In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Neisser's complete interview with CMO Award Winner John DeVincent, click here.
Contrary to popular belief, being the underdog isn't fun. Usually, you're outmuscled, you're always outspent and if you're lucky, you might get name-checked in an article about your competition. To put it mildly, it's rough out there. But Hollywood does get one thing right: everybody loves to see an underdog win.
Enter John DeVincent, who until recently was the CMO at eMoney Advisor, an up and coming brand in the financial advice sector. Ask DeVincent if he were concerned about his competition, he'd tell you straight. "It can be challenging because of eTrade and Fidelity's award-winning advertising, but when clients need comprehensive financial advice, they look for a trusted advisor, not an automated system," says DeVincent. "We advocate for the human advisors - the ones who provide a personal touch."
Last year, DeVincent and his team turned their lack of self-serving advertising into a successful marketing strategy, and by priding itself on the customer experience over flashy ads, eMoney Advisor keeps zagging, while their competitors zig.
A Dark Horse's Life
Ask any marketer, and they'll tell you there's a big difference between B2B and B2C. But when it comes to financial advising (a very B2B-focused industry), modern marketing strategies look surprisingly consumer focused. So when eMoney Advisor was unable to match its competitor's faux-B2C approach, it decided to go to the roots, talking to clients to create a new direction. "eMoney is a smaller firm. We can't compete with the advertising budgets of our big competitors like eTrade and Fidelity," says DeVincent. "[So] we created a campaign to position our user-base as 'trusted advisors' and encourage them to leverage our product as a tool to further strengthen the advisor-client relationship."
Leveraging the user base as brand advocates is a tactic many B2B companies want to implement, but often the actual customer experience makes the marketing ring hollow. That's not the case over at eMoney. "Being a small company, this has been a relatively easy philosophy to adopt," says DeVincent. "The customer experience is a big priority for our CEO. You have to consistently go above and beyond to create an excellent customer experience."
Talking about your positive customer experience and delivering on that promise are two very different things; when it comes to day-to-day execution, John DeVincent agrees it takes a village. "As marketers, we wear several hats. At eMoney, we manage a blog, create video vignettes, maintain a social media presence and employ traditional advertising," says DeVincent. "It is extremely important for us to work collaboratively to align the 12-15 tasks assigned at any given time."
By priding itself on creating and disseminating actionable information, eMoney Advisor provides valuable services to their clients before they're even clients. And if it looks like a business is starting to shift away from the product, DeVincent's team knows how to reach out. "If we find out that [advisors aren't using the software], we reach out and offer educational resources, software training, etc. We are really focused on this because, to us, getting in front of customers to facilitate the natural interactions that we have as human beings is imperative to a lasting advisor/client relationship."
For eMoney Advisor, maintaining this advisor/client relationship is a constant task that goes far beyond the bounds of traditional marketing. "I do agree with the notion that the CMO's job extends to supporting the entire customer experience," says DeVincent. "In my mind, during every customer interaction, you either win or lose share. It's either positive or negative."What John advocates, more than anything else, is seeing marketing as a piece of the whole, and without a company-wide commitment to a quality customer experience, a company won't be able to retain customers against the Goliaths in their industry. On the other hand, if a client feels cheated, no amount of talking-baby-super-bowl-commercials can regain that trust. DeVincent agrees, saying, "You want to be the company that people want to do business with. It's important to stay relevant and stir emotion." He continues, "Make people feel good. If you face obstacles, you must make sure you overcome them with style and go above and beyond to problem-solve."
CMO of the Week is an exclusive Social Media Today column published every Thursday.