Stapp Interview with Financial Services Advisor from Compete

This week I was interviewed by Karen Marchione for Compete’s weekly Financial Services Advisor Newsletter. The theme of “Trust” dovetails with the presentation I gave yesterday at JFAM:Live! to over 100 financial services marketers – in today’s environment your internet marketing and web site need to convey trust, ease and security more than ever before. The posting is below, or you can read it online at Compete’s web site by clicking here. Let me know what you think, and if you have examples of folks who “get it” and are doing it right. Enjoy!


By: Karen Marchione

September 10, 2008

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Bryan Stapp, former CMO of Quicken Loans and currently Chief Marketer of his firm Loud Amplifier Marketing. In our interview, Bryan discusses the key challenges online financial services marketers are currently facing, how to leverage online and offline marketing, and even what playing in his band has taught him about marketing.

In your opinion, what are some of the key challenges for today’s online marketers within the Financial Services industry?

Establishing trust is the biggest challenge right now. Banks are failing, home values are plummeting, stocks are down, and the average consumer thinks the whole game is rigged against them. Consumers I talk to say they don’t know who to trust. Folks who never took out a sub-prime mortgage are impacted by tightening credit and may even have their home equity lines of credit reduced due to falling home values. It doesn’t make sense to folks who have always paid their bills on time and played by the rules.

Big brands can really win here by becoming the rock of stability, and reassuring their customers about the trust they have already placed in them. The big brands have the opportunity to leverage the brand equity they have established over the years by reaching out and guiding their customers thru this storm. Smaller or less established brands will really need to step up the quality of their advertising online (no more dancing presidents!), and to add broadcast advertising to the extent they can afford it in this environment. Online, this is the time to leverage good will and trust established with your customers thru testimonials, PR, social network commentary and good old-fashioned email communications.

It’s interesting to note that over the past year, web visits to the largest online mortgage lenders have dropped as much as 71%. Ditech has increased their visits, something I would attribute to their sustained TV campaign. Curiously, the Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter has more visits than the big lenders, and their traffic is up 161% from last year – what does that tell you about trust?

Are FS marketers doing enough to leverage online and offline efforts together?

This is a real challenge for so many industries – especially companies which grew up in the offline media world. So few CEO’s, and even CMO’s, have a real appreciation for how the two work together and complement each other.

In the example above, Ditech continues to drive traffic to their site because they continue to advertise on TV while their competitors have pulled back. I work with experts in radio advertising and the correlation between radio spending and online traffic is clear as day. Yet the messages the clients put out in each medium are very different, so the common thread becomes the brand name. With consistency and forethought, the two can be combined to really create a powerful response mechanism. People want to go online before calling – they want to check you out and don’t want to commit to a phone call right off the bat. Create a consistent, united front and you will have a powerful combination.

As an online marketer, what are some of your favorite tools that you use to hone your craft?

Google has so many great tools that I use every day – analytics, insight for search, trends. I also love the Compete Toolbar – especially with Firefox because it gives me a visit trend snapshot in the bottom of the browser window.

In terms of ad serving and optimization, Adchemy in Redwood City has developed some amazing technology and methodology for serving ads with literally hundreds of dynamic variables instantaneously. It is a direct response marketers dream. These are some smart guys.

Which Financial companies do you think are doing a great job of marketing online to their customers? Why?

Do any financial services companies REALLY do a great job in marketing to their customers? I have had accounts with some of the same firms for more than 20 years and have never received any communication that said they really cared about my business. How about a simple birthday card? Given the enormous amounts of information that financial services possess about their customers, it is shameful how little of it is used in a way to strengthen the relationship and expand the share-of-customer the firms have.

Having said that, Chase and Citi are doing a nice job with email marketing. The emails I see from them always add value, they make their offers relevant and succinct. But they are generic, and not necessarily tailored to me as an individual. Chase in particular seems to have created great integration between their local branches and their online communications with customers.

Connecting with Gen Y is a goal of most FS marketers right now – is it possible to get their attention, if so, how?

Connecting with Gen Y is not about having a presence on Facebook and YouTube. These are really savvy consumers, and they will look for evidence of your claims at every turn. They respect authenticity, which comes back to our earlier discussion around trust. I think connecting with Gen Y happens when you create great products and services. This generation is less accepting of the status quo and is more willing to ask “Why can’t it be the way I want it to be?” Look at the huge success of Apple with this market. Why on earth would I try to cobble together a Vista-based PC with a Blackberry and an iPod when I can buy everything from Apple and it works together seamlessly and elegantly? Financial Services marketers need to take that same approach to their products and find ways to make them “insanely great.”

What has playing in your band taught you about marketing?

Playing in a rock and roll band teaches teamwork, cooperation, compromise, and fun. It’s funny how certain simple songs will connect with an audience and get them to move closer to the stage and get into the music, while other songs that require greater musical skills send folks back to their tables. Advertising and Marketing are kind of the same way – the beautiful rich-media ad that wins awards but generates few sales gets trumped by a straightforward text link ad. So just like being in the band, you need to give the people what they want and be honest about who you are. Audiences and consumers know when you are faking it.

Who should we interview next?

Asheesh Advani, CEO of Virgin Money. He created Friend-and-family lending way before peer-to-peer became cool, and then got the attention of Richard Branson. He is a brilliant guy, and really knows his stuff.

About Bryan Stapp

Bryan Stapp is the Chief Marketer for his firm Loud Amplifier Marketing, providing marketing consulting to CEO’s and CMO’s in multiple industries. He is a frequent presenter at industry conferences on the subject of internet marketing, consumer relationships, and brand building. Prior to starting Loud Amplifier Marketing, Bryan spent six and one half years as the Chief Marketing Officer for Quicken Loans – the number one online mortgage lender in the United States. Read Bryan’s blog posts at

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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3 Responses to “Stapp Interview with Financial Services Advisor from Compete”

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