Two 26-year-old gentlemen, Charles Hands and Marcus Howard, recently started a company, Engage Millennials, that helps minority-owned businesses develop products and services to attract millennial customers. Engage Millennials had its start working with the second oldest minority-owned bank in the country, Mechanics and Farmers Bank, headquartered in North Carolina. The President of the National Bankers Association, Michael Grant, is confident that Engage Millennials’ work in North Carolina will serve as a model for all black-owned banks. The company knows that attracting millennials will be essential for minority-owned businesses to survive the future. Thus, they work with businesses in industries that have historically been successful, but are declining because of the new ways millennials are consuming products and services.
Their method of mobilizing millennials to support the black-owned banks is rather unique as they use an app called GroupMe. Hands and Howard asked to be added to a variety of GroupMe chats and influence the conversation geared toward supporting black-owned banks. “It is a topic that millennials are not talking about, and when the conversation is introduced, a lot of the chat members are intrigued and began to share their thoughts,” says Hands. Howard adds, “Once everyone is engaged, we teach them about the black-owned banks, and encourage all of the chat members to transfer their money or open up accounts with their local black-owned bank.” The duo believes that there are a lot of GroupMe chats that lack seriousness and intention. They want to use their company to show that GroupMe can be a powerful tool to mobilize masses of people. Engage Millennials hopes to connect with the CEO of GroupMe to help develop a feature that facilitates the mobilization of everyone in a GroupMe chat for a particular cause.
The Wall Street Journal highlights that the number of black-owned banks have steadily declined for the past 15 years; it is projected that by 2028 there will only be seven black-owned banks in existence. The bankers agreed that attracting the next generation of customers was important for their survival, and that Engage Millennials would be instrumental in making that happen. With their team of experts — in social media, millennial marketing, and millennial strategic planning — coupled with their unique method of mobilizing large numbers of people with GroupMe, Engage Millennials may be able to prevent the extinction of black-owned banks in United States.