**Originally posted on CUInsight.com**
As credit unions continue to focus on new and innovative ways to connect with members and potential members, they should take a close look at some dynamic trends that are emerging (actually that are EXPLODING) throughout the industry. All of these trends are appealing to the highly-sought-after younger generations.
Credit unions should ask hard questions regarding these trends. Namely – is our credit union embracing these trends or running away from them? Do we have the resources necessary to implement some or all of the services created by these trends? Are our employees willing, able, and excited to work within the scope of these trends in order to foster the growth that is needed?
Here are the trends:
Mobile Banking – put simply, this trend is exploding and taking the financial services industry by storm. No need to rehash what mobile banking is in this column. But we have to acknowledge that more people are looking to their credit unions to offer more technology-based platforms. Members and potential members are looking for convenience and no-hassle ways of conducting their financial business. Many credit unions have already adopted mobile banking and are offering its benefits to their members. Many more are looking into offering it soon. Some credit unions are not considering it and are citing various factors such as cost, security concerns, and the fact that they don’t think their current membership will use it. I am empathetic as far as cost and security. Mobile banking isn’t free and it isn’t very cheap either. But it’s here to stay. Perhaps credit unions who are worried about cost can cut spending in other areas in order to make a prudent investment in mobile technology. Among other steps, these credit unions may have to cut back on the number of events that they sponsor, or not order so many pens, mugs, and other things that they give away to members. Security is a valid concern but reputable mobile banking providers have significant security measures in place. Where I draw the line; however, is with the credit unions that don’t think their members will use the technology. They may not. But what about those younger members that you are trying to attract? They are glued to their smartphones and iPhones. Credit unions need to worry not just about current members but they need to provide compelling reasons for new members to join.
Social Media – it’s not going away, people. Facebook is approaching 1 billion users – that’s 1/7 of the world’s population. Twitter and Linked In continue to gain momentum. Does anyone think that Google + isn’t going to catch up as well? Credit unions should use social media to engage, educate, and inform. Back to those young members that are so desperately needed – they’re hooked on social media. Why not leverage this? Don’t worry so much about ROI and conducting membership drives with social media. Send a tweet or two a day. Post to your Facebook walls once or twice a day. Using social media doesn’t have to be a full-time gig. But it should be used in some manner by credit unions. Make it educational, interactive, and engaging.
Video marketing, e-marketing, and more – I recently read that for young internet users, You Tube – NOT Google – is the search engine of choice. It doesn’t cost much to produce a few simple yet informative videos about your credit union and what it has to offer. If we know that young members and potential members are going to You Tube to get information, why wouldn’t credit unions have a video or two come up in the engine’s search results? Seems like a no-brainer. Again, this doesn’t have to be expensive. Go get a quality flip camera and start filming.
These are not fleeting fads. They are important and worthy of discussion at your credit unions. At the very least, start the conversation, conduct the research and due diligence, and spend some time in your planning and management meetings talking about these developments.
Many credit union leagues and associations have programs whereby smaller shops can collaborate and work together to pool resources and share ideas. Take advantage of these programs.
Or just stick with the status quo – but remember the definition of insanity when you can’t figure out why you’re not attracting younger member or your loan growth is stagnant.