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Financial Services

Breaking Through to Boomerang Consumers

16 Aug, 2010 By: Jackie Jones Response

Financial services marketers should target the newest wave of consumers with education through effective DR channels.


Getting Personal

A similar focus on personalized and individual interaction is key to ING Direct’s DR efforts toward Boomerangers, says company representative Robert Graham. Graham, whose target market is 23- to 30-year-olds, says that in addition to corporate Internet and phone initiatives, his Tustin, Calif.-based office creates its own advertising through DVDs to actively engage consumers.

“Most people our age don’t want to sit down for 20 minutes and listen to someone explain finances. We think it’s better to hand out a DVD explaining what we do, let people watch it on their time and then work directly with the clients when they’re ready,” says Graham, who works primarily in retirement planning.

Graham and other ING representatives are each given 10-15 seconds of camera time to explain what they can do for individuals to help set up their finances, and they plan to “rent” out the DVD to potential clients. ING reps will initiate a second point of contact when requesting the DVD back from consumers.

“It’s a quantifiable way for us to interact with clients since they know we’ll be in touch again to ask for the DVD back,” Graham says.

Graham says the biggest challenge in marketing to Boomerangers — especially when it comes to long-term finances, such as retirement planning — is the lack of education most have when it comes to personal financial responsibility.

“You might be trained how to generate money in business classes, but we don’t have very many personal finance classes growing up,” he says. “It’s a tough situation for people to be in.”

ING meets this challenge through a combination of DR initiatives and personalized word-of-mouth networking, according to Graham. “We take a more personal approach by staying in touch with clients and prospective clients at least once a month, and we’re always trying to extend our network through friends of friends,” says Graham, who adds that ING reps have also begun setting up individual Facebook pages as a way for clients to have direct access to them and ING Direct’s services.

Trust Through Knowledge

Key challenges remain for financial services providers in marketing to Boomerang Consumers, most notably how to target them in the first place. It’s tough through media consumption alone to make a determination of which consumers fall under the Boomeranger category and which households are multigenerational, says Matthew Conlin, sales director of New York-based Clash-Media, which focuses on online customer acquisition and lead generation. Customization in lead generation could prove useful to marketers when narrowing down who’s whom, Conlin says.

“With lead generation, if we need to get more granular with users, we can by using custom questions,” Conlin says, adding that companies could incorporate specific questions to landing pages to help marketers determine whether it would be beneficial to create a sub segment of marketing materials.

Echoing Graham’s sentiments, many in the financial services industry say the No. 1 challenge they’ve faced in marketing to this newest wave of consumers is the need for education.

“What we’re seeing as general behavior in this consumer group is that they’re not educated in this space ... and they don’t have a broad awareness of things that go into financial life,” says Bryan Stapp, chief marketer of Loud Amplifier Marketing and former CMO of Quicken Loans (Response, August 2007). “As a result, they are very research-heavy because they want to learn, they crave the knowledge and they are very open to being taught.”

Stapp says the challenge lies in marketers building quality relationships with Boomerangers and reaching them where they already are through traditional and DR channels. “Marketers have to tailor their messaging to how this audience wants to interact. They have to earn the right and earn consumers’ trust through education to earn their business. That’s a fundamental shift for some older companies,” Stapp says.

The most successful tools for financial services marketers in the interactive space are Web sites with a call-to-action of a very simple, nonthreatening lead form that leads to more education through print or video, Stapp says.

Mobile seems to be the way of the future in DR marketing for financial services, according to many in the industry. In addition to mobile apps, people respond well to texting, Stapp says. For example, J.G. Wentworth is running SMS campaigns linked to its DRTV spots that have shown initial promise, says CMO Ken Murray, a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board.

“It’s pretty amazing the level of response that you get, a type of ‘if you build it, they will come’ phenomenon,” Murray says. “There’s still a lot of work to do around that obviously, but we’re showing some pretty promising initial results.”

When targeting any consumer group, it’s important to always meet them where they are, Murray says. For Boomerangers, that seems to be the Web. “It’s important to focus in on where this particular group spends a lot of time on while on the Web, like social applications. You need to have a presence and effective strategy to appeal to folks, layer that into a proposition to target to them, and then have a platform that addresses them and their needs specifically,” Murray says.

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