BRAINERD, Minn. – Capturing the imagination and loyalty of young members is vital to any credit union's future, and now there is a new CUSO dedicating its energies entirely to youth marketing. Brainerd Service Corporation, a Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union CUSO, has joined forces with Evolutionary Marketing to form a new CUSO CU Marketing, which will help other credit unions market to youths up to age 12. MMFCU President/CEO Ray Burnett believes providing this type of youth marketing service to other credit unions is rather unique. "To my knowledge, this is the first such venture of its kind," said Burnett. "Eventually we'll outsource all of our marketing efforts to our own CUSO and we'll encourage other credit unions to do the same." No stranger to catering to kids, MMFCU Vice President of Marketing/Evolutionary Marketing Co-Founder Martin Kelly speaks at various credit union conferences about reaching younger members and was involved in the development of CUNA's online newsletter Googolplex, for which he still produces activities. "Youth marketing has been a passion of mine," said Kelly. "I know that there is a definite need for this because so many other credit unions have called me about our youth program and asked how they can emulate it – so the youth marketing focus was basically a no-brainer." According to Kelly, brand recognition of the $95 million credit union's Dimes to Dollars Youth Club characters is very strong among the club's 1,800 members. During a recent event, Meanie Mouse, who spends most of his time upsetting the saving efforts of club mascot Mid-Minnie Mouse, was surrounded and scolded by a group of eight year olds. "They knew who Meanie was, and what he stood for," said Kelly. "That kind of brand recognition is not easy to come by, particularly in an age group with such a short attention span." Encouraged by Burnett, who recognized youth marketing services as a natural CUSO fit, Kelly, with Evolutionary Marketing partners Art Director/Cartoonist Dewey McGuire, and Chris Green began working on their first joint product-developing a print publication for the 12 and under crowd. The result is a turnkey youth newsletter -Moneybags -complete with informative articles about the mission and advantage of a credit union, games and activities, an educational feature highlighting smart spending and saving habits and a full-page, full-color comic strip featuring a cute cartoon cast. The Moneybags comic cast includes Penny Wise, a girl who knows the value of money; Pound Foolish, Penny's little brother who has a lot to learn about saving; Wild Bill, a life-size dollar with western roots; Bottom Dollar, another oversized bill who raises dust and can't clean up his act; Small Fortune, a baby who has big credit union smarts; and Cold Cash, a girl who freezes at the notion of saving. The newsletters are sold ready to print on CD and can then be customized by the credit union to promote their own special events and youth activities or even shine a spotlight on special youth group members. The newsletter is also available in Spanish. "The characters are developed and the articles are written so subscribing credit unions take it from there- they can print the publication as is, or they can alter it as much or as little as they want. It's up to them," said Kelly. With an annual subscription of four issues, Moneybags is priced according to CU asset size. Regular prices will range from $300 for credit unions with less than $5 million to $1,200 for CUs greater than $200 million. For the initial launch, the CUSO is offering an introductory subscription discount of 25% until September 1. "This joint venture is really in the credit union spirit," said Kelly. "This newsletter is written and developed exclusively for credit unions by credit union professionals. Eventually we plan to provide sort of a youth club in a box so that credit unions could have their own youth club mascots or even a Bottom Dollar or Penny Wise step stool, chair or kids play area. Anything is possible and we have lots of ideas." Additional information about Moneybags is available online at or by phone at (800) 597-2107. [email protected]

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