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Illinois REAL Solutions network has first meeting of 2012
NAPERVILLE, Ill. (4/10/12)--Illinois REAL Solutions program partner credit unions attended their first in-person meeting of  2012 last week. They discussed attracting new members and eco-friendly loans, and compared popular prepaid cards.

Jonthan Fuhrman, marketing consultant with CU Solutions Group, noted that Generation Y (ages 17-32) is a group most credit unions hope to attract as new members. The evolution of technology and this group's lack of experience in managing money makes reaching Gen Y an interesting challenge, he said. 

He shared information on understanding Gen Yers, then reviewed marketing methods--traditional, online, social responsibility, mobile and referral--and explained how to maximize their effectiveness in reaching out to Gen Yers. Among the suggestions for marketing to this group:

  • Review images portrayed in printed marketing pieces, on websites and in lobby displays to ensure young, single adults are among those represented in the images;
  • Create and maintain a Facebook page, add QR codes (quick response barcodes) to printed materials, and develop mobile websites and ads; and
  • Avoid one-size-fits-all approaches; each credit union has its own goals and demographics to consider when determining the best marketing techniques to employ.
Abby Coroso of the Delta Institute discussed Eco-Friendly Loans and Energy Impact Illinois (EI2), a collaborative effort to help residents, businesses and non-profits reduce energy use. El2 is looking for credit unions to participate as lenders in its Residential Retrofit Loan Program. Homeowners use the loans to make home improvements that improve energy efficiency. Examples include upgrading boilers or furnaces, water heaters, programmable thermostats, central air conditioning and other qualified appliances or equipment. MembersAlliance CU, Rockford, and North Side Community FCU, Chicago, are involved in the program, which launched in November.

Jim Byrnes, executive director, national accounts for the ICUL Service Corp. (LSC) compared the Suzy Orman-endorsed prepaid card for consumers with others in the market, including LSC's CU Money product.

The second of the two in-person meetings for 2012 will be Oct. 16 in Naperville. The meetings are part of the REAL Solutions for Low Wealth Households program. The Illinois Credit Union League and ICU Foundation teamed with the National Credit Union Foundation in 2009 to offer the program. Currently 87 Illinois credit unions are participating. The program is operated by 35 leagues representing 37 states and includes more than 1,000 credit unions nationwide.


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