Financial Trends

Millennials will Dictate Financial Service Trends of the Future

Millennials–or Generation Y–have officially surpassed Baby Boomers to become the largest group of consumers. Defined as being born between the years 1982 and 2000, Millennials currently make up 26% of the U.S. population (compared to Baby Boomers’ 24%).

Understanding that this population growth trend will continue over the next five years – Millennials will account for 1/3 of the country’s adult population by the year 2020 – financial service institutions (FSIs) are now tasked with adjusting their business models and overall marketing strategies to appeal to Gen Y.

However, marketing to Millennials is no easy task. In fact, one New York Times article postured that, “Many young adults are proving particularly baffling to marketers and researchers,” also citing that this generation does not take well to traditional marketing strategies. On the whole, Gen Y actually prefers to seek out their own brands, rather than having brands market directly to them. How then, can FSIs gain traction with this seemingly impossible-to-reach generation? The answer can be found in the services and products that FSIs provide to their customers.

When observing the way Millennials go about their banking, three major trends emerge:

TREND #1 – The preference for online banking versus in-branch banking.

It’s no surprise that tech-savvy Gen Y’ers would rather do the majority of their banking online, including opening bank accounts, transferring money both within and outside of their institutions, paying bills, getting information about products and services, and depositing checks. Those aged 18-34 do more of their banking online than any other age group, and prefer mobile banking over utilizing a computer.

FSI Response:

FSIs should see this online banking predisposition as an opportunity to capture the Millennial audience. Mobile apps stand out as the #1 way that FSIs can improve the Gen Y online banking experience – increasing app functionality and offering additional features are recommended. Millennials are all about convenience, so it stands to reason that adding mobile app features like voice command banking, smartphone photo bill pay, and cardless cash withdrawals will attract this generation.

TREND #2 – The desire for more technology-driven banking solutions.

Going hand in hand with the Millennial online banking trend is this generation’s desire to have their FSI create a more technology-based banking experience. This desire is borne out of Gen Y’s preference for self-serving: they want to be able to do it all themselves, from self-checkout at the grocery store to applying for a loan at a smart ATM through their banking institution.

FSI Response:

FSIs can appeal to the more adventurous Millennial banking customer by providing technology-based banking solutions such as express banking kiosks, instant message customer service, teller video-conferencing, and smart ATMs. These technologies are not meant to replace the human-to-human interaction that tellers provide, but rather to augment the overall banking experience.

TREND #3 – The expectation that FSIs will communicate via social media channels.

One of the key defining traits of Millennials is their level of engagement on social media. More and more, Gen Y is coming to expect a high amount of social activity from their FSI. Millennials use an FSI’s social media page to learn more about the institution, determine the brand’s personality, and air grievances. In fact, more than 20% of those aged 18-34 looked up or talked about an FSI on social media before they became customers.

FSI Response:

Since Gen Y has come to expect a social media presence from their FSIs, banking institutions should embrace social media platforms as an additional way to add to the customer banking experience. Beyond just a quick response to customer grievances, however, banking institutions should also be prepared to engage with their customers on a more emotional level. FSIs can run customer contests, showcase the brand’s community involvement, and comment on current news through their social media platforms.

However FSIs choose to target Millennials, one thing is clear: banking institutions cannot afford to overlook this dynamic age group, or the large impact Gen Y will continue to have on financial service trends in the years to come.

MINTEL, The Future of Banking in the U.S., January 2015

Social Reach

Building an Integrated Trade Show Program: Leveraging Your Social Reach

A few months ago, we published a blog post titled, “Building an Integrated Trade Show Program: A New Approach to an Old Standby.” In the post, I shared a high-level overview on how implementing an integrated strategy that incorporates marketing, public relations, social media, and sales is critical to connecting and building relationships with current and prospective customers at trade shows and events.

I can’t stress enough the power of having a social media strategy in place when it comes to attending your next trade show. Looking to promote a speaking session? Hosting a contest? Want to drive attendees to your booth? The opportunities available for a brand to expand its social reach are unlimited when leveraged with a trade show program.

Select Your Platform

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube—those are just a few of the platforms to consider when creating a social presence during a trade show. Select a platform where attendees already are engaged and where your customer base is currently active. Do a little research to find out which social platform the trade show is utilizing. For example, if the trade show has its own Twitter handle, you should sync your strategy with that platform, since attendees already will be active and following for the latest information distributed by the event coordinators. As always, make sure the selected platform makes sense for your brand and is a tool that can be used to reach current and prospective customers.

