>Credit Union "Bucks the Norm" and Gets it Right

This entry was posted by Tuesday, 30 September, 2008
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>The “young adult conversation” in credit union world has evolved in the past three years I’ve been Manager of Young Adult Programs here at CUNA. The conversation is no longer about what the issue is and why there is a problem. It is now focused on what can CUs do, and how do they do it.

With that said, I’d like to share how one credit union is addressing the issue of better attracting and serving young adults. Tinker Federal Credit Union launched phase 1 of a financial education site for my generation called Buck the Norm. Check out the site, and this video for more details and to draw your own conclusions…

For this post, I want to focus the discussion on where the folks at Tinker have gotten it “right.” IMHO there are three major areas:

  • Content of site is RELEVANT, connects, and isn’t “jive.” The site is new, so there isn’t a giant amount of content. But what is on the site is written in a way that speaks with the user, instead of talking to the user, and isn’t trying too hard to be “cool.” The articles and blog posts are written in a style that is informative, to the point, and relaxed. The video is edgy, well produced, and makes a strong point. All of this is important because communicating in this manner connects with the audience and doesn’t come across as thinly veiled attempt to hook my generation into buying something. More on that later…
  • Good use of Web 2.0. Tinker provides an RSS feed and uses a button from addthis that enables social bookmarking, where users can share information with friends and promotes organic/viral promotion of their message. This kind of word of mouth marketing is a powerful way to share your message and has a genuine feel to those who receive the message, because it came from a person and not an institution or company. This is important because TFCU is attempting to take advantage of existing structures popular with a large portion of the demographic such as Facebook, Digg, Technorati, and other social networking/bookmarking tools to spread the word.
  • Not directly selling products or services. Actually I didn’t find any links to specific products/services offered by Tinker, only a small link at the bottom to Tinker’s main Web site… which from the user’s perspective, demonstrates a genuine attempt at bringing valuable information to the audience.

But why is that last point important? Because sites that position themselves as being a resource, and then hit you over the head with sales pitches are seen as disingenuous. The user is baited into believing the site is there to provide unbiased information, but then it becomes apparent that the REAL reason the site exists is to sell something.

A good example of this kind of tactic are those Web sites who offer something for free, such as a credit report, but require you to sign up for a service in return. The TV and radio ads, as well as the name of the site itself may suggest that you can grab a free item with no strings attached. However, reading the fine print reveals that the user is, in fact, signing up for a trial membership that is only free for a certain period of time. If the user doesn’t cancel their membership within the allotted time, they are charged for the service.

That’s not to say that providing links from sites such as Buck the Norm to related services and products is a bad thing… it’s all in how you position the site AND the links. For example, MoneyMix (my little project for CUNA) allows subscribing credit unions to provide links directly back to the credit union web site, but these links are displayed in an “ad” like format on the right hand side. There’s no confusion about the main purpose for the site from the user’s perspective and it’s a way for the credit union to demonstrate they can help the user with related products and services. Texas Dow Employees Credit Union’s work with Currency Marketing to produce Young & Free Texas and Resource One Credit Union’s similar attempt My Life My Money are good examples of how products or services can be integrated with a site specifically for my demographic.

2 Responses to “>Credit Union "Bucks the Norm" and Gets it Right”

  1. Susan Follick

    >Congrats to Tinker FCU on the great start to a Gen Y site. I agree that the strategy should be focused on building a relationship before attempting to sell products and services but at some point the investment will be questioned if some type of ROI cannot be shown. The social web is about building a community where people want to spend some time and get to know you and along the way you might sell something. It’s more about relationships than transactions. But that is a tough sell to the CFO in many CUs today.

  2. Kristyn Moore

    >Please check out the current Money Mistake scholarship contest and support my video by VOTING for Kristyn’s Mistake.


    Thank You!

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