As the person responsible for handling interest in the Young & Free Program, I'm thrilled at the interest and dialogue that's been started about reaching the Generation Y group with the launch of Young & Free Texas.
Since early June of this year, I've spoken with over 100 credit unions about the Young & Free Program. I’ve learned about unique challenges in marketplaces as diverse as you could imagine. Some credit unions are located in the starched and monogrammed suburbs of major cities, while others are in beaten and tired corners of urban sprawl. Many want to increase their penetration with Generation Y, and some already have good numbers but they just can’t keep them.
There are two topics that come up frequently. One is the master brand approach of Young & Free and the other is an individual versus group Young & Free Program.
A master brand
What really excites people about Young & Free is the big picture. Imagine a program that could differentiate credit unions on a nation-wide basis. Imagine the shared learning and knowledge that credit unions and spokesters can take advantage of by being linked to other program members across the U.S. and Canada. Can you see banks championing something like that? We see Young & Free as the "Intel Inside" for the credit union industry. It will become a trusted and proven program that gives credit unions credibility with the 19- to 25-year-old group.
For credit unions of modest assets and membership, I have to be honest—they are usually disheartened at the cost of the program and its components. They express hope that perhaps there will be a way that their state's or province's credit unions could share the cost of the program. I love telling them there is a way! Many groups have approached us for this very reason.
There are a few different guidelines for groups compared to individual credit unions:
- Product: The most important requirement is that they find a single product with a free component that all of the participating credit unions can offer. Our preference is to find a product that completely kicks ass*, but sometimes that is challenging for a single credit union, let alone a group. But it can be done. We are speaking with three groups now that are waist-deep in making this happen.
- Open membership: The league, central or association must offer the program to all of its state's or province's credit unions without exception. If credit unions choose not to participate, that's okay. However, the option to join later, on the anniversary date of the program, is always available.
- Central coordination: The league, central or association is the point man. It coordinates everything directly with the credit unions and bring it to us with revisions, approvals or whatever the decision at hand is. This allows us to work to our strengths. And let's face it—the thought of working with a potential committee of hundreds scares the pants off me! Better to leave that management to the pros who are, in most cases, already doing it well.
Every day I look forward to the conversations I'm going to have. And some of them are interesting!
I've been contacted by credit unions that DON'T have a broad enough field of membership, DON'T have a unique free account and DON'T have a management team open to social media (some of our online qualifiers) but still REALLY, REALLY want the program.
We've had an inquiry about just using the spokesperson search and "none of the other stuff."
We've heard all the typical fears:
- Losing the ability to control every marketing message
- Having a young spokesperson in charge of their reputation
- Having a blog with the potential for negative comments
And finally, we've had credit unions turn down the Young & Free because the program couldn't completely assume the credit union's brand or the credit union wouldn't have enough creative control. That's fine, we know Young & Free is not a fit for every credit union.
Our feeling has always been that the Young & Free brand has the potential to be a uniting force. It’s more than a campaign owned by a credit union—it’s a movement that will exist on a bigger scale.
I hope I have answered most of the questions that popped up in the blog-o-sphere this week. If you have other questions or comments, please post below and I'll do my best to answer them for you.
*Kicks ass: Something that the competition is not offering and, preferably, so unique that the competition CANNOT offer it.