J.G. Wentworth's Direct Response Aria1 Aug, 2008 By: Thomas Haire Response
CMO Ken Murray calls the financial services leader's comedic opera-themed DRTV spot the most successful campaign in his stellar two-decade career.
During his years at MBNA, J.G. Wentworth began working in the illiquid assets field in 1992 (see sidebar, page 32). Murray, who had risen to senior vice president of research and development at MBNA, was looking for a new challenge. When he saw the opportunity to become CMO at J.G. Wentworth, he jumped at it.
J.G. Wentworth s "Opera" DR spot has been a smash hit with consumers and online video fans alike. Murray says it s the most successful campaign in his career.
"My group is responsible for new account acquisition — primarily via TV, radio and Web advertising — as well as loyalty marketing, which is conducted mostly through targeted direct mail and E-mail campaigns," he says. "I am also responsible for branding efforts and media relations."
Wentworth Is a DR Believer
While Murray is clearly a true believer in direct response marketing, he's quick to point out that J.G. Wentworth was one of corporate America's leaders in utilizing DR far before his arrival. "DR has been a critical component of J.G. Wentworth's growth plan for a long time," he contends. "In our business, there are no good lists to provide lead sources — you've got to create and compile your own lists. The best way to do that is to advertise your services directly to consumers. Today, it is still the most critical component of the media plan."
He points to the company's CEO since 1994, Mike Goodman, for the vision behind J.G. Wentworth's overall marketing scheme. "Before I arrived, Mike Goodman had the vision to suggest or think that our product and service offerings should be available to masses," he adds. "The best, most cost-effective way to do this was direct response via television. It allows for a lot of sampling, testing and evolving the creative. And at the outset of the company, DRTV offered the best way to reach an audience in order to grow the scale of the business."
The key to building the J.G. Wentworth business from direct response was the opportunity to create and grow easily sustainable and measurable lists of interested consumers and active customers. The company continues to do so to this day, cultivating new and continuing customers. "As we're building and segmenting our database, we also follow up with new leads and existing clients through other direct response means," Murray says. "We follow up via direct mail, telephone, E-mail. We're constantly in front of them."
He says it's crucial to remain top-of-mind, as transactions in this specific space of the financial services market can range wildly in complication and length of time to complete. "Transactions can take as little as a couple weeks or as long as several years," he says. "We may have a client who entered our database 10 years ago, but is doing a transaction today. It's crucial that even if a potential customer isn't quite ready to commit that we remain constantly in front of them in various media. At some point, when they need to do a transaction, we are in the forefront."