Secure Marketspace with Mike D'Agostino

Customer Innovation and the Art of Reaching Generation Y

Is Your Financial Institution Marketing to Today's Biggest Populace?

Let's face it, the goal of any business is to make money -and grow a base of customers. So where does a banking institution find new customers?

November we attended the BAI Retail Delivery & Conference Expo in Las Vegas, where the major theme was "customer innovation." We sat in on keynote presentations, one-off training sessions, vendor presentations, and spoke with many financial institution representatives. The theme remained the same - how do we bring on new customers? One answer was to target an upcoming generation, different than any other in history, with unique and innovative marketing approaches.

According to Wikipedia, Generation Y consists of people born between 1983 and 1997. During this 15-year time span, the number of births reached over 4 million for the first time since 1964 - roughly the end of the famous post-war Baby Boom. This makes Generation Y the most populous demographic living in the U.S. right now, and thus an excellent source of new banking customers.

But how do you market to Generation Y?

From my experience (coming from one generation ahead of Generation Y), this constituency can be summed up in one word: Social. Because they have come of age using the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging, everything is about being connected and communicating. Ease of use and efficiency are paramount to this generation of high-speed, multi-tasking individuals.

Many of us have had to transition to the Internet and the privacy concerns it brings. Not so, Generation Y. They grew up with the Internet and constant communication. They do not know what life was like before identities were at stake online. They do not have a concept of being "disconnected" or what it means to have a completely private life.

Because of this, Generation Y has already accepted that they have lost their privacy. It is a given that something they post in haste on will be there, forever - archived on the Wayback Machine ( and copied uncountable times as servers create backups.

Security is also something that is a given with Generation Y. The Internet and its systems are no longer a new technology, meaning many of the initial loopholes and vulnerabilities associated with "Web 1.0" should be a thing of the past.

This is a demanding, volatile demographic. More mature customers may hesitate to make a move. But with Generation Y, if you show any faults -- you could be losing a valuable customer quite quickly.

So how do you reach Generation Y? Without getting into specific marketing tactics, the challenge is to meet them on their own playing ground. Don't expect to send a stuffy letter to them and get a response - it takes too long to read. Is your idea of customer innovation converting traditional paper-based forms to online versions? For Generation Y, that is absolute minimum.

Embrace "Web 2.0", social media websites such as and varying technologies like cell phones and text and instant messaging. Dedicate marketing campaigns to utilize emerging media outlets. Get creative, tell the truth and get to the point. And above all, realize that this generation is not the same mature customer base waiting in line at 8 a.m. when the doors open, counting every penny in their account.

Once this distinction becomes ingrained in your marketing efforts to Generation Y, you'll open your doors to a whole new constituency of prospects.

What's your experience with Generation Y? Share your insights with us.

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