Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: millennials (page 1 of 2)

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

Give Your Card A Security Update

Originally published on CUInsight.com

Update 7/12/16: An earlier version of this article claimed Samsung Pay did not use tokenization. They do, my mistake! Corrected. (CUInsight version not updated)

A family friend was in town this past week. She is part of the Boomer generation, so, a user of new tech, but semi-begrudgingly. At one point, we discussed how her Android phone supported mobile payment. “It’s easier and more secure for you!” I explained to her. “You’ll never need to go through the hassle of getting a new card number again!” Her response? “Yeah, still wouldn’t bother. I’d prefer to just swipe.”
This is the type of apathy you’re facing. She didn’t grow up in a world of data security breaches, and considers a reissued credit card “par for the course”. It’s not that she doesn’t believe me when I tell her that mobile payment is vastly better. She just doesn’t care.

Maybe I framed it wrong. As we all have, using terms like tokenization instead of just calling it what it is: A security update for your credit card. So what is tokenization (To-Ken-I-Zeh-Shun)? Besides a big, scary word, of course. It’s always thrown around when mobile payments are discussed, but a recent survey shows understanding is lacking. Nearly a third of people admit to not knowing what it means and almost half say that it wouldn’t encourage them to use mobile payments. My interpretation: That latter group doesn’t grasp what it is either, but are afraid to admit it. So, what is it and why should you care? Tokenization represents how your card number is handled during the transaction. Still fuzzy? That’s ok.

Here’s how a normal purchase works (greatly simplified and leaving out payment processor):

1. Swipe at terminal (or type number on computer).
2. The number on the front of your card goes to the merchant.
3. Merchant asks credit card issuer (your credit union or bank) if the number is good.
4. Bank or credit union looks at number and gives a “yay or nay”.
5. Merchant keeps your name and card number so they know who you are when you buy again.

As you can see, the number on your card passes through multiple hands, and even stays with some. While your financial institution guards the number, others along the line may not. This is how major breaches occur. Bad actors break into these non-bank systems and steal the list of names and numbers, then sell them on the black market. Sometimes they lie in wait, gathering new numbers for months before anyone even notices. Then, the numbers are sold or posted online, and that’s when your frustrations begin.

Here’s how a tokenized mobile payment works:

1. When you add a card to your phone’s “wallet”, it asks your bank or credit union to verify your identity.
2. Your issuer then creates a new number just for mobile payments (which you never see).
3. Upon paying with your phone, a fingerprint is required to show it’s really you.
4. The phone then uses your “mobile payment” number to make another one-time-use number and sends that to the merchant.
5. The merchant asks your bank or credit union if this number is good, but learns nothing from it, since it will never be used again.

The number on your card never leaves your possession. Best part of this? If every one of those systems was hacked, your card number would still be safe. The issuer just makes a new “mobile payment” number for you, and that’s it. No canceling accounts, changing numbers, or mailing cards. In fact, it might happen without you ever knowing. Think of it like a security update for your credit card.

Tokenization isn’t scary. Swiping your card the old way is. Your credit union put a lot of work into supporting the mobile payment systems…growth will remain stagnant if only 1/4 see the value. Help your members live a safer financial life and spread the knowledge!

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