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Financial Services

Renewing Trust in the Dollar

1 Aug, 2009 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response

The recession inspires DR companies to uncover creative new ways to reach customers in financial services.


Creating Value


Relevance and target are the most important aspects of building a financial services marketing campaign in 2009. With these two thoughts in mind, marketers are looking to create value for consumers that will get them to spend money in a recession.

Scott Gillum, senior vice president and head of the financial services branch of Bethesda, Md.-based MarketBridge, says the old days of doing a mass mailing with three offers are over. Now, direct response marketers are segmenting the marketplace and sending the right offer to the right customer. A mass mailing is costly in a recession, especially if it gets no return. Marketers have to be smarter about how they want to interact with customers.

Stephanie Gulbransen, marketing specialist, Saint Petersburg, Fla.-based Kobie Marketing (no relation to Intuit's Scott), says her company focuses on designing loyalty programs for companies in the financial services industry. Kobie uses analytics and data to gather information and propose the best way to keep customers loyal.

"For our financial services clients, one of our big value propositions is that we bundle points in a household," she says. For example, if a consumer has a home loan and several credit cards used by different members of the family, the family can pool all those points and redeem them for what brings them value. The offers on how to cash in points are highly targeted before they are mailed out to customers. "We were the first to bundle points and it [raises] the value proposition without incurring extra costs," she says. Rewards include travel, tickets to sporting events, spa packages, concerts and more.


Return of the Brand


One positive aspect of the recession is that it has forced direct response marketers to go back to the basics of what makes DR campaigns successful. Plus, it's forced agencies to look at the branding of products and how they can integrate DR to create trust and value in a time of uneasiness.

What clients are looking for from DRTV agencies are commercials that look more branded and polished, like mainstream advertising. "The way the order panels are structured, the graphics and the editing all have a more branded look to it so that the consumer would perceive it as a large company that inspires trust," says Seavey. The talent in the commercials tends to be more traditional actors conveying a branded message, rather than a DR pitchman. The goal is to be more traditional, less revolutionary, but at the same time be educational and not dull. But as Seavey says, in any industry, the infomercial has to get someone off the couch and to take an action.

"Many brands are going back to picking up logos and slogans that they used in the 1970s because of the positive connotation of these things," says Gillum. Also, some insurance companies are putting agents' pictures on the brand and the DR pieces, to put a face with the company.

Marketing campaigns in the financial services industry are also often focused on retention, not the acquisition of customers. "In the good old days, credit cards were focused on acquisition. The model used to be a leaky bucket, but now you're leaking so much on the back end, you've got to run the acquisition engine on full speed," says Gillum. Now, models are based on retention and growth. "I think it will force companies to be smarter about who their customers are and who they want to keep as customers," he says.

Stephanie Gulbransen says that Kobie is doing well in a down economy because of its focus on customer retention. In hard times, acquisition is more expensive than retention. She says the programs for clients in the financial services industries are still turning out positive numbers and high ROIs. The only difference is in what rewards are more popular, such as gas cards and FedEx for smaller businesses.

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