What is your company name?
Please give a short bio of your company
The Financial Brand is an online publication focusing on issues and advice that affect bank and credit union brands. With a razor-sharp focus, the site provides strategic analysis and insight on a range of critical brand-building tools, along with real-world examples, ideas and practical advice about the marketing challenges financial institutions face today.
When was your company started?
The Financial Brand was launched in the fall of 2007, but wasn’t rolled out publicly until May 2008. It took six months to get the site populated with articles and content so that when it went live, it wouldn’t be empty.
What is your targeted market?
The primary audience is marketing professionals working at retail banks and credit unions, although about 15% of the site’s readership includes other C-level financial executives. Another 10% of readers work for vendors in the financial marketing industry.
Presently, the site is exclusively focused on retail banking (loans and accounts for everyday consumers). Down the road, The Financial Brand may expand its focus to include other sectors of the financial vertical — commercial banking, investments, insurance, etc.
Who is your competition, and what do you do better?
There really isn’t any competition to The Financial Brand. The closest thing would probably be ABA’s Bank Marketing Magazine, but their publication (1) requires a paid subscription, (2) is not really published online, and (3) only deals with banks, ignoring credit unions completely.
There is no other free publication or website offering both bank and credit union marketers the breadth, depth and frequency of relevant material available at The Financial Brand.
One thing The Financial Brand does is deliver “meat.” The average article is around 1,000 words long. In today’s world of soundbites and pithy blurbs, it can be difficult to find articles that thoroughly explore any subject. If you go to similar sites with a marketing focus (Ad Age or Ad Week), you might see a 250-word write-up of a campaign along with one example. At The Financial Brand, you’d see as many examples of the campaign as were available. Some articles have over 50 images in them. After all, you’re publishing on the web, so there is no limitation to how much “pulp” you can use.
How many current customers do you have and what is your estimated yearly growth?
The site currently draws between 50,000 and 65,000 unique visitors every month. Last month, there were over 135,000 pageviews, putting the site on pace for around 1.75 million pageviews by the end of the year. There are over 5,000 email subscribers, and another 3,000 or so RSS subscribers.
Since launch, the site has attracted 785,000 unique visitors who have viewed articles 2.5 million times.
The site has sustained an average growth rate of about 10% month-over-month since launch. It has effectively doubled every year, although that pace will likely slow in the next 12-24 months.
What types of products and/or services do you offer?
The beauty of publishing is that the publisher isn’t trying to sell anything to its primary audience. The Financial Brand sells nothing to readers. Everything on the site is free.
The Financial Brand is entirely supported by paying advertisers. Paid ad placements make up about 98% of the site’s revenue. There are some other, minor ways to make money from the website (such as the Amazon-powered bookstore), but they amount to such little revenue, it’s hardly worth mentioning.
In the future, The Financial Brand will be exploring an industry conference and awards show for marketing excellence.
How do you see your company in the next 2-5 years?
Five years from now, The Financial Brand might be big enough to sell. At some point, there will be a media company out there who will make an offer on it.
How much does your company embrace risk?
Publishing isn’t an inherently risky business. There is a low-level of risk with every article you publish — someone may sue you, or you could alienate readers with an unpopular stance. The risks are low, but whatever risks there apply to every single article you publish, and The Financial Brand just published its 1,000th article.
There are publications out there like the Huffington Post and Business Insider who take a lot of chances (mostly editorial). If you said sites like the Drudge Report were a “10″ on a 10-point “risk scale,” and the Harvard Business Review was a “0,” The Financial Brand is probably right around a “5″ or a “6.” At the end of the day, we’re talking about bank marketing, which isn’t a terribly racy or dicey subject. It’s usually pretty tame stuff, relatively speaking.
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome as a company?
Personal bandwidth. As the chief cook and bottle washer, there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done. Also, running a high-traffic website is something that’s become increasingly complex, so it can be challenging to those who lack tech/admin chops.
Do you have a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.?
Please give a short bio of your company
Currency is the leading integrated marketing agency for credit unions. We help credit unions stand out in the crowded, homogenous financial services marketplace with our proven marketing programs.
What is your product or service?
Please give a brief synopsis of the product/service
We help credit unions close the age gap with our proven Young & Free marketing program. Young & Free is an innovative, social media meets product promotion meets user-generated-content campaign that is achieving significant on-going success for credit unions in the US and Canada.
It’s a proven recipe for success. A voice in the form of a hired Young & Free Spokesperson. A head start in the form of a market-leading young adult account package. And useful information in the form of daily blog posts, weekly videos and a constantly growing collaborative catalog of rich content delivered on dedicated regional microsites and on the social web.
Why would a bank or credit union use your product/service?
There is a decade-plus age gap in the credit union industry. While the average age of a North American is 37 years old, the average age of a credit union member is almost 50. Credit unions are not replacing maturing depositors with young borrowers fast enough.
It’s not looking good. Gen Y is your credit union’s future, they just don’t know it. Attracting the next generation of credit union members needs to move from the back burner to a strategic imperative. Credit unions that continue to ignore this issue will not exist in 20 years.
Your credit union doesn’t have to fade into the history books. With Young & Free, your credit union has the potential to not only stop its membership decline, but to add hundreds of brand new young adult members.
Who is your competition, and what do you do better?
There are numerous marketing programs aimed at helping credit unions attract young adult members. The difference with Young & Free is that it is full blast. There is a dedicated employee who is creating content daily and who is out in the community interacting with members and potential members.
We push all of our clients to offer a market-leading product to compliment the marketing program. This is critical to success.
Another advantage is the network effect. There are now active programs in two Canadian provinces and seven US states. The credit unions involved work together and share best practices.
To date, more than 65,000 credit union members have opened products associated with Young & Free.
Are there different pricing levels? Do you offer a free version?
The Young & Free program is licensed on a monthly basis with an initial one year commitment. We do not offer a free version, but we do offer a paid diagnostic to see if the program is a fit for a credit union. Should the credit union decide to proceed, this fee is applied to the monthly contract.
We offer one exclusive license in each region. Regions are defined geographically by provincial and state borders. The first qualifying credit union or group of credit unions in each region to sign an agreement will secure regional rights to the program.
When was the product/service officially launched?
What is the number of current users? Estimated yearly growth?
There are now active programs in two Canadian provinces and seven US states with two of the US states being groups of credit unions. With these groups, the total number of participating credit unions is 91.
What type of help support is offered?
The program is fully managed by a program director. Each of our program directors manage a maximum of four clients, so there is a tremendous amount of time and attention given to each client.
What else is interesting about your product/service?
The biggest accolade to date was the Forrester Research Groundswell Award for best social media marketing campaign. In this category, Young & Free beat out campaigns from General Motors, Rubbermaid, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, American Express, Sears and Intuit.