Market To Me, Not My Mother

A phone call hits the mark for this millennial marketer. Life insurance statement stuffer? Not so much.

If you want to reach young adults, you have to think like a young adult. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider when marketing to millennials.

Take a quick look at two demographic profiles, one for me and one for my mother.

Profile #1 – My Mom

Age: 59

Location of Residence: Frederick, MD (suburbs of DC)

Type of Residence: Single-family home

Current Loans: mortgage, car, credit card, student (Parent PLUS)

Profile #2 – Me

Age: 26

Location of Residence: Washington, DC

Type of Residence: Apartment

Current Loans: student, credit card

If you were to look at my profile, what products or services do you think your credit union should promote to me? Perhaps student loan consolidation or an auto loan? Mobile banking and reward card programs might also be at the top of the list. How about life insurance? I am guessing that wasn’t one of the first products that came to mind. You can imagine then how surprised I was recently when I received a marketing letter from a credit union promoting life insurance. For a moment, I thought it was meant for my mother.

This is precisely why segmentation is vital for effective marketing. As a mid-20s professional, I want my financial institution to help me fund my future.

Not every member is in the same stage of life, so it’s imperative to adjust marketing efforts accordingly.

Here are three questions I ask myself when I analyze marketing:

  1. Is this relevant to my current age, financial needs, or interests?

  2. Is this promotion or service attractive or unique?

  3. Is there any personal touch to the offer?

Here are a few examples of different ways financial institutions have recently appealed to me through marketing by keeping those three questions at the forefront on their marketing efforts:

All About The Alumni

My roommate recently received an oversized postcard promoting an alumni-branded credit card with a special rate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Federal Credit Union ($440.7M, Cambridge, MA). I thought this was smart marketing. MIT grads tend to be proud of it, so this was a good way to promote a product that young adults would be proud to pull out of their wallet at the next store.

Shine On Social Media

According to the PWC Millennials Survey, two main reasons young adults use Facebook is to find things that entertain them and look for interesting articles and links. Sponsored posts mimic regular posts on Facebook, so this can be a strong way to reach millennials, but only if you catch their attention. I’ve seen several financial institutions promote credit cards or auto loans but miss the mark by not leading with the benefits. Why would I want to click this ad? Here are three examples of ads on Facebook I would actually click and why.


I just bought a new car. Saving money on gas is top of mind. I clicked on this to learn more about the rewards.


Like many young adults, I rely on Uber to get around the city easily. I could earn 20% by using a Capital One card on my rides? Right on.


If promoting your mobile app usage is a priority, lead with that on social media. That’s what Suncoast Credit Union ($6.3B, Tampa, FL) did here. After all, millennials check their smartphones approximately 43 times a day.

Dial For Dollars

A few months ago, I got a phone call from a local number. The person left a message stating they were calling from my local financial institution branch, located right across the street from my office, and asked that I please give them a call back when I got a chance. The first thing that came to mind was that my information had been compromised or there must be an issue with my account, so I immediately called back.

Turns out, the friendly associate wanted to simply check in and see how my account was working and ask about my additional financial needs. I did not sign up for any additional services that week, but I will say that the experience rejuvenated my relationship with the institution. It made me feel like I was important to them.

In today’s digital world, it’s an interesting tactic to switch focus and appeal to young adults in a different and unexpected manner. Pick up the phone and give them a call. They’ll probably be so surprised; they might actually give you a chance to connect. They might not sign up for a card over the phone, but your brand will be top of mind when they look for additional services in the future.

Key Takeaways

Irrelevant marketing can foster a negative company image. Smart marketing can increase sales and brand loyalty. It might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s something that takes time and effort. At the bare minimum, credit unions should be using member age and current account types to segment marketing.

Online behaviors (do they use the app, how many transactions, type of transactions, etc.), location, and inquiry history are other easy segmentation filters. Lots of marketing and data companies now have the ability to target members based on search history, so if I was searching for a used car online, you would be able to market an auto loan to me. While this is ideal and the future of marketing segmentation, the basics are still a solid, inexpensive, and effective alternative all credit unions should be taking advantage of.

Relevant, unique, and personal. That’s the way to the younger heart and wallet. And sometimes all it takes is a phone call.

August 19, 2015

Keep Reading

View all posts in:
More on:
Scroll to Top
Verified by MonsterInsights