Socially-Distanced Marketing, Strategy, and The Force

Tag: gen z (Page 1 of 2)

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.

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

It’s A Party, But Who’s Invited?

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Is your social media presence harming your image? More at 11.

Oh yes, folks. We’re talking social media. Again. In more than 140 characters. That’s a Twitter reference for those of you preferring to communicate in more traditional methods. A practice which, sadly, appears to be gaining more aspects of “web-speak” every day. No I will not abandon my capitalized letters and appropriate use of a semicolon!

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, social media and its potential impacts on your credit union.

When it comes to communicating with your members on account information, what’s your preferred method? Phone, in-person, e-mail, or traditional mail? Like Luke in Return of the Jedi, you may not be aware that…”there is another (Skywalker).” Social media can be an alternative for those who prefer it. I’m not suggesting you handle money transfers and loan applications through Twitter (yet, seriously), but there are a number of markets taking advantage of the technology. One which has done an incredible job is the airline industry. Consider this: I was on a JetBlue flight with WiFi and tweeted that my seat’s headphone jack didn’t work. As a result, I could not watch the in-flight TV or listen to SiriusXM. Within a minute, their official support account answered me and asked to continue the conversation in a DM (Direct Message: a private chat, similar to a text message). I obliged and was then prompted by the agent to provide my name and confirmation number. After a few minute exchange (while still sitting in the seat, mind you), they issued a courtesy credit for the inconvenience on my account. Resolved at 35,000 feet.

Another time, and this one pains me to admit, I had issues with my Comcast internet service. I tweeted as such, @ mentioning Comcast (using LTE mobile data when needed). Within a matter of minutes, an agent from their official support account got in touch. They too DMed me requesting my account #. “Woah!” you say. Yes, they deem the Direct Message feature of Twitter to be secure enough to transfer most customer information (most social media platforms also use a Verified Account badge to ensure you’re communicating with the “real thing”). After a few messages back and forth, they identified the issue and resolved it. Do you realize what that meant? I didn’t have to be on the phone with them at all!

I enjoy reading tweets from many credit unions. If you’re one of them, congratulations for sharing valuable information with your members and the world at large. If you haven’t yet joined, that’s ok. You’re not alone. And when you’re ready, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to go at it in the best way possible!

But as much as it can help your institution, there are risks involved. We’re not talking poor underwriting standards causing an implosion of your debt ratios. We’re talking something far more important…your image (social media is much like Hollywood in that respect). Whether you decide to go in-house or a 3rd-party, the rules are the same. Most of the best practices involve just being rational. Don’t share private member information, don’t post things which can be interpreted as insulting, etc. If you wouldn’t send it to your mom, don’t hit Tweet.

Of course, there’s always the risk at being caught up in something which has errors you missed. For example, a few weeks ago, a tweet was shared by Co-Op Credit Unions (@innovatebanking) discussing strategies to increase your savings. Seems to fit, right? Unfortunately, their tweet (since corrected) read, “How to save $100,000 in a year. (link to article)” Wow! I need to know this…now! Not surprisingly, the post was incorrect. Rather, the link described ways the average American can save $10,000 in a year. “What’s an extra 0?” As a financial institution, you should know the answer to that question…a mistake you cannot make. The craziest part? This tweet has 18 retweets (users who shared it to their followers) and 14 likes, yet my reply was the only one calling out the error. Please never be “that guy (or gal)” who retweets or likes something with such blatant errors! It can tarnish your own brand. How? Consider it from your member’s perspective: “How can I believe the claims my credit union makes when they didn’t even bother to check an obvious number error in something they shared, ie. represented as their own?

UPDATE: Co-Op Credit Unions has issued a corrected tweet, fixing the typo. And this is what makes all the difference, because…Generation Z (your youngest and future members) see social media as a way of getting information, not just a tool to communicate with friends. If your information is wrong, how will they regard your ability to help their financial situation?

UPDATE 2: It happened again. During today’s #NCUAChat (great Twitter discussion), the NCUA (under their username @MyCUgov) shared a graphic with 3 tips for financial safety online. A good thing. Except their graphic was so riddled with typos, spelling errors, and bad information that it could be deemed more harmful than good. Unless they were aiming to be ironic – “See, this is the kind of thing we want members to look out for!” Though government agencies aren’t often ironic. And, surprise! Many wonderful people and groups shared it to their own followers. Did anyone read it first? (Probably not…a previous post discusses how liking or sharing something means you’re less likely to read it) Once again, don’t be those people! Share with care!

So, a review:

  • Social media is now being used as an effective customer support tool for industries with some of the poorest records in the category. Yet they make it work. How is your credit union embracing this new opportunity? Perhaps a mention of the strategy during longer hold times or on your support/contact page. What do you need to do to balance security requirements with member convenience?
  • A new outreach venue offers massive opportunities, but can also hide unique risks. Is your in-house or outsourced team on the same page, aware of credit union strategy (yes, include them in your planning meetings)? Are they trained to catch typos and other errors, politely pointing them out or editing after discovered?

Your social media feed is unlikely to be featured on the 11 o’clock news, but, if it is (congratulations to your marketing team), make sure it’s for the reasons you want!

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