Content is King, but #DistributionIsQueen

Attendees aren’t looking for a sales pitch. They are looking for brands to provide value through content—and social media is the perfect vehicle to do that. Creating original content is essential to amplifying your brand’s thought leadership during the trade show. Content can come in a variety of different formats, including links to press release announcements, blog posts drafted during educational conference sessions, booth information and booth photos, demo details, or contests and giveaways.

It’s a common practice for trade shows that are active on social media to have a custom hashtag for attendees and exhibitors to create and follow conversations. Including the trade show hashtag in social posts is a great way to distribute content so that it reaches trade show attendees. This provides another introduction opportunity for your brand. Individuals filtering through the content aggregated with the hashtag have a chance to view your post or content in an organic manner.

Drive Engagement

Not only are hashtags great for distribution, they also are key for driving engagement. Hashtags are another way to monitor and jump into trending conversations. Monitoring hashtag conversations pre-trade show and jumping in with relevant content is another way to build social momentum before the event kick-off. Creating and promoting a custom hashtag specific to your brand is a way to drive engagement with your brand. Hosting a booth contest? Consider including a social component that drives attendees to participate in a contest by using one of the platforms (i.e. Twitter or Instagram) as the entry method and include a custom hashtag for a chance for attendees to win a prize.

Target with Paid Social Media

Paid promotion of social media can support a brand’s social presence and content reach during trade shows and events. Although this requires additional funding, paid social media can be a very successful layered tactic to your social media strategy. Objectives can include increasing the frequency of a brand’s social interaction with its target audience, driving clicks, and increasing page likes or followers, among other call-to-action objectives.

Looking for additional support at your next trade show? At Martino Flynn, we work with our clients to develop integrated trade show programs, offering support for everything from strategic counseling and content development to on-site execution.

To learn more about our trade show marketing capabilities, call us at 585.421.0100.

Direct Mail Testing

Common mistakes in direct mail A/B testing

In order to keep your direct mail campaign working to its fullest potential, constant testing is of the utmost importance. A/B testing is one way to test—and if done well, it can inform changes to your current direct mail kits and ensure that you are producing the most effective creative. However, if it’s done incorrectly, A/B testing can yield false positives and cause you to go down the wrong path. Here are three common A/B testing mistakes to avoid.

Not establishing a specific and measurable goal

When deciding to conduct a direct mail A/B test, you should establish what your goal for the test is before the test starts. Is it a higher response rate? Increased sales? More profitable sales? Your goal must take into account all of the metrics that matter to you. If the goal of the test is to find the kit that gets the best response, but the kit that produces the best response also produces lower dollar sales, should that kit still be the winner? Your test strategy should be comprehensive and look at all aspects of the campaign. When a clear goal is not established up front, it is more likely to choose a winning kit based solely on up-front or per-piece costs.

Testing too many variables at once

The variable that you are testing can be as small as a headline change or as large as a new kit format. But, only one variable should be tested at a time. If several variables are being tested at once, it will be challenging to accurately determine which variable yielded the better result. Was it the new kit format or the revised copy that caught the reader’s attention? Could that same copy in your control format have beaten your control?

Don’t test variables for the sake of testing. Most things can be tested, but that doesn’t mean that they should be. Variables should be selected strategically based on the established campaign goal.

Ignoring outside factors

Always be aware of marketing efforts that are going on simultaneously within your company, what your competitors are doing, and other major events in your mailing zones. Obviously, dropping direct mail three days prior to Christmas is not ideal, but many other more subtle factors must also be considered.

Some other key things to remember when testing direct mail are:

  • Sample size matters
  • Bad lists or bad list splits can skew data
  • Don’t call a test too early

If your control wins the first A/B test, that does not signal that you have found the perfect direct mail kit. Testing is a continuous process and there is always something that can be improved upon. Finding out what that something is, is the goal.

To learn more about Martino Flynn’s testing capabilities, please contact Heather Riexinger at

Generation Z

Generation Z: 72 million and counting

Who comes after the last “Millennial?” In 2014, the last of the Millennial generation turned 18. And while Millennials may be the most researched generation in history, marketers are already beginning to pay attention to a new group, dubbed “Generation Z.”

Generation Z represents the first generation of the 21st century, and is comprised of America’s youth–those aged 2 to 19. This diverse group is already making an impact with marketers, especially the sweet spot of tweens and teens aged 11-16.

