Smaller 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.