“How do we reach Millennials?” is a question we hear often from credit unions and banks, particularly this time of year during strategic planning sessions.

 

It’s a great question, but it’s also one you’ve probably been asking for the last 10 years. It’s time now to get a little more creative than simply putting pictures of Millennials on your website.

 

My top recommendation for reaching Millennials? Host an event for millennials.

 

Here’s why an event for Millennials is a good thing:

 

  1. Events show your human side. BrandCap says Millennials only find one in four banking brands relatable. Make yours one of those relatable brands by letting this younger demographic interact with “the real you” face to face.

 

  1. This generation is all about experiences. Forbes says that 65 percent of Millennials are currently saving for travel, more than any other generation. They want to do things, not have things. Help facilitate that “experience all of life mentality” through events.

 

  1. Events get you out of the branch. The Financial Branch reports that 48% of Millennials think banking in person at a branch is unnecessary. If they’re not going to come to you, then go to them.

 

  1. The post-event follow-up potential is huge. In a recent survey from Splash, 92% of Millennials indicated they wanted to receive post-event emails with offers from the brands who sponsored the event.

 

Before you jump in and start planning, here are seven tips for hosting, sponsoring and successfully executing an event for Millennials.

 

  1. Remember not all Millennials are created equal

 

I cannot stress this point enough. Saying you want to target Millennials is like saying you want to plant a flower garden. What types of flowers? How much water and sunlight do they need?

 

Millennials currently range from ages 20 to 37. There’s a lot of life that happens there, which means there are several Millennial subgroups. You have college students, Millennial moms, DINKs (dual income, no kids) and HENRYs (highly educated, not rich yet) just to name a few.

 

Your first step in targeting Millennials through event marketing is to decide exactly which Millennials you’re trying to reach. Each subgroup responds differently and is interested in different things. You cannot be all things to all Millennials.

 

  1. Go where they are

 

Millennials are, for the most part, not prioritizing financial services. Your chances of getting Millennials to come to a cocktail hour at your branch after they finish work are slim to none.

 

Instead, go where Millennials already are. Host a puppy meet and greet at a local dog park. Partner with a local weekend farmers market. Sponsor an outing for a local Mothers’ Day Out group. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here.

 

  1. Preach the benefit

 

Many Millennials lack basic financial knowledge. More than 65% live paycheck to paycheck. Telling them they’ll qualify for a 2.50% APR auto loan for attending your event will not draw attention, because they don’t know what you’re talking about.

 

What will draw attention, however, is benefits. Tell them how their lives will be better for participating in the event. Examples include peace of mind, social connection and personal fulfillment.

 

  1. Don’t just have a booth

 

How much foot traffic do you actually get when you have a booth at events? Not much, likely because booths are boring. They fade into the crowd, not because what you’re offering isn’t good but because the way in which you’re offering it doesn’t stand out.

 

If you must have a booth, then make it interactive. Give the Millennials you’re targeting something to do, an incentive to interact with you (besides free junk).  Examples include a uniquely designed photo station or a basketball hoops contest.

 

  1. Engage with technology

 

The average Millennial looks at their phone every five minutes…without anything prompting them to do so. If they’re going to be on their phones during your event, then use it to your advantage. Give them something valuable to do with those screens.

 

Have them take out their phones and follow you on Facebook (yes, Millennials are still on Facebook) or (better yet) Instagram. Have them fill out a survey for a chance to win something. Get them engaging with technology in a way that also benefits you. For extra points, make your WiFi network name and password readily visible to attendees.

 

  1. Get creative with networking

 

If young professionals are your target, then networking is no doubt a mutually beneficial way to reach them. That said, everyone (and I mean everyone) hosts “networking lunches.” Millennials will likely skip yours for a more focused, interest-specific event.

 

Instead of falling victim to the generic networking lunch trap (and thereby wasting hundreds of dollars on free lunchers), get creative with your networking events. Host networking outings, corporate tours or high-profile speakers.

 

  1. Promote charity

 

Millennials who haven’t run a mile since it was required in grade school will get up at dark thirty in the morning to run a 5K supporting a local charity. Millennials love philanthropy and want to participate in their giving rather than just giving to causes blindly.

 

Caution: be careful how you promote your charity sponsorship. Make sure the charity you’re sponsoring aligns with your brand and target market. Second, don’t be sleazy.  Millennials crave authenticity, and they can smell you using someone else’s need for your benefit from a mile away.

 

Finally, remember the end goal.

 

Your end goal is to build relationships with Millennials that will lead to years of loyalty, not to host the biggest event in your credit union’s history. Build relationships with even a few key Millennials, and you’ll have them for life.

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