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The Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) recently invited me to present tips on reaching Gen Y. Like most organizations, they want to know how to attract the largest consumer group in history. With Occupy Wall Street and Bank Transfer Day leading the news, there’s never been a better time for credit unions to be heard.

The first step in building relationships with this generation is knowing everything about who Gen Y’ers are and what drives them.

1x1.trans | Credit unions should keep it real to woo Gen Y from banksMeet the Gen Y’ers:

  • Believe they can be and do anything.
  • Believe miracles are possible.
  • Want to live first and work second.
  • Care about servicing their community.
  • Don’t like to be told what to do or what’s cool.
  • Want to experience the world for themselves to develop their own judgement.
  • Don’t want to be marketed to.

Gen Y respects authenticity. Authenticity can be dorky, but it’s still hip. If you want to be listened to, be real. This generation can see through B.S.

Where are they? On their phones. They are more than half of mobile users in the US. Also nicknamed the Connecteds and Net Generation, they’re almost all socially networked. They do everything online, including research before buying. When purchasing a product or service they look for:

  • Low cost
  • Good quality
  • Fast service
  • An “experience”

1x1.trans | Credit unions should keep it real to woo Gen Y from banksLiving in an era when information is everywhere and everyone is constantly connected, how can NWCUA members and your organization reach Millennials? Relate to what’s important. Know that they listen to their friends. They care about their community and they care about living life well.

Give them what they want and:

  • Differentiate credit unions from banks. Seize the 99%.
  • Offer tools for living well that Gen Y will want to use. Financial literacy hasn’t been taught to them in schools. Make money management “an experience” with an app that helps them manage their money and reach their goals of buying a house or traveling the world.
  • Communicate credit unions’ community involvement. Offer an online program teaching financial literacy and curriculum for teachers.
  • Engage them on social networks. Let them lead on Facebook, and be a real resource for them on Twitter.

As evidenced by the 690,000 people who dumped their banks in a single month around Bank Transfer Day, Gen Y will like what1x1.trans | Credit unions should keep it real to woo Gen Y from banks credit unions offer. Be easy to find, easy to use and make their decision to switch easy.

As for any other organization? Anticipate what members of Gen Y will want from you and what they’ll look for on your website. Don’t add fluff. Make sure to give them something that they can recommend to their friends without sacrificing their authenticity.

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