How did a white, 74-year-old, Jewish man from Vermont become the face and voice of American Millennials?

For Bernie, it was easy and you can take a lesson or two from how he approached politics to start a revolution.

Me and BernieAuthenticity: Bernie was uncombed and believable. He was a “say it as it is” (without insulting all of humanity) person. There is not the feeling that Bernie crafted his message based on polling – but rather, said what he truly believed.

For You: Your brand should be authentic above all else. No one can “do you” like you do. Know your corporate personality and own it.

Trust: Bernie had no need for the Koch brothers’ money. He relied on more than 7 million individual contributions averaging $27 each. He was a “man of the people,” not of the corporations (only 2% of donations from Wall Street).

For You: Lately, Wells Fargo is helping here. People simply have a distrust of big corporations. Yet, just 5 banks control more than 45% of the U.S. total assets. If you can show you can be trusted, you can get your piece of that pie.

Respect: There were no scandals, no drama, no law suits, no groping. A February LuntzGlobal survey of 1,000 Americans aged 18-26 showed that the demo would rather have dinner with Bernie than with Beyonce, Kanye West and Justin Bieber.

For You: Among Millennials, if you can demonstrate a genuine understanding, empathy and care for them, they will respect you.

Platform: Bernie has been a champion of the oppressed for his entire career. His stance on free healthcare, free college, reducing global warming and less war spoke to an audience who grew up in the recession, only knowing crazy-high student loan debt, living check-to-check and the U.S. dropping bombs on the Middle East. They are a highly educated group that looks beyond our borders to see that Bernie’s ideas do, in fact, work in other countries. They have little faith in our government and would be willing to learn from the world’s best practices.

For You: Just like Bernie created a platform to speak to the needs of Millennials, you should craft products and services that are tailored and marketed to their needs and their unique perspective.

Inspiration:  Despite the world they have grown up in, Millennials are not a gloom and doom generation. They are entrepreneurs and dreamers who expect to be successful. They are not making excuses, instead they are making things happen.

For You: This group expects to succeed. Help them do it. Teach them how to live by a budget. Help them understand what it takes to start a business. Be the driving factor behind their financial optimism.

Feel the BirdieSmart Marketing: Most of Bernie’s campaign was direct response. More email and digital, less network and radio. The message was crafted to, and resonated with, their Millennial supporters, counting on the nation’s largest voting bubble. And it worked, Sanders was able to stay stride for stride with the Clinton machine in donations. While Hillary relied, primarily, on large corporate donations, Bernie was gathering an army of one-off contributions – and voters.

Being mostly digital, the Bernie campaign was also incredibly agile. As news broke or situations changed, the Sanders campaign was the first to market. A perfect example is the time when a bird landed on Bernie’s podium during a stump-speech. The next morning, “Feel the Bird” messages were out.

For You: You may need to adjust the focus of your marketing. Consider moving your budget and resources to more direct response methods. Millennials, more than their Boomer counterparts, respond best to social and online advertising. In fact, a recent MarketingSherpa survey shows they prefer it. They also respond incredibly well to email.

So, maybe your bank or credit union is older. Maybe your branches are a bit unkempt. Maybe your service, products and processes aren’t as polished as the large banks. Great! You sound just like Bernie Sanders. Maybe you are perfectly built for Millennials.

In addition to being a strategic consultant for community banks and credit unions, MarketMatch also has nationally and internationally requested speakers. Contact us to bring our marketing ideas to your institution or next conference.

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