It’s pretty clear… big banks are winning the war for Millennials. According to the 2014 FICO Millennial Study, two thirds of Millennials are opening accounts at the four largest banks in the U.S. — Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo. From the perspective of some community-based institutions, that trend may not be entirely bad; many Millennials aren’t the most profitable banking consumers. Not yet, anyway.

But for most banks and credit unions, acquiring younger customers is an integral part of their marketing plan. Here are five programs that Liberty Bank for Savings ($846 million in assets, five branches around the Chicago, IL area) has used to attract this demographic. You can take the ideas, adapt them to your situation, and use them to bring prospects to your institution.

1. Taco Crawl

Nothing attracts Millennials better than a beer and a cheap meal… or in this case, a Taco Crawl. Partnering with a local news site, Liberty Bank became the lead sponsor of a Saturday night run to five taco restaurants, each featuring a specialty drink. The modest price of $15 included five tacos, a Taco Crawl t-shirt emblazoned with Liberty Bank’s logo which had to be picked up at the bank. You don’t have to do a taco crawl. Think creatively and you’ll find other options to engage Millennials with your brand in ways that can support local businesses.

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( Read More: Steal This Idea: Cash Mobs )

2. Retro Baseball Shirts

Capitalizing on Millennials’ interest in retro wearables, community pride and the Chicago Cubs, Liberty Bank reprinted a baseball jersey used years ago by a local semi-pro team, the Logan ‘Squares.’ (If you dig into the team’s history, you’ll find that on one historic weekend in 1906, the Logan Squares beat both the Chicago Cubs and the newly-crowned World Champion Chicago White Sox.) Liberty Bank produced the retro-style baseball shirts and sold them for $20 to raise funds for Logan Square Preservation, a local nonprofit. The event generated a ton of local news coverage and exposure for the Liberty Bank brand. The event not only brought in many Millennials, but it also underscored the bank’s local history and support for the community.

 

3. Student Debt Workshops

Soul-crushing levels of student debt are having severe financial consequences for many Millennials — reducing savings, postponing household formation, delaying home ownership and jeopardizing their retirement. With intense public interest and widespread news coverage, Liberty Bank hosted a couple seminars on the financial well-being, geared specifically to a Millennial audience. The bank hired a student debt specialist to conduct the free workshops, and promoted them through online channels (blogs and social media) as well as traditional media. Sessions like these not only connect with the target audience, they generate considerable goodwill. And you get CRA credit to boot. You can host workshops like these in a branch lobby and/or broadcast it as a webinar. Either way, it’s a positive and proactive approach to your community outreach. You can also consider partnering with university alumni associations and community colleges to provide unbiased information to students and graduates, particularly those who face challenges related to student debt.

4. Comic Infographics

Infographics are a popular form of website content. Liberty Bank has found that comic-based visual imagery appeals to easily-distracted Millennials. It pulls readers in, getting Millennials to visit the bank’s website and start engaging with the site’s content. Infographics are quicker and more cost-effective to produce than many other types of content (e.g., video). Instead of word-heavy articles on such topics as eliminating debt, a comic strip with eight frames of easy-to-digest money-management tips is visually attractive and gets right to the point.

5. Kiddie Festival

Few events bring out more young parents and their children than kid-friendly events with music and food. In the autumn of 2015, Liberty Bank brought 250 young families to a Family Fall Fest with a petting zoo, pony rides and a face painter. Facebook and postings to local parent websites generated the majority of the event’s attendees.

Key Takeaways

1. Engage with local communities. Donating money to local organizations should not be the cornerstone of your community relations program. You need to engage prospects, and bring them into your lobby.

2. Give people a taste of hospitality and add retail excitement. For instance, Liberty Bank runs an in-branch sweepstakes program or has a wheel-of-fortune style booth where visitors can win prizes (while the bank collects email addresses and other contact info).

3. Marketing must nudge prospects down the buying path from awareness to advocacy. Charitable donations are easy and create (some) awareness, but a real engagement strategy will bring them into the bank to buy something from you.

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4. After getting prospects into your lobby, make sure they leave with an incentive to return. That may mean a series of discounts for bank services, a gift offer for opening a kid’s account, or a bonus for some other product/service.

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