Every marketer and their mother has spent the past few years talking about understanding, connecting, engaging, and selling to the estimated 80 million Millennials in the U.S. Even in the financial services space, where a large percentage of Millennials aren’t necessarily an ideal target, bank marketers are starting to jump on the bandwagon.

Kevin Tynan, SVP of Marketing at Chicago-based Liberty Bank for Savings, recently wrote 5 Ways Liberty Bank Engages Millennial Consumers, offering creative ideas ranging from a Saturday night Taco Crawl to a Family Fall Fest event that successfully enticed Millennial parents and their kids into the bank.

We’re always interested in fresh ideas, so we reached out to Kevin to learn more about Liberty Bank’s approach. Kevin graciously agreed to chat, and our conversation covered unexpected ground.

Forge Worldwide: You refer to Millennials as a coveted segment for bank marketers. Why do banks – or why should banks – be so interested in connecting with this audience?

Kevin Tynan: To tell you the truth, I think we should proceed with caution when going after Millennials. Sometimes, the idea of marketing to Millennials is somewhat of a short cut to actual quality marketing work. Nothing actually starts at 21 and ends at 35. It’s important to start cultivating “younger customers,” but banks should develop a marketing program that appeals to a number of different segments for the right reasons.

FW: Give me an example.

KT: We’re actually targeting specific segments within a Millennial audience. For example, there’s a hip neighborhood in Chicago called Logan. The people that live in Logan are all over the place. One 30-year-old could be a wealthy lawyer; another could be a barista. We look at criteria such as income level and children in the home to determine if they’re a good audience for us or not.

FW: Speaking of Logan, Liberty Bank sponsored a Taco Crawl in that neighborhood last year, with the $15 ticket price including not only tacos from five area restaurants, but an event t-shirt available for pickup at the bank. Was this effort primarily geared at Millennials?

KT: Yes. This effort was really built to reach a broader audience of younger people. We also wanted to do something that would create local interest and really demonstrate our commitment to the community.

FW: And it’s clear your commitment to the neighborhood goes beyond grub. Liberty’s “Logan Squares” t-shirts were inspired by a neighborhood team from the early days of baseball and sold to benefit a local non-profit. I’m impressed with how you managed to combine great design, our love of all things retro, hyper-local history, and a great cause into targeted marketing. Can you tell us a bit more about the thinking behind that initiative?

KT: The objective here was to convey that we are a neighborhood institution and differentiate ourselves from the National banks. There are several big banks in our footprint and we wanted to demonstrate that we’ve been in this community for a long time – and do it in an interesting and authentic way. Creating these t-shirts of this somewhat unknown baseball team from the area was a fun way to do it. Plus, younger people take pride in where they live so this campaign aligns with their values in that sense.

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FW: Banking is a notoriously traditional category. Very few bank brands break the mold and do interesting, genuinely consumer-relevant campaigns like the ones you’re doing at Liberty. What advice would you offer your bank marketing counterparts in terms of moving initiatives like these through organizations that aren’t typically marketing-driven?

KT: The broader issue is that the banking industry doesn’t typically appreciate marketing. Often, bank marketing directors don’t have the strategic experience necessary to develop a strong a marketing program. A survey I read recently said that there is 1 marketer for every $400M in assets (on average) in the banking industry. That right there starts to tell us why there’s a lack of innovation and creativity in the space.

FW: Any final words of wisdom to your fellow bank marketers?

KT: Keep in mind that an innovative marketing program isn’t just about being different, it’s about clearly identifying priorities and developing a plan to accomplish those things. Marketing activities need to be purposeful and shouldn’t be democratized. Strong marketing uses research on the front lines to find out the truth as a starting point. From there, you can take those insights and create a program that will genuinely connect with people – of any age.

Kevin Tynan is SVP Marketing at Liberty Bank for Savings in Chicago, and an authority on strategic planning and community bank marketing. Formerly, as principal of Tynan Consulting, he developed award-winning marketing programs for clients in finance, healthcare, politics, and higher education. The author of two books and numerous articles, you can reach Kevin via email.


Forge’s Financial Marketing Group is exclusively focused on driving brand awareness and preference, new account openings, deposit growth, and cross-sell opportunities. To learn more about Forge or our Financial Marketing Group, email Jesse Strawbridge.