The Way to Attract “Y”ounger Members (part 2)

Appealing to their parents is not the only way to attract twenty-something members.



Last week, I wrote about how to attract Gen Y members. In response, the following question was posed: “The article is a good read, however, marketing wise, how can we reach the younger demographic?”

Good question. Everybody is trying to find that magic combination of social media and traditional outreach that makes your message sticky and brings hordes of twenty-somethings into your branches. I don’t know if I can do that, but I can offer my observations and share the opinions and preferences of my peers.

You can’t count solely on traditional marketing methods to reach Gen Y; times have changed and the Y generation is quite different from others. Young people don’t do conventional things: Some watch TV but most skip the commercials; some buy CDs but many download music, watch it on YouTube, or see it live; some play video games while others hike mountains or fly-fish; some drive Hummers and smoke cigarettes while others live “green” on ecofarms. No one variable adequately classifies all (potential) members in that group, and if there was one, it would be too general to be effective.

Yes, it’s tough to market to Gen Y as a whole, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach younger members. Rather it means you need a plan of which segment you want to reach. First, decide who you want to market to (for example, college kids or anyone who needs loans or savings). Then, strive to understand what it is that would reach them the best. The best way to reach me personally is through other people. I don’t watch commercials. I barely watch TV. The shows I do watch I catch on the Internet – and I ignore the ads. I don’t listen to the radio and when I do I change the station during commercials. In my previous blog I said the best way to market to Gen Y is through their parents. I stick to that, but another great way to reach Gen Y is through their friends. I realize this begs the question of how to reach friends, who are also Gen Y, but hear me out.

In addition to the parent angle, consider student lending. A large segment of Gen Y has either completed, is in the process of completing, or expects to complete some kind of higher education. And nearly every one of them has to pay for it themselves to some degree.

There are plenty of resources to test the waters of student lending (CU Student Choice is one option and provides a strong brand connection between the borrower and credit union). Many Gen Y’ers are looking for, using, or paying back student loans. If you can get a student loan program up and running and get five Gen Y customers, you will find an outlet to our nation’s youth. And once their friends inevitably brag to them about the unbelievable rate they are getting (believe me, I’ve heard it happen), you will have them banging down your doors in no time. If you can get a few to notice you, they will market you for free. My prediction as a Gen Y’er is that once you can get a great, youth-focused product such as student lending out to even a small number of students, it will work like every other Gen Y-approved product. Myspace and Facebook didn’t have TV commercials or mailings or billboards, and you don’t need them either.