help them amplify their voices so they can do more good in the world.

Stop grandpa marketing

In order to keep the new member pipeline flowing, credit unions have to start doing a better job of targeting people 16-21 and even younger. This is when financial habits are established that will last a lifetime, and turn them into your core members in the future.

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

How do you change those old-fashioned grumpy Grandpa marketing habits that get in the way of attracting young members?

Invite those darn kids onto your lawn

Make youth and young adults a strategic priority for investment, not an afterthought. That means money, resources, policies and products. Young adults want first-time car loans and personal loans to establish credit, student loans, accounts with no pesky fees, fee forgiveness, advice, and automatic everything. They don’t want silly cartoon animal clubs; they want to be taken seriously and valued.

Watch out for Grandpa thinking

Look at yourself, your coworkers, your management team, and your Board. There’s a good chance these are the parents and grandparents of the 16-21 year old members who will keep your CU thriving in the future. That doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with young people; it means you need to work a little harder at understanding their needs and values and exactly how those differ from yours.

“When I was your age…”

Young adults nowadays actually have it a lot tougher in some ways than you or your parents. For example, entry level wages have stagnated for decades, yet education and healthcare costs have multiplied — it’s no longer possible to work your way through school. In order to cope, many are choosing to live with their parents longer or forego driving. Understand and respect these different experiences, and find ways to offer solutions.

It’s hip to be square

Young people are open to guidance and good advice on financial matters from a safe, trustworthy source. At the same time, they have finely tuned built-in spam detectors. Above all else, be authentic — don’t try to fake being “cool”. Help them plan ahead, be there to answer questions, and maybe try to cut them a little slack when they make mistakes.

Have a heart

Young people, even those under voting age, are more socially and politically active and powerful than you may expect. Values are more important to them than just “what’s in it for me”. Give them a CU they can believe in. Make sure they understand how credit unions make the world a better place, and how they can play a part. And show them you share their values; help them amplify their voices so they can do more good in the world.

Also published on CUInsight

Brian Wringer

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