Millenniels, Mirth, and Money: Making Gen Y Laugh and Learn Pays for Credit Unions (Part II)

This is the second of a three part series on Gen Y  and credit unions by guest author, Kathy Klotz-Guest. The first post was published last week, and can be read here. The second part of this series discusses using videos, contests and social media. Read more below:

Video: Gen Y consumers watch a lot of online video (research firm ComScore reports the average American viewed over 23 hours of video in the month of December 2011) and, today, a growing number are watching them on mobile devices. Video is your chance to connect with this audience at a human level in ways that traditional media cannot. Based on research I have conducted with more than 100 companies, the most important factor in video success is having a great story that is relevant to your audience. If your video happens to go viral, that’s great. Your goal, however, is to connect with your audience in a meaningful way and prompt them to take some specific call to action.

If computer giant IBM, viewed as stodgy and out of touch just 10 years ago, can change its image and poke fun of itself in the now famous “Art of the Sale” videos, so can credit unions. Video should humanize your brand, not bore people. That’s what collateral is for! There are credit unions creating some innovative and funny videos. One of the best videos to speak about the benefits of credit unions is a spoof of Apple’s celebrated Mac v. PC ads (Bankerspank.com or YouTube). The younger, cool guy represents the credit union, while the stodgy, “stuffed suit” represents the bank.

This video series, a handful in all, works well for a number of reasons. First, it’s a funny parody of well-known commercials. Secondly, it uses elements of “story” and metaphor to make its points, and to connect on a human level. The fact that a Gen Y actor plays the ‘cool’ role of the credit union—the banking equivalent of a Mac—is salient. Thirdly, the video series also educates younger viewers on the important differences between banks and credit unions without trying to sell a particular credit union.

Finally, it upends expectations about the way credit unions are marketed. It’s even okay for your credit union to poke fun at itself and its history (for example, maybe you haven’t always been on the vanguard of technology adoption)—as long as you demonstrate that you have changed and are looking to create better relationships with younger customers. Humor shows humility, and it signals to your audience, “Hey! We get it. We know how we have been perceived, and we’re ready to change.”

Another example of a fun video that shows credit unions with personality is “The Winning Team” by University of Kentucky (UK) Federal Credit Union. It shows a handful of bored Gen Y credit union employees who start an impromptu baseball game in the office. The fun is unexpectedly endorsed by the boss. Besides providing a great laugh, this video did not cost much to produce. Quality content is not the same as quality production. Content trumps production values, according to my research on video storytelling. The potency of the message is an important one: This credit union believes fun and service are all parts of a compatible winning team that serves, and is served by, Gen Y members. This matters, given that the credit union is associated with a university system. It’s a good example of what a lighthearted tone (and a relevant message) without a heavy budget can do. And just as with the Credit Union v. Bank video, this video is short. The ideal video is under two minutes.

Contests: Social media also enables content to be interactive and shared in a way traditional media does not, so take advantage of its participatory elements. People love to create and share their own content. Allowing users to participate by creating their own media (CGM, consumer-generated media) is a way to increase engagement and fun and enable your audience to help tell your story to peers. It’s also a great way to stretch your marketing budget and ensure that content is created by your intended audience with their own needs in mind. Fairfax Credit Union in Virginia launched a video contest for the Gen Y Extreme Checking Account commercial (on YouTube). They invited members of Gen Y to create short 30-second videos about the credit union’s new Gen Y Extreme Checking service.

This effort worked on a number of levels. First, it facilitated awareness and engaged Gen Y members to create content and, in turn, educate their peers about the new “Extreme” service. Secondly, the videos were funny, absurd and odd— an authentic reflection of Gen Y humor created by Gen Y participants. Finally, by inviting members to create their own videos, the credit union expanded its reach without having to create all of its own content. Often, an organization’s best storytellers come from outside its walls. Your engaged fans are your best and most credible referral sources. Just remember to make it fun, encourage creativity and allow them to share their creations on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Stay tuned for the last post in this series!

About Kathy Klotz-Guest: Kathy Klotz-Guest, CEO of Keeping it Human, helps organizations connect with audiences on a human level and get better marketing results. In her 20-year career, she has led successful marketing and communications strategies for high-tech, financial and services firms. A founding fellow for the Society for New Communications Research and comic improviser with the ComedySportz San Jose Rec League, she can be reached at kathy@keepingithuman.com, or via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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