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Financial Services

The Added Value of Rewards

1 Aug, 2008 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

A new era of financial service products offer benefits and relevance for both merchants and consumers and are also key players in direct response campaigns.

Horizon mapped out a route that included bank branch parking lots, beaches and neighborhoods. A Webster ambassador was always onboard to answer questions from parents as the kids received free ice cream. Simultaneously, to get the word out about the ice cream truck, Horizon initiated chats in online social networks and blogs.

"It was logical to incorporate interactive components into this campaign since it was a spread-the-word event," says Rob Kalman, brand director, Horizon Media. "We interviewed branch managers and took those video clips and embedded them online."

Videos were posted on Facebook. Kalman says that these grassroots campaigns working simultaneously with online components show just how far interactive advertising has come. "Back when Internet and interactive advertising was beginning, you couldn't troll down to a local community level," he says. "But now you can get down to a town's Web site and newspaper, and hit readers right there."

Esurance is another company that relies heavily on different digital media for marketing and sales. The company launched local TV in mid-2004 with the animated icon "Erin Esurance" and launched national TV late in 2005. "Despite the rumored demise of TV, we find TV continues to be a great megaphone and gives brand credibility" says Howard.

He adds there was almost no brand awareness before the television spots. However, Esurance is highly reliant on the Internet. Between 1999 and 2004, Esurance used online marketing almost exclusively. "We've remained at the forefront of online video advertising, including being a charter partner last year in the launch of the NBC/Fox online joint venture Hulu," says Howard.

As more people spend more time on the Web, being a direct writer of auto insurance with an online focus, Esurance is well positioned to take advantage of the shift in consumer behavior.


A Floundering Economy


Even in an economic downturn, companies in the financial services industry are finding ways to increase sales and creatively advertise their services. The team at Facecard says its product is a great way to help consumers in a tough time because merchants can add value to members' cards. "I think this economy is the perfect time for Facecard," says Constance Baker, director of marketing at edo. "We're seeing a lot of adoption beyond our target market because you can't overdraft, there's no credit card debt and you can set a budget."

The card is also a less expensive way to for marketers to build sales in tough economic times. Caldwell says that digitizing most of Facecard's DR marketing has helped reduce the cost of the advertising model. "What we've done on software has saved merchants on budgets that normally go to radio ads and printing costs," he says.

The auto insurance companies are definitely feeling the effects of the economy because new car buying and the search for new auto policies are down. However, Howard says that marketing spend in the auto insurance category has continued to grow exponentially during the past few years, even as the market only grows in the single digits each year. "There are no signs of spend slowing down, so it's critical that our advertising stands out among the pack and makes an impact with our target consumer," says Howard.

Finally, The Credit Exchange has seen a boost in business during the recent economic woes. "The credit situation for America is only going to get worse, so business is on the rise," says Aglio. "That's why we felt it was time to start branding ourselves. Some of our lead vendors do run commercials, but now we want to bring them in with our own name."

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