Expert Sees Children's Value To CU As More Than Kids Stuff

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Kevin Blair wants to know, "Is your credit union's focus on kids limited to a mascot and some coloring books in the lobby?"

If so, you're missing out on tremendous marketing opportunities not only toward the kids, but also toward the women who often bring them to your branch.

Blair, President of NewGround, a strategic marketing firm for financial services companies, will offer suggestions on how to pull in these two most overlooked groups during The Credit Union Journal's 6th Annual SEG & Business Development Conference. The event is set for March 31-April 1 at Renaissance Orlando Resort at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fl.

His talk, titled "McDonald's has a Playground Out Front for a Reason," will present new research that shows how marketing to women and children can improve your business potential. "Eighty percent of the financial decisions of a household are made by women, yet most branches are designed and built by men," Blair said. "No wonder there is a natural disconnect."

Blair, whose company has several offices in the U.S. and Canada, also specializes in brand strategy development, architectural design and construction management, multimedia and merchandising displays and employee development, will show how a kid's educational program targeted at teaching 6-to 12-year-olds financial responsibility can help.

Among them, he said, is the Moonjar Educational Program that connects business development and marketing personnel with local schools.

"With schools cutting back on spending of the life skills, the CU's can become proactive in reaching out to the kids and connecting live to teach and build relationships," he said.

Another suggestion, offer them a chance inside a money machine, a Plexiglas enclosure that blows air from the bottom.

"The CU places money in the chamber and then when an account is opened, the kid gets 30 to 60 seconds to grab as much as they can," Blair said. "Kids eat this up. It is fun and not very costly to the CU."

Blair said kiosks that use management and money to educate kids are also a big draw. His suggestion is to create one that includes resource materials and items for sale such as books on money and games.

A NewGround survey, conducted during the 2004 NAFCU Conference in Vancouver and two other national trade shows uncovered major holes in the CU industry's efforts to market to children, Blair said.

Among them, 44% did not even know what a "tween" was. And, while 64% felt marketing to kids was important and 74% agreed that they have considerable potential, more than half of those surveyed-62%-admitted they had no area in their branches to appeal to kids.

What do the kids think about that?

Blair will discuss that, too, when he reveals the results of a separate NewGround survey that asked children what they think of the "banking" experience.

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