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Marketing to College Grads for Financial Firms

DATE PUBLISHED: August 05, 2014

When it comes to marketing to college grads, the goal isn't to simply introduce your financial brand to young adults on social media. Anyone can do that. As we all know, young adults grew up on social media. It isn't exactly difficult to figure out that they use most major social networks. The trick, rather, is to find the right demographic of young adults who, thanks to effective marketing, will covert. In order to make this happen, marketing managers need to — you guessed it — follow the money.

marketing to college gardsWhy LinkedIn's Demographic Base Matters

By "follow the money" we mean LinkedIn. College graduates embarking on their careers will likely be a savvy bunch and as a result, have a LinkedIn profile. Furthermore, research suggests that LinkedIn users are more likely to be college educated than those on other networks. The following research comes from Pew:

LinkedIn use is highest among the 30-49 (27%) and 50-64 (24%) age groups, and is also far above-average among those with a college degree (38%). LinkedIn use trends upwards alongside household income (HHI), reaching 38% among those with HHI of at least $75k, more than triple the rate for those with less than $30k in HHI (12%). LinkedIn use is also higher among the employed (27%) than the unemployed (12%), and is virtually ignored by the rural population (8%).

Note that LinkedIn isn't the leader amongst 18-29-year-olds — that would be Facebook. Nonetheless, the fact that LinkedIn users have college degrees and disposable income suggests they should be prime targets for your campaign. (Check out the whole Pew report here; it's a must-read.)

Experiment With Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

This brings us to Facebook. As we've recently noted, Facebook's new algorithm makes it difficult for brands to organically get on user feeds. Therefore, financial firms should, at the very least, experiment with paid advertising on the platform. But again, make sure your message is attuned to the demographic profile of Facebook users and your own firm's buyer personas.

Firms should also consider Instagram, which is most popular among 18-29-year-olds (37%), and is right around average among 30-49-year-olds (18%). The photo-centric element of the network can allow banks to articulate their brand in a casual, fun and — dare we say it — hip way that can appeal to college graduates. Lastly, we've also seen how financial services firms have effectively used Twitter to reach customers and prospects.

What's the Right Message? Some Suggestions

Your marketing message will be dictated by your just-graduated-college buyer personas and their goals and challenges, which can include:

  • Paying down college debt

  • Starting a retirement fund

  • Saving for a new home

  • Saving for a new car

  • Financially supporting a parent or sibling

Naturally, a grad who just landed a high-paying job will have more disposable income than one who's living in their parent's basement, so make sure your personas acknowledge these differences. Which brings us to our final point: your firm already markets to college graduates and your team has a deep understanding of their needs and concerns. Therefore, the challenge is to simply align these messages based on their demographics and the social networks they're most likely to use.

So now it's your turn: how is your brand marketing to college grads? What social networks are the most utilized? What types of products resonate most with this demographic?