2007 was 10 years ago. I know mathematically that is not true. However, in terms of American cultural evolution 2007 was 10 years ago.
In 2007 most Americans had never really heard of Twitter or Lady Gaga. The pilot who flew the Enola Gay and dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima died. In 2007 the prime time TV audience saw their first iPhone commercials and the Motorola Razr's ride as the sleekest, most ultra-modern cell phone had lasted less than 2 years. On phone calls with clients, contemporaries and family, the prevailing sentiment seems to be that time is elapsing faster. It is Easter and then it is Christmas. It is an economic, psychological and cultural reality; we do in fact live in a world dominated by speed.
Collectively, credit unions need to embrace the reality that the world of leather checkbook covers and paper statements, (two items I still had in 2007) is rapidly giving way to the instantaneous and interactive world of mobile banking. Transactions that use to require a drive and a wait in the teller line are now completed in seconds from hand held devices that make the stuff Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock had look like Betamax. Of course, the Razr did that.
Speed is the most dominant concept in modern American life. I have been guilty of identifying problems without a tangible alternative. Here are my humble opinions on how credit unions can get ready for Generation Next and get a ticket for speeding, not movement.
Intentionally engage the Millennial generation now and differently. Gen Y turned 30 this year. The half of that generation that did not pick a credit union as their default banking option, probably never will. However, the oldest millennial is only 15. Marketing to this generation will have to happen in moments, not minutes and whenever possible, it is best when blended with music. Gen Y and the Millennial generation need to be engaged on a sensory and social level. Engage their senses with music and video and they will speed your brand across the 3 and 4G social networks that keep their little communities permanently connected.
Stop talking about a "movement." Credit unions can be the Target option in a Wal-Mart world. Never the biggest, but always a better experience. Our members don't join credit unions to be a part of a movement. Movement, the noun, is defined as "a progressive development of ideas to a particular end." I think the movement did end with the 20th century banking culture. The good news is that the movement ended with credit unions as a viable and often much better option to one of the big 4 or a community bank. Many credit unions are perfecting the niche, boutique style banking experience that the next two generations of members will want. The simple fact is we do owe a great deal of thanks to those older, much-maligned board members and executives who were part of the 20th century movement to keep credit unions relevant. Mission accomplished.
The Millennial generation is upon us. They don't read papers or listen to the radio. They will listen to a pitch provided it is quick, relevant, lyrical and it is especially powerful when it comes to them from their parents and peers. If credit unions want to earn their loyalty, then we must adopt some of their culture. They have grown up in a world of speed. Fast Internet, fast music downloads and fast fingers for texting.
Credit unions that maintain student branches at high schools have the single best practice for engaging this demographic because no matter how many Lady Gaga songs they can download on the bus, most kids still have a date with history and algebra nine months out of the year. Credit unions need to be where the kids are, when they are and that is in school. With a school branch the kids can learn about credit unions and credit unions can learn about them.
This year we witnessed the speed of the marketplace compel brands like Best Buy and Sears to start their Christmas buzz in late July. Target ran an online promotion called Back in Black. Target fused the back to school season and black Friday Christmas kickoff into one tight campaign. Ultimately, I think many Americans will find that tacky, but the prevalence of public schooling and holiday profits appears to be 20th century holdovers that are not going anywhere. The kids are going back to school this month, credit unions with on-campus branches are waiting for them.
I believe speed is the single most important item in determining which credit unions will be part of the new banking marketplace and which credit unions are to be victims of it. Speed is needed in making decisions, trusting your instincts and acting on opportunities and challenges versus methodically acknowledging them. Embrace the concept of a flexible response versus a strategic plan...quickly.
The iPad is the nail in the coffin of desktop PCs. Lady Gaga has more Facebook fans than President Obama. To a millennial, "free checking" makes about as much sense as "in-dash-8-track-tape-deck." I don't get paper statements anymore or have a leather checkbook cover.
And 2007 was 10 years ago.
Jason Dias is president of Eloquent
Online, a marketing CUSO.
He can be reached at 877-421-8715 ?