Appealing to millennials in 4 easy steps

Hi, I’m here. You know, that Millennial that you want to join your credit union so badly? I’m sorry it took me a while to make it into your – oh, what do you call it? Branch? I overslept in my parents’ basement after a long night of polishing my participation trophies, and of COURSE had to squeeze in a quick avocado toast and mimosa brunch before heading over.

(Okay, sarcasm aside, avocado toast easily ranks in my top 10 favorite foods, but if you pay $19 for it you’re really doing it wrong…)

I’ve heard through the grapevine that my generation is the hot topic of your board meetings and strategic planning sessions. You want more people like me to bank with you to keep the credit union movement thriving. Always wanting to help, I’m here to give you what you’ve been asking for – a step-by-step guide outlining how you can appeal to me and my cohorts in four easy steps!

STEP 1: Remember, we’ve been here before.

While Millennials are talked about like they’re aliens in the media, it’s important to remember that older generations have long been mystified by younger generations and what motivates them. For example, while the quote below could have easily been written two weeks ago, the author of this Time Magazine cover story from July 1990 is making generalizations about Generation X, not Millennials:

They have trouble making decisions. They would rather hike in the Himalayas than climb a corporate ladder… They crave entertainment, but their attention span is as short as one zap of a TV dial… They postpone marriage because they dread divorce.”

My generation isn’t the first—and it won’t be the last—to be labeled as narcissistic. Self-absorption is a trait often left behind as people age, so that reputation will begin to fade as Millennials get older (just in time for everyone to say the same thing about Generation Z!). So the fewer comments you can make about us not wanting houses or not caring about our retirement as you open our accounts, the better.

STEP 2: Consider the humanity of Millennials.
Reframe questions like “How do we connect with Millennials?” to “How do we connect with people?” Because at the end of the day, that’s all Millennials are. Just like any other bunch, we want to feel financially safe and secure. We have the same basic needs like transportation, food, and shelter that require money to fulfill. We want to believe we’ve made a good choice in selecting a financial partner. A generation can’t shift the foundation of credit unions’ “people helping people” philosophy. Listen to our financial needs and dreams and offer your assistance – just like you would anyone else.

STEP 3: Don’t invest in technology for technology’s sake.

Don’t overstretch to fill your credit union with shiny objects meant to entice us as “tech savvy” people. Technology, of course, is increasingly important in a world that is constantly innovating and evolving; however, if the technology you implement doesn’t provide a simple and efficient user experience, it’s time to re-evaluate.  Rolling out underdeveloped or underperforming technological tools for the sake of being able to advertise them is always a bad move because as members adopt them and realize they’re cumbersome, you’ve branded yourself as the credit union with a clunky user experience. Millennials aren’t attracted to shiny new tech if it doesn’t do its job (and neither is anyone else). 

STEP 4: Stay true to who you really are.

You might think it’s a great idea to completely redecorate your branch to look like the Apple store that just opened up at the mall.  Just remember, we love you just the way you are, really. If that’s not your brand, Millennials will sense it.  As long as you know your brand and embrace your differentiator(s), we’re likely to be enticed to do business with you. Straying from your credit union’s brand in the name of connecting with Millennials will only lead to service inconsistencies and a weakened brand experience, guaranteeing members of ALL generations will be heading for the door.

Liz Garster

Liz Garster

Liz Garster is AVP of Marketing & Client Services at TwoScore, a firm dedicated to helping credit unions achieve their strategic goals through marketing. Working in credit unions for over ... Web: Details