Meet the Marketer: Financial Services Industry

Posted by Gena Folts on Fri, Dec 10, 2010
Financial Services

New technology in the digital marketing landscape is affecting financial services companies more and more each day. In the recent past they have explored and succeeded with mobile, illustrating their willingness to enter new territory. Through it all these companies are working to keep all their digital messaging portable, personalized, and participatory. Each speaker on the panel for Meet the Marketer: Financial Services, which included James Bacharach, VP Brand Communications & Creative Services, John Hancock; Hee Kyu Kim, VP Digital Marketing, Bank of America; and John Magee, VP Analytics, PerkStreet Financial; and our moderator Melissa Rodenhiser, Director of New England Sales for shared his or her experience over the past year as well as insights into their predictions for 2011.

Where they are now:

  • Jim Bacharach gave perspective into John Hancock’s marketing mix of television, online, and print. They’ve found that this approach reaches their customers (mass affluent) most effectively. John Hancock should be considered in the early stages of social media (or as Jim jokingly admitted, “late to the game”). They are historically a very conservative company and social media presents a big unknown, which is a barrier the company is working to overcome.
  • Hee Kyu Kim spoke to the balancing act that Bank of America faces when engaging in new technologies like mobile. For example, checking a personal account is a much bigger mobile opportunity than high investment products like financial advisors, so they can’t move all their products into new media channels without evaluating the product against the potential. Bank of America and John Hancock run into issues regarding bureaucracy and legal issues. Their social media efforts are an example of extreme bureaucratic push-back, and they have had difficulty moving beyond listening and pushing to actually engaging and conversing with customers. An exciting accomplishment for Bank of America this year was the launch of their Twitter handle (they are still working on creating a Facebook page, though).
  • Jim Magee described PerkStreet Financial’s strategy as “test and learn, and building scale as we go.” A big challenge is changing people’s perception of online-only banking from negative to positive. Right now they are heavily engaged in social media but continue to promote using more traditional channels, like radio endorsements.

What’s new and exciting in 2011?

  • Bacharach said John Hancock would be testing mobile more in 2011. It will be an interesting endeavor since their company doesn’t market directly to consumers; instead they rely on their wholesalers to distribute their products. They are also working to converge their messaging across channels as effectively as possible in order to give their brand a bigger presence.
  • Kim said Bank of America will be focusing on data, custom content, DSPs, and expanding usability on the iPad. Overall, 2011 will be a year dedicated to deepening the tools they’re using now.
  • Magee said they would be working to introduce and promote savings accounts along with their checking accounts, but in terms of their marketing strategy, video is up next!

What are Financial Services Companies looking for in an agency?

  • Both Kim and Bacharach agreed that they want their agency to make them look smarter than they are! It’s difficult for them to stay on top of all the emerging technologies so they look to their agency to provide all that background information. Especially if an agency can weed through the hype and present the solid recommendations.
  • John presented the PerkStreet Financial perspective (synonymous with the start-up perspective), saying that testing was paramount when it comes to implementing recommendations. Don’t waste too much time perfecting ideas when working with a start-up, because only a fraction of all ideas end up working with such a new and rapidly changing company.