Targeting Gen Y: Rich Opportunities With Direct Marketing

By Margie Church, Pinpoint Direct Marketing

Let’s face it: the broad span of ages in Gen-Y makes it challenging to build relationships. Some financial institutions have fantastic web pages directed toward teenaged youth, while others may focus on savings programs with prizes and activities at a younger group. But like many bank and credit union marketers, maybe you may be struggling to create a cohesive program that addresses the spectrum of ages and needs of this large and diverse group, not just one segment or two. How do you do it without driving yourself nuts, overwhelming your marketing department and breaking the budget?

The answer is a “trigger campaign.” With strategic precision, you begin communicating periodically with these members from day one. By the time they’re able to make their own financial decisions (without mom and dad), you’ll have earned their loyalty for life. Even in a kid’s younger years, there are few life events you can use to use as communication markers in a trigger campaign. With a little creativity, you can pinpoint these life events, start conversations, and build relationships with Gen-Y consumers.

Okay, that makes sense, but it sounds like a mountain of work. Where do you start? Use MCIF or similar data segmentation systems to break this large group by into smaller, age-based clusters. This allows you to deliver highly-personalized educational materials and relevant offers with specific appeal to busy parents and their child(ren).

Here’s your step-by-step guide through the ages.

Ages 9 – 14

You’re marketing to the minor child’s parents in this age group. Give mom and dad simple information to help teach young family members the importance and rewards of saving. Youngsters like to watch their money grow — the savings jar that becomes full of loose change and becomes a savings account for their first car.

Sending an annual birthday greeting is a simple, friendly way to start your campaign. Consider setting some age-appropriate savings goals as another component of your trigger program. Incentives and rewards are good motivators for children. Send congratulatory notes when the level is reached. The older end of this group might also get a friendly note if they haven’t made a deposit in the past six months.

By age 14, these children have their sights set on learning to drive. It’s not too early to explain simple ways these youngsters can budget for buying a car and understand the costs of car ownership.

Use age-appropriate graphics and language, so parents and children can talk about the subject together. Consider a companion print or email piece to the parents alerting them the communication is coming. Follow up with parents via email to take action and learn more.

Ages 15 -18

Birthdays are still important identifiers for life-changing events that impact their finances. Expanded information about how to buy their first car and how strong academic performance helps save on auto insurance are great topics to have in your campaign.

An invitation to open their first checking account gets them thinking about banking with you. High school graduation and planning for college expenses are exciting and scary. Another letter could explain how your financial intuition can help. Reaching savings goals or account dormancy can trigger another communication.

Keep parents in the loop with direct mail and email for quick follow-ups. Make copy easy-to-understand to hold the young adult’s interest during their conversation with their parents.

Ages 19-24

Parents are still co-signators on most accounts and loans, but they’re slowly letting their children put their financial education into practice. Your goal is to convince the parent that your financial institution is the best place for their child as they enter their earning years. Use email to keep talking to parents about products and services that help their child become more independent, and still have appropriate safeguards to stave off financial disasters.

This transitional group is interested mobile banking, first credit cards, and low-interest student loan financing and repayment. Use casual language and simple terms they can understand. Keep it short. Birthday greetings are still a friendly thing to do, but if the customer has checking and savings accounts, co-signed credit cards or other loans, your opportunities to communicate and educate are excellent.

Explain how young adults can build a good credit score. Many college-aged students fall into steep credit card and student loan debt.

Provide tips for managing their money and credit as they step out on their own. Also, talk about banking apps and alerts your financial institution has.

Email is a powerful tool for these nomadic young adults, who may change their physical address 3-4 times during this period.

Ages 25 – 30

The days when the Bank of Mom and Dad was always open are coming to an end as these young adults start to achieve true independence. They have tons of questions, and need reliable advice in straightforward language.

Remember, Gen Y loves electronic communication and this age group is definitely on the move for many reasons. Use email as the primary delivery method in this trigger campaign. Continue using data to center on the life events these members are likely to experience. Encourage savings, offer direct deposit to those who don’t have it. Suggest signing up for bill pay to protect their fledgling good credit if they aren’t enrolled. Pair the products and services with other helpful information that builds confidence that you’re their financial solutions provider.

On the subject of education loans, credit unions are offering to consolidate private student loan debt. This is a great opportunity to help cash-strapped former students manage their education debt and still have a positive outlook about achieving some of their other financial dreams. Considering how much this generation enjoys sharing information, this is certainly a subject worthy of sharing if you do it right.

Other Savvy Steps You Should Take

Multi-channel delivery: When marketing to the parents of minors, it’s a very good idea to send these campaigns via print and follow up with email. For young adults who are likely on the move, email might be the best primary delivery tool. They’re looking for easy access to information they can really use. They also appreciate green initiatives. Consider creating a special electronic newsletter just for them. This group will appreciate the easy way to share and store the information this way.

Make it personal: Electronics make it fast, but you’re still an organization of human beings. Don’t overlook the chance to meet these people personally and advise them the way their parents might have. Empower them further with fun events and free seminars. Provide the name and number to call at the credit union when they have more questions.

Easy response tools: Always include a PURL/GURL or hyperlink to online services to make contacting you or accepting the offer trouble-free.

Boost your website content: Gen-Y combs the Internet with ease. Give these subjects a permanent home on your website for a handy future reference. Create a virtual library of newsletter topics if that’s the route you choose. Create youth-friendly web pages. Configure website pages for mobile viewing.

Use social media: Create a prospecting opportunity by introducing these topics via your credit union social media pages.


Margie Church works for Pinpoint Direct Marketing. Pinpoint Direct Marketing creates data-driven, electronic and print marketing campaigns for the financial industry. Its customized campaigns achieve excellent results without premium costs. Learn more about Pinpoint Direct Marketing at www.PDMKT.com.

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