Who’s Marketing That New Product for Banks? Increasingly, Their Vendors

teddiesSmaller vendors are increasingly assuming marketing responsibilities with banks to help get products in front of customers.

MoneyDesktop is known for its beautiful user experience and slick functionality — who doesn’t love those bubble budgets? — but the company is taking a deeper dive into partnering with banks with its launch of MoneyDesktop Client Services, announced Nov. 5 at BAI Retail Delivery in Denver. This new division of the Provo, Utah-based company will focus on “employee training, creative and strategic marketing, technical support and other services designed to increase the ROI of an investment” in MoneyDesktop’s PFM product.

It might seem like a well-designed product will find its advocates in an organization, who will pass along that enthusiasm to consumers, but increasingly fintech companies are finding that they must move further inside the institutions’ walls to help the banks get the product to customers through increased employee training and even offering marketing services.

Larger vendors, particularly those offering core products, have often worked closely with banks’ IT markets in an ongoing way, but smaller vendors moving into the marketing space seems to be something new.

Banks’ resources are strained by many factors, including — significantly — compliance concerns. It can be hard to devote the employee-hours to properly learning, deploying and marketing products. “There are a thousand different initiatives, so many things clamoring for attention that it’s hard to emphasize priorities,” said Nate Gardner, vice president of client services and strategic partnerships at MoneyDesktop. “The guy at the till needs to get the message, and some institutions have no marketing team.”

No marketing team, or someone who has assumed a marketing role in addition to his or her primary duties, is common at smaller banks, Gardner said. Adding to the difficulty of getting the marketing message to the front line is that teller and call center jobs are, by their nature, transient.

“There is a lot of turnover with those engaging with account holders,” Gardner said.

Earlier this year, MoneyDesktop began working with some of its more than 400 partner institutions to provide guidance in the form of direct training in use of the product, as well as designing custom marketing materials. MoneyDesktop has won two Telly awards for its videos and is, as fintech watchers know, highly skilled at promoting its product.

This process was formalized over recent months and launched as Client Services this week. “The idea is to get the institution the maximum value out of what they’re buying,” Gardner said, as well as to “keep engagement high.”

Wade Arnold, CEO of Banno, told a similar story to Bank Innovation in September regarding the company’s Kernel product. Designed to deliver insights for customized marketing and cross-selling based on analytics from Banno’s online banking platform and Grip mobile platform, Kernel was not finding the usage Banno envisioned. Arnold and his team eventually realized that the system, once installed, was not being used to maximum effectiveness by the banks, and that additional training was needed. Arnold theorized that Banno needs to develop a “lightweight CRM” system to help banks process the information they were being delivered, and to take a role in messaging customers about the availability of online and mobile banking. He joked that this could mean putting up a cardboard display in the lobby.

The time is right to step up the mobile marketing message, as many banks are in the process of updating their “1.0″ mobile apps and developing deeper capabilities and better user experiences for customers in the second generation. “There is an arms race in mobile in terms of differentiation and value-added services to bring in revenue,” said Marc Winitz, VP of marketing for Monitise. “Banks need to get in a position to try and fight it.”

Part of fighting the battle well means properly employing solutions that have been bought but sit idle. “A lot of companies bought Salesforce and it just sits there,” said Mitchell Orlowsky, CEO of Ignite Sales. Ignite offers a cross-channel sales platform that uses old-fashioned sales techniques — looking at website visitors and branch visitors as prospects — to boost revenue. Ignite offers customized guides for employees and limits its implementation cycle to 90 days or less, to keep employee interest and engagement high.

Banks are facing pressure to raise revenue after  along period of cutting costs, but many institutions are focused on compliance and lack the resources to properly implement and deploy the products being offered by vendors. Now smaller vendors are following in the direction of their larger competitors and closing that last mile by embedding themselves in banks and assuming some of the functions formerly reserved for the bank itself, such as marketing.

What happens when the same vendor is marketing the same product on behalf of multiple banks? Alas, no one has a firm answer to that question as of today.

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5 Comments

  1. This could be for the fact that banks and credit unions continue to buy the digital tools with no clear vision or strategy for how they all tie together. So a bank or credit union has adopted PFM, bill pay, mobile banking, RDC, CRM, but how do they all connect? If conversations like this get moved back up to the executive/strategic level, marketing may have more of a chance implementing the tools while showing value for the investments made in them.

    I liken this to challenging a bank or credit union executive to go to the hardware store, buy wood, a hammer, nails and cement and build a fence. If one has never built a fence before, it will be tough even though they have all the tools. However, if one has the tools, plus instructions on how they work together, the objective could be obtained.

  2. Being part of a smaller Credit Union (Oswego County FCU), we partnered up with Geezeo for our PFM product. Geezeo was so great for us, they helped us craft our brand, worked out a marketing strategy, and their communications through the whole process was top notch(and still is post launch)!

    Geezeo had a great strategy to engage our staff, and get our brand/message out there! Engaging and getting buy-in from your staff is key, and with Geezeo’s help we were able to do just that!

    We also were able to work with PTP Media for a marketing campaign, which if you haven’t worked with them…they are Outstanding! and we were able to launch our PFM ( The Big Picture) with ease and with great penetration to our members.

  3. Lisa Kuhn Phillips says:

    Great article, Philip.

    I agree with James that strategy before investment is necessary. I also agree a Marketing Division WITH Training and Development support is critical for the success and adoption of a tool that will, in time, teach financial “self-literacy” to those willing to see and use PFM as a performance tool.
    Glad to see other PFM providers are now offering these “value add” solutions and options for financial institutions with lean resources. I’ve been following since early 2012 (yes, 2012!) when Geezeo created their own Marketing division, coupled with client services training, and an industry #Edge series (good insights – I just attended one with Stessa Cohen of Gartner). A vendor definitely focused on keeping their clients knowledgeable and aware, with Marketing specialization and guidance, is one to be considered. My training and development background tells me that having commitment and buy-in from your entire team is key before customer adoption and active usage sustains. BRAVO to those who have finally figured out this holistic approach ~ Tech tools only work when Talent, Training and right Timing occurs. Marketing then supports the effective roll-out and adoption rates.
    It’s not just about IT and compliance (yes, incredibly important), but the sum of all parts: Training and Development, Marketing and market delivery effectiveness with each contract signing and updates. The research and results are there to prove which provider is the right one for each FI client. I find that with anything relatively new to marketplace that slow and steady, rather than fast and flash, always wins the long-term relationship race.

  4. Thanks for the comments, everyone! Good things are happening.

  5. Nate Gardner says:

    Excellent article Phil & great points everyone – The strategic vision and executive buy-in are absolutely key to really ensure any product has the greatest chance for success. In the case of PFM, one painful reality is that historically its function and roll in the digital delivery channel have been misunderstood as mere data visualization tools, to be siloed off and buried in a services tab. This is obviously a major flaw in mindset and execution and likely a major contributor to lack-luster adoption seen with PFM’s of old. The prevalence of this old mindset means that in order for PFM to have its correct and more powerful place in the users digital money experience, an enormous amount of the right training and internal/external marketing needs to be laid out in a clear plan by the provider. Then, the FI and vendor partner need to work in concert to execute that plan. A massive opportunity to really change this paradigm exists by having very clear, strategic conversations early on, at an executive level with each FI – with on-going frequent calibration discussions consistently occurring. As this focus and urgency grows at an FI, the roll of PFM in the broader digital strategy will continue to take its vital and central roll in the users digital money experience.

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