Building financial trust with one-to-one marketing

In light of Wall Street’s recent woes, business-to-business marketers need to proceed with caution, especially in the financial services sector. During this volatile time of major bankruptcies and bailouts, companies in this industry need to work harder to acquire and retain clients.

“Business decision makers are cynical — and for good reason,” said Gal Borenstein, CEO and chief strategist at b-to-b agency The Borenstein Group. “Mistrust is high and the biggest concern for them is, essentially, if they will be fired or drive the company out of business for making the choice to work with you.”

Today, he adds, marketers need to find a silver lining in the fragile economy and use that as an opportunity. “If as a marketer you believe that because Wall Street is suffering you should be hiding, you’re basically shoot­ing yourself in the foot,” Borenstein says. “With the big dogs suspended in the marketplace, this is the single greatest opportunity for small to midsize financial marketers to build person-to-person relationships and to start a conversation with a single message.”

The message is “we’re in this together,” he explains — pointing out that banks, which have long been thought of only as inanimate buildings, can become more humanized with this tactic. Indeed, the concept of making financial services more personal is a definitive trend in this sector.

“Everyone is moving [toward] online marketing,” says Paul Heald, CEO of business webcast provider Bright­Talk. “But within that, we’re seeing a real need to get engaged with the customer and create relationships.”

Keith Evins, head of UK retail marketing for JP Morgan Asset Man­agement, says the company has been using webcasts for years to connect fund managers with clients. In the past, executives had to attend numer­ous conferences and meetings that can now be done online. This saves the executive valuable time to manage the client’s fund. “With the latest crisis, we’ve been able to stage conference calls almost immediately and have clients hear from key personnel on these issues, almost as they’re happening,” Evins says. “That’s very valuable.”

It’s also important to remember that a business decision maker should not be treated as just any other consumer. “They’re not there to be entertained or to socialize, but to learn and stay up to date,” Heald says.

Borenstein agrees, saying that purchasers of consumer products and services are more likely to be swayed by a discount or other money-saving deal. “It’s the opposite with hard-nosed business executives,” he says. “CEOs have this sophistication level that says, ‘If you’re offering me something that others aren’t, what wrong with this picture?’”

However, an outside-the-box offer can also be effective with this audience. Daniel Weinbach, EVP of The Weinbach Group, recently worked on a b-to-b direct mail and e-mail sweepstakes with the goal of acquiring qual­ity leads for a private equity firm. The prize was a Mercedes. “It inspired interest and excitement,” he says. “To make the incentive tangible really made a big difference. Visually and conceptually this direct mail initiative stood out from what this audience saw on a regular basis.”

At the end of the day, it is essential to be relevant and speak the language of your target. “Messaging has to be completely relevant to the audience,” Weinbach says. “You should strive to appeal to a potential user based on what their needs are and what their business is all about.”

Borenstein agrees. “If you can create an eye-level conversation and come up with innovative solutions that are realistic, that’s the difference between the [marketers] that are suc­cessful and the ones that aren’t,” he says.


Trivest Partners

In January, private equity firm Trivest Partners worked with The Weinbach Group on a direct mail and e-mail contest that targeted 6,000 business brokers, lawyers, accountants and investment bankers. The goal of the mailing was to increase qualified leads from those looking to sell their business. Trivest will give one Mercedes-Benz four-year lease to the first person that refers a deal closing within 12 months, and one to the person who refers the most qualified leads. The contest runs through December 31.

JP Morgan

JP Morgan is working with webcast provider BrightTalk to host its webcast channels, looking to reach institutional investors, increase customer loyalty and grant prospects access to JP Morgan fund managers. In the past year, these fund managers hosted 35 webcasts on the state of the market, which generated more than 1,300 hours of client contact. For certain webcasts, JP Morgan sent out 10,000 e-mails promoting the webcast and saw a 10% attendance rate. Additionally, up to 25% of the audience has participated either by asking questions or giving feedback.

Minnesota Business Finance Corp.
Direct mail campaign

Minnesota Business Finance Corporation (MBFC), a Small Business Association-certified develop­ment company will launch a direct mail campaign to promote the SPA 504 business loan this month. Targeting loan officers in state banks, the three oversized postcards drive users to a microsite where they can take a quiz testing their knowl­edge of small business financing. The last card offers recipients the ability to sign up for a visit from MBFC to discuss the advantages of the program, including a free catered lunch.

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