyes to credit unions by showing how they make each community better. And how, if you join (because you can!), you can both reap the benefits and help inspire growth as well.

That’s a platinum lining everyone can enjoy!

Happy International Credit Union Day!

Millennials (And More) In A Time Machine

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Market to Millenials! Market to Gen Z! Are we repeating what has been done time and again?

Snapshots in Time

We tend to look at generations as a snapshot in time. Let me explain: The oldest Gen Z (or whatever we call those youngsters with no knowledge of pre-Internet days) is not more than 20 or so, at the most.

Millenials are in their mid-20s to late-30s.

Gen Xers are what we would call middle age.

Boomers are close to or enjoying retirement (or lifelong work). Their parents are focused on the “golden years”, as we would say.

But what if we looked at them all from the same perspective, at the same point in time for each?

Imagine Your Favorite Time Machine…

Let’s take a Millenial, Gen Z, Boomer, and Gen X and put them in a room together. The catch: They are all 25. Ok, we’ll say the room is bigger on the inside to address any temporal crises this may cause.

So, we have a gathering of identically-aged people, yet they are each from a different generation. The Boomer’s “present” is 1975, the Gen X is living in 1995, our Millenial is from this era, while the Gen Z representative has been plucked from 2025. Once we get over those awesome pants the Boomer is wearing, it’s down to business.

We could imagine asking them the same questions posed in publications today:

  • “What can a financial institution do to appeal to your generation better?”
  • “What are you looking for in a banking experience?”
  • “Does feedback from friends and family influence your decisions, and in what way?”

Distinguish Between Tools and Strategies

Leave the social media, mobile banking, and other technology-based solutions on the table. These are tools, not strategies.

Focus on the responses, the emotional aspect of decision-making. I wouldn’t be surprised if their answers are similar.

Yes, feedback from friends is important (despite needing to actually call, write, or visit for some of our time-travelers). Having a safe and secure experience is essential (whether it be chip cards and a secure mobile app or a branch representative who respects your privacy).

Appealing to all of them would be based in education, convenience, cost, and service. For me, a great customer service experience is #1 when choosing a business. Would anyone argue this has changed?

Whether I’m corresponding by Pony Express or being guided through FaceTime, I expect top-notch service that respects me as a member.

Service is Service is Service

We put a lot of time and effort into learning what it takes to appeal to the latest generation. I agree this is important. However, why reinvent the wheel, so to speak, if this task has been done time and again?

How did you appeal to 25 year-olds 25 years ago? 50? I’d be willing to bet the fundamentals are unchanged. It’s just the means.

Board Meeting Agenda Material!

This sounds like a conversation for your upcoming board meeting. Ask your long-serving members to think back. Dig into the archives and pull up marketing plans from 1975 (or further!). What can you learn from this exercise? Have you been appealing to Millenials all along?

Hey, what’s old is new. NES Classic, Pokemon GO…even Tamagotchi has an app. Take your own old. It may just work great in today’s world.

Image credit: http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/tardis/images/6289809/title/tardis-space-photo

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