FAIRFAX, Va. -- When it comes to getting the word spread on a potentially good deal, the 18-to-30-year-olds that make up Generation Y are most likely the most adept through their heavy use of text messaging.
A flurry of text messages helped to pick the winner of a contest launched last fall by $237 million Fairfax County Federal Credit Union to promote its new Gen Y Extreme Checking Account. To generate interest, the credit union ran a contest to create a 30-second video to run on YouTube.com, touting the benefits of the account. A number of submissions were sent in and the top entries were narrowed to five. More than 1,200 people text messaged in their vote for the winning video--an animated cartoon featuring "Fairfax County FCU Man." The winner received $1,000 and an Apple iPhone. The top video is scheduled to run on Cox Communications Cable.
"It's a demographic, like all credit unions, we are very keen on attracting and retaining," said Joseph Thomas, president/CEO of Fairfax. "It's like when e-mail first came out. [Using YouTube] is something that is evolving in terms of how to use it to reach people."
Fairfax was able to increase its Gen Y demographic by 12% as a result of the promotion. Facebook ads supporting the contest generated 362,000 impressions per day at a cost of $1.67 per click. The credit union is currently in the process of rolling out a similar contest on YouTube in March focusing on the Hispanic market, with commercials submitted in Spanish and advertised on My Space en Espa??ol.
The Gen Y Extreme Checking Account has some features to appeal to 18-to-30 year olds. The checking account includes a free debit card with reward points, no monthly minimum balance or maintenance fee and up to six free foreign ATM transactions per month. Every $5 point of sale transaction and every $3 POS with a signature earn one point each. Account users also get one free insufficient fund pass annually. A $12 monthly maintenance fee kicks in if one electronic bill payment and one home banking transaction is not made each month.
Meanwhile, the text-message voting component has allowed Fairfax to create a Gen Y text message database it can use for future targeted marketing campaigns, said Matthew Kaudy, chief marketing officer at Fairfax. When they submitted their vote they also were opting-in to receive future marketing messages.
"Current media is fragmented and the Gen Y consumers are harder to reach, leaving viral and word of mouth as the most attractive cost effective alternative to traditional media," Kaudy said.
Still, the YouTube medium is too new to measure long-term success, Kaudy emphasized. For instance, data has not been determined on how influential other outside factors are over their friends and acquaintances in influencing buying decisions.
Thomas said Fairfax has always tried to reach younger people but this time it is hoping to bring in new members without the familiar "because mom and dad have accounts" at the credit union rationale.