Apparently, despite their numbers, sightings of millennials1 in banks these days are akin to catching a glimpse of a rare species of bird.

When it comes to banking, this much-studied generation is both similar to and different from the Baby Boomers who precede them. According to a Forbes survey of its 30 Under 30 nominees last year, they are ambitious; owning a home and potentially a business are important to them. Eliminating debt is a priority. And more than half say their biggest financial regret is not saving enough money, something many soon-to-be retired 50- and 60-year-olds can relate to.

On the other hand, they bank differently than other generations, with 52% preferring to use their smartphones and 38% their banks’ websites, Forbes says. “The real differences . . . (are) the communication (both tone, frequency, and media) and the technologies used to meet the consumer’s financial needs,” says a recent online article in The Financial Brand.

ConvergentStat6.14-04.pngSo, if mortgage, loan or financial planning needs finally lure millennials into a bank, how do you get them to visit more frequently, especially since 90% of new products are bought and sold there, rather than online? Digital signage on display in branches can help. Here’s how.

First and foremost, the content of digital signage needs to be authentic and meaningful. Those approaching, entering and (hopefully) enjoying retirement tend to focus on security in their finances and financial institutions. Keeping as much money as safe as possible for as long as possible is important to them, and they generally trust their banks to do that.

However, belief in institutions doesn’t come as easily for millennials. “So where does all this corporate distrust originate?” asks Matthew Tyson, who writes about business and marketing for the Huffington Post. “Perhaps it’s because they grew up in an age of social media and transparency, where everyone and everything is knowable. Maybe it’s because they’re buried in student debt. Or perhaps it’s because their formative years were overshadowed by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.”

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter,” he concludes. “What matters is that they’re not moved by flashy ads, big promises, and ‘wow’ factor. They want authentic messages, authentic brands, and authentic interactions.”

Bringing us to our second point: storytelling about your brand is important. Storytelling is a fundamental branding and marketing technique that is back in the spotlight because of the millennial audience. They grew up with the Internet and want interesting, dynamic content. There is nothing more compelling to them than a true story: one specific enough in detail to be authentic and yet universal enough so that many can see themselves in it. Millennials spend their time creating their own stories on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube; yours better be every bit as real and as interesting to them.


And that, to our next point, means putting a face on your brand. The math on this is simple: real people = real stories. And real stories are ones millennials trust.

Featuring your customers and their stories in your digital signage program works. If a customer speaks up for you, you’re doing a good job for them. Such endorsement is critical for a generation constantly checking in with others for their thoughts and opinions. Shining a spotlight on employees works, too.  With that, you’re saying your bank is more than just a name on a sign. It’s run by real people who live and play in the community. Again, such authenticity speaks to millennials.

As Matthew Tyson puts it, “Like two parents harassing their daughter’s new boyfriend, millennials need to know you before they’ll trust you. They want transparency. They want brands to interact. Simply put, they want to know we’re dealing with real humans, not faceless corporations.”

And, finally, tie your content back to the community. According to an AdAge article, two-thirds of millennials who responded to a recent survey from insurer Aflac said they are likely to invest in a company well-known for its corporate social responsibility program.

It will come as no surprise that companies must do this in an authentic way. Millennials will quickly sniff out an organization that is supporting causes with only the bottom dollar in mind. One bank, Umpqua, stands out for its marketing to millennials. For example, the company pays employees up to 40 hours each year to help youth and community organizations, and its website features a counter with the number of volunteer hours their people have logged so far in 2016. That type of information could just as easily be featured on digital signage.

By now, you’ve probably noticed that we haven’t once mentioned how technology factors into your digital signage. That’s because content is the thing to focus on, not hardware and software. Digital signage is just the means by which you deliver your important messages – an effective means for the first generation raised on technology, but a means nevertheless. A bank can’t say it’s easy and desirable to deal with; it needs to show it. Content needs to look sophisticated for tech-savvy millennials, but messages need to be clear, simple – and real.

1 Millennials have passed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released in April by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, defined as those ages 18-34 in 2015, number 75.4 million, compared to 74.9 million Baby Boomers.