Customizing Your Financial Services Marketing to Customer Life Stages

In today’s crowded financial services landscape, every company is asking the same question:

How do I differentiate my organization from my competitors in order to acquire new customers?

It was only a few short years ago when financial institutions were using technological advancements as a way to differentiate and acquire new customers. Today, online banking and mobile deposit capabilities are expected as the norm. So, as technology continues to become a commodity, financial service institutions are left with only one solution to help drive customer acquisitions: focusing on the customer relationship. Basically, you need to create personal connections that provide unique value to your customer.

But how do you do this in a way that sets you apart from the rest?

First, create stronger target segments and don’t rely on a one-size-fits-all marketing approach to drive customer acquisition. The financial needs of an 18-year-old are far different than a 65-year-old, and while most institutions understand that, their marketing efforts don’t always reflect it. So, your marketing strategy must be tied to a consumer’s life journey and the various stages that most individuals will experience along the way. Once you start to target consumers based on their lifestyle, you can address their individual pain points and showcase exactly what your financial institution does to help solve their specific problems. Keep in mind, everyone offers loans, credit card options and financial advice, so focus on the advantages of your institution beyond just the product solution.

There are universal life events that a consumer may experience over time. Although these life events happen at varying ages for each individual, the likelihood is that each customer will experience a large majority of these events at some point in their personal journey. These expected life events range from opening your first credit card to paying student loans, saving and buying your first house, getting married, having children, all the way to investing for retirement. Mapping your marketing strategy tactically to such life stages will help better determine when your customer may be more primed to receive targeted messaging based on relevant life trigger points. This will drive opportunities to provide unique solutions to fit their unique needs.

We categorize these stages into the following categories:

  • Life Stage 1: Teenagers – Initiate Banking Relationship
  • Life Stage 2: Single Adults
  • Life Stage 3: Childless Couples
  • Life Stage 4: Young Families
  • Life Stage 5: Established Families
  • Life Stage 6: Empty Nesters
  • Life Stage 7: Mature Adults – Retirement
To give an example of how these stages can affect marketing implications, let’s dive deeper into Life Stage 2: Single Adults.

Single Adults Overview

This individual is just beginning their career. They’re no longer dependent on their parents and are now experiencing their first set of bills – college loans begin, apartment rent and utilities are due, new cars are purchased, groceries are needed, etc. It can be an overwhelming time for these young adults as they begin independently navigating their financial life. While this group can be viewed as one that is not a profit center for the bank, they’re seeking the most advice and have the largest potential to help your bottom line in the long run. With 58% of people stating their main reason for staying with a financial institution as “it’s easier to stay where I am,” ensuring that your brand is meeting the needs of this group early in their financial journey is imperative to long-term success. Therefore, aligning your brand as their holistic financial partner now is likely to drive continued business for many years.

How to Implement These Learnings

At this point, most of these individuals have a pre-existing relationship with a bank, but have yet to begin investing. This creates an advantage for their current bank to proactively educate the consumer on investment options and strategies for long-term success. Additionally, this audience is looking and seeking trusted individuals who can give them advice.

Here are a few strategies to consider implementing:

  • Seminars and educational classes – Utilize your experienced advisors by setting up an event to showcase their knowledge to your targeted audience. Create a series of seminars aimed at helping the next generation plan for the future.
  • Tell your unique stories – Interview your bankers as a way to learn positive customer testimonial stories that can be leveraged on various marketing materials. Tell it from their perspective and highlight unique ways your organization and its employees have supported and solved customer problems.
  • Create a stronger online presence and resource library – The first place this audience will go to for information is online. Therefore, it’s imperative to have, at a minimum, a strong reference guide or you will not be considered. To create a more meaningful connection, create a blog series of educational articles helping to explain that your organization can help solve this generation’s common financial problems. This tool can also help your internal sales team, consider topic for articles like, what to ask an investor, why you should start saving early and who to ask for advice.
  • Be persistent – This audience is going to seek information online first and then may consider coming in. They are consistently on the go and are always multi-tasking, so ensure you are developing a strong digital advertising strategy that helps to retarget this user base across all digital and social channels.

Finally, keep in mind to always be yourself. In banking and finance, it’s difficult to differentiate. Even with strong rates, without building a personality and brand dedicated to solving customer problems, you run the risk of not converting customers for the long run.

Key Takeaway: Providing the tools and education needed in this life point of “first salary, first set of bills” is critical in creating a trusted partnership.

As you think through your brand’s marketing efforts and the seasonality of corresponding plans, develop a campaign that speaks to the individual challenges that your customers are facing. By strategically positioning your brand as one that’s with the consumer for each life stage, you can create a strong, lasting partnership and provide a service that feels different than the rest of the competition.

Could your financial institution use a marketing boost? Feel free to reach out, and we’ll be happy to talk shop.

Mike Stevens is the Executive Director of Strategic Planning & Account Services at GYK Antler. His passion is simple, helping companies and brands achieve their business and marketing goals and objectives. A strategist at heart, Mike’s 13+ year career at GYK Antler has allowed him to work on brands including: PayPal, United Bank, Sweet Baby Ray’s, Stonyfield, Cedar’s, Bauer Hockey, and Timberland.
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