What does it take for a financial institution to execute a comprehensive youth marketing program? While there’s no magic formula, a good place to start is with a well-integrated, multichannel plan of action that addresses every imaginable opportunity to engage your audience. Let’s take a closer look and break it down. Here’s a list of what financial institutions need to do to execute a robust, productive youth marketing program (in no particular order):
1.) Offer comprehensive, lesson-based financial education.
Besides the goodwill you’ll generate by providing much-needed financial education, youth marketing success hinges on the ability of your audience to understand the function of your products and services. You can’t encourage someone to open a checking account if they don’t know what one is, or worse, doesn’t care.
2.) Provide data-enriched direct marketing for parents.
Almost every study regarding marketing financial services to youth suggest the same exact thing: parents are the real gatekeepers — even when targeting young adults. And what’s still an effective way to find and communicate with mom and dad? Smart direct marketing. Contrary to what some believe, traditional marketing is not dead yet. It still works.
3.) Execute social media campaigns and leverage them with traditional marketing.
Establishing a social media presence is only a beginning. Engage your audience and make an emotional connection through listening and response. Create different ways for young members to interact with your brand. This can be through contests, scholarships or challenges. Leverage these efforts with traditional marketing strategies to ensure a 360 degree experience.
4.) Build your brand for the long-term.
Awareness campaigns, and not just product sales, is critical to the long-term success of any youth program. A teen may not be in the market for a car loan today, but if he has a positive image of your company, he’s more inclined to look to you in the future. (Note to CFOs: Not every marketing dollar will generate a demonstrable ROI at the end of the fiscal year.)
5.) Offer a continuous stream of content to engage the audience.
Fresh content will help generate relevancy, credibility, and perhaps even a little entertainment, all which go a long way towards keeping them engaged. Offer content in as many different formats as possible — online articles, newsletter, magazine, video, podcast, blog, music, etc. — and let them decide which they prefer.
6.) Gear up for events and community marketing.
Yes, your target audience lives online, but they also have lives offline as well. Get your brand out from behind your website and into the community. Let young members put a face to your message.
7.) Provide on-campus branch support.
(Where applicable.) An on-campus branch doesn’t necessarily mean you have the attention of the student body. Support your efforts with signage, school-related campaigns (e.g., prom loans), program ads, street teams and event marketing to become a familiar part of the campus experience.
8.) Have tools available to transition kids into your teen program,
and tools that get teens into to your young adult program.
What happens when a child, teen, or young adult outgrows their respective youth program? Don’t waste years of nurturing (and marketing dollars!) by failing to transition younger members through each stage of life. Be one step ahead of them and don’t assume that they’ll keep their account with you as they age.
9.) Provide a ‘Mint’ type of online banking experience.
How functional is your current website? What is your online banking experience like? Youth expectations are high when it comes to technology, and they don’t care how difficult or expensive it is for you to offer services like account aggregation. They just know they want it — and for free!
10.) Stay on top of current youth culture.
Keeping your finger on the pulse of youth culture will help you stay connected with trends and behaviors that may impact your efforts. Create a youth advisory board or partner with a youth research agency. Get connected to youth marketing professionals on Twitter and read related blogs. Join organizations such as the National Youth Involvement Board and attend youth-focused conferences.
See anything missing?
Please share your insights and experiences related to financial youth marketing.
James Flores is the CEO of Subcat Marketing, specializing in helping financial marketers reach “sub-categories” such as kids, teens, young adult and family markets. The firm develops fully-custom youth marketing and education programs for financial institutions across the country, and also offers a turnkey program for teens called The Elements of Money, the M3 Money Club for kids, and a financial newsletter for Gen-X parents.