Here are three facts you need to know about Generation Z:

They may not have a job–but they do have spending power

Living at home has its benefits for Gen Z, as their parent or guardian buys them what they need–and, often, what they want as well. With parents taking care of the basics, kids are free to spend their own money (which typically comes from an allowance) as pure discretionary income. According to Mintel, it is estimated that children aged 5-14 account for $43 billion in direct spending, and exert a strong influence over $200 billion worth of sales[i].

Two screens are too few

From my three-year-old niece who already knows how to FaceTime (and has her own iPhone!), to tweens who are using social media for school research projects, connectivity is more than a way of life–it is their life. On average, Gen Z uses five or more screen devices daily.

Diversity is normal

Generation Z is the last generation where Caucasians will comprise a majority in the population, and those in Gen Z are more likely than Millennials and Gen X to have a racially diverse social circle. And beyond racial diversity, Gen Z is growing up in an age of global diversity. In fact, 26% say they would need to fly to visit most of their friends on social networks.

So what does this mean for marketers?

First, you can’t afford to ignore this generation–its spending power alone is enough to make marketers pay attention. However, proceed with caution when targeting your ads and ad spend, for while an 11-year-old may be responsive to a TV commercial, a three-year-old may not be as responsive. For many products and brands, a mix of marketing to both parents and children may be the recipe for success.

Second, remember that this generation is overwhelmed and inundated with marketing messages, most likely across all of their devices. Attention spans are even shorter when users are multi-tasking, so use breakthrough creative to capture attention, or consider interruptive methods such as online takeovers or non-skippable videos to truly “force” a user to watch. While these may come at a higher media placement cost, the extra spend can pay huge returns if you can capture share of Gen Z’s spend.

Lastly, remember to be respectful. Talk to Gen Z members in their own language (symbols and emoticons), but don’t talk down to them. Find them on their social networks (YouTube, Snapchat, etc.), but don’t intrude on their space too much (this is the generation that is leaving Facebook because it “tracks” you). Reaching out to Generation Z in an authentic, respectful way will help ensure that your brand resonates with this group.

To learn more about Martino Flynn’s consumer marketing programs, please contact Rose Feor at 585.421.0100.

[i] MINTEL, Marketing to Kids and Tweens, May 2014

Business to Doctor (B2D)

Are you ready for B2D?

Any marketer can define B2C and B2B communications. But how comfortable are you with B2D?

B2D is my shorthand for business-to-doctor communications. (In this case, “doctor” is used to represent any medical practitioner or administrator.) It’s a specialized field, with some unique challenges.

In many respects, effective B2D is like any targeted marketing communications campaign: you need to get the right message to the right people through the right channels. To do that effectively, though, you need to first understand the distinguishing features of the B2D world. Here are three of them:

Doctors are very literal. The kind of wildly abstract concepts that make for great consumer ads will often be met with confusion in the B2D space. If you’re talking about a surgical product, you’ll likely need to show a surgical setting. That said, doctors are people, too. So it is possible to play to the emotional side of your product’s benefits, and even do so in a clever way. We once created an ad that featured a surgeon with an “I <3 ” tattoo on his arm. Not only did it have stopping power, it appealed to the reader’s sense of loyalty for what we were promoting. We then substantiated that loyalty with key facts and figures. Which leads us to the next point.

Doctors need data. Maybe all doctors are originally from Missouri, because “show me the data” is always on the tip of their tongues. As a result, declarations without proof will be dismissed. Vague assertions will be severely questioned. So you need to give them the facts in order to make your case. Doctors may not always want to read the clinical studies behind your claims, but they do need to be shown that they exist. Consider providing clinical summaries in an easy-to-digest format to more conveniently give them what they want. Those studies will also help you with the third B2D distinguishing feature.

You can’t fool the regulatory reviewers. You can try to be as clever as you want, but when your copy goes through regulatory review, it will be scrutinized. It will be edited. It might even be decimated. There are a few useful tricks—like prefacing marketing claims with qualifiers such as “could possibly”, “is designed to”, “may potentially help with”, etc. But the bottom line is this: don’t say it if you can’t substantiate it. To help things run as smoothly as possible, take the time upfront to create a messaging matrix and have it approved by regulatory. Then, every piece you develop from there on is more likely to be a winner in everyone’s eyes.

Just remember: B2D “could possibly” be challenging. But it “may potentially” be very rewarding, too.

To learn more about Martino Flynn’s healthcare marketing capabilities, please call 585.421.0100.

The Official Blog of Martino Flynn