Bankitis Part II

Gen Y: ‘Go Where They Are’

CU cites three key elements to reaching this group--and three mistakes to avoid.

November 21, 2011

In 2011, $1 billion asset Public Service Credit Union in Denver unveiled an innovative marketing campaign, Bankitis, to make itself relevant to Generation  Y.

“We realized we needed to create something that was free, resourceful, entertaining, and interactive,” says Andre Iervolino, the credit union’s market research/Gen Y initiatives manager.

He offers insights on how to connect with this group.

CU Mag: What are the best ways to approach young adults?

Iervolino: We have to go where they are. Companies that are strictly targeting Gen Y do that.

There are three key elements to reaching this generation:

1. Social media interaction. Listen to and engage with your audience. We use Google Alerts, HootSuite, and several other tools to track what Gen Y is talking about.

We follow other blogs, comment on posts, and participate in conversations that are already happening.

Read more about Bankitis here.

2. Gen Y-specific microsite. Build a website/microsite that caters to this generation. This should be fun, relevant, interactive, and interesting. This should also be updated regularly with current and relevant content.

3. Subscribers. Encourage people to subscribe to your blog and send weekly or monthly updates on what you’re doing. This reminds them that you’re out there.

CU Mag: What are the biggest challenges in attracting and serving young adults?

Iervolino: Some of the biggest challenges include having a cool brand, keeping things free, gaining trust, identifying where to place our message, and what to say to them within the social media spectrum.

Other challenges include keeping up with technology, delivering the service they expect in a fast and efficient way—and making them consistently profitable without creating a negative perception.

CU Mag: What do young adults want from a financial institution?

Iervolino: Young adults want a financial institution that is, first and foremost, convenient. They want mobile banking apps and e-statements.

They want to know they can access their accounts wherever they go. They want to know they won’t get charged for accessing their money, and they want the security of knowing their money is in a good place.

In short, Gen Y wants to do banking on their terms. They don’t want to spend a lot of time in a branch or on the phone with customer service.

They want to be able to get answers quick, and get on with their lives.

CU Mag: What mistakes do CUs sometimes make when marketing to young adults?

Iervolino: There are a few common mistakes, such as:

• “Selling” to young adults. Young adults don’t want a sales pitch. They don’t want to be told what to do. They feel better about a decision based on relationship, trust, and efficiency.

• Not staying relevant. Gen Y thinks of credit unions as a place where their parents or grandparents bank. It’s not the first place they think of when looking for a financial institution. Staying relevant, updating branding, and providing friendly technology can help grab Gen Y’s attention and let them know the door is open for them.

• Having a cool idea without substance. If you’re going to build a microsite and use QR codes, make sure you’re using them properly and that you know your audience. Gen Y won’t be interested in a microsite without substance and functionality.

CU Mag: What advice do you offer other CUs about connecting with young adults?

Iervolino: Be genuine, be resourceful, be entertaining, be interactive, and engage with young adults from the heart. Be where they are.

Understand them from a research and strategic standpoint and create a plan with specific, measurable goals. Keep up with new mobile technology and new social media channels.

One day Gen Yers will be 50 years old. We need to not forget to adjust and adapt our marketing strategies and tactics based on life stage, too.