No Secret Sauce for Connecting With Millennials
With its “We are Family” tagline, Linn Area Credit Union said its laid-back style, evident in online channels such as blogs, is appreciated by young members.
In the search for the answer of how to reach Millennials, a good start may be to focus on the basics of being present, listening and customizing relevant solutions and experiences.
Read more in the Nov. 13 Gen Y Focus Report:
- Marketing Gen Y Stats Worth Noting (Infographic)
- Finding the Y: Guest Opinion
- In exclusive content to Credit Union Times’ readers from the Filene Research Institute, read how credit unions can form long-term relationships with young adults in Filene’s full report, “Next Generation Needs: Examining Credit Union Loyalty Among Young Adults.”
At the $302 million Linn Area Credit Union in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the strategy goes back to truly living its brand.
“The Linn Area Credit Union we present on our website and social media is the very same Linn Area Credit Union you get when you walk through our brick and mortar,” said Tara Bross, marketing specialist. “We joke around, we talk to you like real people, we live our brand. We don't try to be something we're not.”
The credit union's brand revolves around its “We are Family” tagline with lighthearted family fun, Bross said. The consistency and laid-back style evident in everything from its website contact page to its blogs has been something locals appreciate, she noted.
“Fewer people are physically coming into branches these days, which makes having a consistent online presence of your brand absolutely vital,” Bross said. “We have heard from countless members that our website is the reason they decided to join our family. The fact that we are real and don't try too hard to be cool wins them over.”
When Linn Area CU staffers were handed a stuffed monkey found at a Balloon Glow community event, Bross immediately posted a picture and message not only to the credit union's Facebook page, but also shared it on the event's and local news media's Facebook pages in an effort to reunite the toy with its owner.
“When we were given this monkey in a sea of 17,000 people at an event we sponsored, we didn't skip a beat. We didn't look at it and think ‘what a great marketing opportunity.’ We simply wanted to reconnect a child with his or her very loved stuffed animal,” said Bross.
Staying true to its culture of having fun, a Monkey Business album chronicled how the stuffed animal stayed busy in various departments while waiting to be reunited.
A social media campaign to reunite a stuffed animal monkey with its three year-old owner led Linn Area Credit Union to create its Loved & Found program to reconnect lost items with their owners.
By the end of the week, not only was Kathy the monkey reunited with her three-year old owner, but the story generated 150 comments, reached more than 150,000 people and some 2,125 credit union members shared it with their Facebook friends.
In addition, local media covered Kathy's journey, with one local television station running the story twice and the Cedar Rapids Gazette publishing an article with photos.
Using social media to simply do the right thing helped Linn Area CU effectively entertain, engage and promote its brand image, Bross said.
“The beauty of the monkey story is that it embodies what we do for our members every single day. It was just on a much greater scale,” Bross said. “That is who we are.”
For Linn Area CU, its blog has been the heart and soul of its social media efforts, followed by Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
“Do we do everything perfectly? No. Our efforts are always a work in progress,” Bross said. “We're focused on quality over quantity. When we provide content, we write from our hearts, use every day language, and inject some humor.”
In an effort to prevent “best friends forever” from ever being separated again, the credit union recently launched a Loved & Found program. Families can sign up for ID tags by providing their email. Should a tagged stuffed animal get lost, the tag clearly instructs the finder to get in touch with Linn Area CU, which will then send out an email to its Loved & Found members. So far, some 36 tags have been given away and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Bross said.
Next Page: Big Ideas in Texas
For the past three years, Generations Federal Credit Union has also found success with Millennials by connecting through financial education.
The $427 million credit union in San Antonio has two staffers dedicated exclusively to serving the growing target demographic, according to Kimberly Blohm, student brand manager, and David Rodriguez, financial education manager. Both have become an integral part of campus life across all five of Alamo Community College's campuses.
“There's this misperception that Millennials don't want financial education but they really do,” Blohm said. “This demographic is not making the kind of income their parents did [and] are going into an economy that isn't as flourishing as it was 20 to 25 years ago; so, reaching their financial goals is very important to them because they need and want the help to get there.”
According to Wendy Bryant-Beswick, chief marketing officer at Generations, it's about relevant customization.
“So, it's not just financial education, we offer scholarships, internship opportunities and work with teaching staff and school administrators to find out what their needs are,” said Bryant-Beswick. “It's made a big difference.”
Because Blohm and Rodriguez have been so strategic in approaching and building these long-term relationships, the credit union is viewed as a one-stop shop, Bryant-Beswick said. As a result, when Millennials are doing something new they come to Generations first.
She added that as Millennials themselves, Rodriguez and Blohm have helped create and deliver the solutions their peers want by being an integrated part of campus culture. Everything from their appearance in jeans rather than suits, to giveaways and campaigns, are authentic and tailored to the student audience.
For example, this year, Generations launched its first “Your Ride, Your Rules” auto loan program tailored specifically to make it easy and painless for students to get into their first car. It not only exceeded goals by 25% but local auto dealers have been contacting the credit union to find out when the next rollout will be, according to Bryant-Beswick.
“You have to have some staff in that demographic to know what they want or need. Without that, you can't even ask the right questions of what will work,” said Bryant-Beswick. “If we want to appeal to that demographic, we can't just look like everyone else. If we sent an older staffer or someone in a suit, it just wasn't going to work. How we dress, and how we message on campus all needs to be genuinely relatable to students.”
The constant campus presence has helped turbo charge the effectiveness of its efforts to connect with students.
“It goes back to staying relevant. You have to get in front of them on a consistent basis, be active in social media and use these platforms to communicate,” Bryant-Beswick said. “There's constant evolution in that area but our strategy is very much based on going where they are.”
In addition to going on campus and attending, events platforms such as Pinterest or Instagram have helped the credit union branch out into where Millennials gather, Bryant-Beswick pointed out.
Being a part of social media has simply become a part of doing business, Bross said.
“It's no longer a bonus, but an expectation,” said Bross. “There's so many social media outlets out there and the best strategy is to choose one or two channels and be really good at those. You can't be everything to everyone so just be dynamite in the areas you commit to.”
Generations FCU's “Your Ride, Your Rules” auto loan program was tailored to make it easy and painless for students to get into their first car.