By: Ryan Anderson, Starwood Hotels and Resorts
As the financial markets eroded steeply in the second half of 2008, consumer behavior changed quickly and marketing executives had to reassess business priorities and plan their response to plummeting revenues. While many would expect brands in the financial services sector to go radio silent, Becky Saeger, EVP and CMO of The Charles Schwab Corporation, focused on turning crisis into opportunity.
Going well beyond crisis management, Schwab would recommit to their purpose of helping people be financially fit, despite the uncertainty of these economic times. While consumer involvement is typically very low for Schwab, “suddenly involvement shot up like a rocket” said Saeger. “This gave us the unique opportunity to engage with our clients.” She shared the following guideposts for campaign development on their path to growth:
Focus on what you can control. Schwab couldn’t control that over 100 banks had failed. That investor sentiment was dropping over 35%. That interest rates falling to virtually zero. What could be controlled was every point of contact in the arsenal to provide products and support to help clients and prospects through these times.
Constantly monitor corporate reputation and consumer sentiment. As the financial crisis evolved, it was important to understand what the consumer was doing and thinking so that communication could be adjusted accordingly, responding assertively when appropriate.
Be nimble and responsive in real-time. “Reprioritize everyday and execute like crazy” said Saeger. Attitudes and behaviors changed with every piece of market news, so Schwab’s messaging needed to be in tune with the current sensibilities of their prospects and clients.
These tenants drove the successful evolution of Charles Schwab’s “Talk to Chuck” campaign during a fragile financial era – recognizing their net promoter score at all time high and attrition score at an all time low. Despite the results of this well-laid approach, Ms. Saeger closed with the reminder that sometimes the consumer does not know what she wants. I couldn’t agree more. There is no doubt that the consumer is in control and that we need to be highly responsive in order to succeed. That said, we must remember that an essential part of our job as marketers is to identify our consumers’ latent needs through insight and address them by delivering innovative products, services and messages from our brands.
What are you doing to address your consumer’s latent needs in these trying times?