The MySpace Generation: Marketing to Generation Y

That’s the title of my speaking topic for tomorrow. I’m up right after lunch. I expect to have board members and senior management in my session. And I’ve been losing sleep over this? Why?

Not because I’m 47 – technically on the cusp between the Baby Boomer Generation and Generation X. Not because I’m not prepared, in fact I think I may have over-prepared. I guess it’s because I feel like I’m going to poop in every marketer’s punch bowl tomorrow, and well, you’re my peeps.

But it’s been bugging me for some time now, so I have to say it. We have to STOP doing what doesn’t work. We need Marketing 2.0! Modern marketing. New tools in our toolbox. In doing my research I created a marketing/media timeline:

1681 is the year of the very first direct mail piece in America. A pamphlet published by William Penn.

“No Junk Mail” is a movement in Australia today.

1704 came the first newspaper in America. So far this year 3 major newspapers have gone out of print/business.

1876 was the first telephone call ever made. In 2003 Bush signed the Do Not Call Implementation Act to protect consumers from telemarketers.

1924 the first radio broadcast in America. In 1998 the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed allowing for Pandora type streaming commercial free customized radio.

1941 is the year of the first television broadcast in the US. Just 50 years later TiVo is invented changing the way we watch TV (commercial free).

1990 The world wide web is created. Marketers quickly tried to adapt this new medium to old school methods. Pop-up ads appeared and almost immediately software was created to block them.

How do you market to generation Y? You can’t. Period. So stop trying. Stop doing what doesn’t work. It’s no wonder the average age of a credit union member is 48 nationally. That’s one year older than me! Look at your web page, your last direct mail piece, listen to that radio ad you just produced, or clip out that newspaper ad and hang it on the wall above a teller’s desk- do you think anyone under 45 is really going to care?

It’s funny, but Generation Y acts very much the same way as our credit union founders. They are faced with exactly the same economic challenges, have traditional values and do not trust big banks but rather each other. They love to gather (think common bond) and give each other advice (think people helping people) they just don’t do it in the company lunch room. They do it on their phones and laptops on the subway, in the coffee shop, or just walking down the street.

We need to join this conversation. We need to stop TELLING them what they want and what they should do and start LISTENING to what they want and figure out what YOU should do.

Social network users are 3X more likely to trust peer opinions over advertising in purchase decisions.

1 word-of-mouth conversation = the impact of 200 TV ads!

We need to understand, word-of-mouth always has been, and always will be the best, cheapest and most effective marketing. Your direct mail pieces aren’t getting you word of mouth. They may get you some hot money.

Stop “going after” people and products and start targeting a problem. Kudos to Technology Credit Union for writing their own iPhone application! And to the 200 plus credit unions that are now Twittering (thank you Roger Conant for CUTweetTrack).

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t want to encourage R & D (rip off and duplicate) by just showing the things that credit unions are doing to attract this generation.

What are you doing in the Gen Y space that is worthy of a mention? What’s left of your common bond? Is there a cause in there you could get behind?

And because I’m going to be speaking to the League of IBM Credit Unions (now called the Alliance of Credit Unions) I leave you with their mantra. Think.