Prioritizing the Customer Experience

Dustin Cohn

Head of Brand & Marketing for CWM Division at Goldman Sachs

Learning Objectives

Please join the Head of Brand & Marketing for Goldman Sachs as he discusses a consumer based approach to product & brand marketing.


Key Takeaways:



  • For those who may not be familiar, what is Marcus by Goldman Sachs and what services do you provide to consumers?

  • How do you go about selecting the products you will build next and what goes into determining the features you highlight?

  • What matters most to customer’s today and how do you ensure you are giving them what they require?

  • How do you go about creating brand loyalty? What do you think keeps people with Marcus?

  • How does Marcus differ from the competitive set? What makes you stand out amongst consumers? Why would they choose you?

  • How do you market to/reach potential customers? What channels do you employ?


"What we do is we put the consumer at the center of everything. "

Dustin Cohn

Head of Brand & Marketing for CWM Division at Goldman Sachs

Transcript

Britt Erler

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the CONNECT CMO Leadership Virtual Summit hosted on Quartz Network. My name is Britt Erler, QN Executive Correspondent. Thank you so much for joining us. I would like to welcome our executive speaker, Dustin Cone, Head of Brand and Marketing for the Consumer and Wealth Management Division at Goldman Sachs. Welcome, Dustin.


Dustin Cone

Thank you, Britt. Happy to be here. Appreciate the opportunity.


Britt Erler

Of course. It’s a pleasure to have you here, and really excited to dive into this topic today to discuss consumer based approaches to product and brand marketing. Before we do so, for those that aren’t familiar, talk to me about what Marcus by Goldman Sachs is and what services you provide to consumers.


Dustin Cone

Marcus by Goldman Sachs launched about four years ago, and it was a startup really within this 150 year old institution. It was our first step into the consumer landscape where we were offering products and services to what we would consider Main Street sort of consumers that would really appreciate the value that our products would bring to them. The range of portfolios has grown a lot since our initial launch. We launched with personal loans, unsecured personal loans, then we expanded into online savings and CDs. We launched our savings product in the UK. Recently, we launched an app where you can connect all of your different financial services accounts, and really get more information on how you’re spending, and better ways of budgeting and spending. We also announced very recently our latest product, which is called Marcus Invest, which are managed portfolios for investing. Last but certainly not least, is we are launching our checking platform later this year, which is really exciting because when you think about checking, it doesn’t seem exciting, but it is. I can’t share too many details with you, but it’s something that’s very differentiated. All of these products really are integrated in a way that we are providing more value for your money and helping regular consumers make their money work harder.


Britt Erler

Fantastic! Spill the beans, Dustin. I need to hear this new feature.


Dustin Cone

Just a teaser. I have to build up—


Britt Erler

You got to do it. Well, you’ve got me hooked. It sounds like you guys have a ton of incredible services that you offer your consumers. My question for you is, how do you decide what to build next? What your consumers are going to be looking for? On top of that, what features do you decide to highlight?


Dustin Cone

What we do is we put the the consumer at the center of everything. We are always listening to our consumers, whether that’s ongoing panels that we have, social listening, or even more formal research where we’re testing different product ideas and features and benefits. It really is coming from the consumer. That really has been our approach from from day one. In fact, before we even launched Marcus, well, before we launched, we talked over 10,000 different consumers to understand their pain points within the financial services industry, what their experiences were with other financial services providers, as well as their experience with individual products. Ultimately, we let the consumer really help drive our product roadmap moving forward. Consumers had such a great experience with us that they said, “We want you to be our our full service bank, we want you to be our primary bank.” That really led us down the path for the checking product because when we launched checking, we have everything covered for you from savings to investing to just your common way of paying your bills on a regular basis. But ultimately, what we are so vigilant about is making sure that whatever we go to market with solves pain points in the industries but adds true value. For example, our savings business. When we launched, we wanted to make sure we had a very competitive rate. We had a claim where you can earn more interest with Marcus in one month than you can in one year with the largest banks. So if we’re going to do something, we’re going to do it right. We’re really going to err on the side of the customer and giving true value even with simple things like savings accounts.


Britt Erler

It sounds like almost what you’re really providing is not just all the services but you’re providing convenience. Also, this idea of you treating your consumers more like family than as opposed to just a number, which a lot of these other large institutions do. This consumer based approach really sounds like it’s having a major effect. Based on what you’ve seen in the last six to eight months with the major changes that we are seeing in every industry across the board, what do consumers want now? How are we seeing shifts in the industry?


Dustin Cone

Convenience, you just said it. I think, especially given the pandemic where consumers haven’t been able to physically walk into their bank branch, they have now realized you can really do mostly anything you can do in a branch sitting on your couch on your phone. That’s really what we tried to do—is make it very simple and convenient and easy. When you are longing for a live conversation with someone, even though we are a digital platform, and we don’t have a brick and mortar, we make it very convenient to talk to us live. In fact, if you call our personal loan call center, it’s based here in the United States, we don’t have IVRs—the machines where you have to press two and five and four to get to somebody then be put on hold—we don’t do that. We just pick up the phone, “Hello, Marcus by Goldman Sachs.” That actually was the number one thing that people wanted when we did this research very early on is, “I just want to be able to talk to a live person.” It’s more expensive for us to do it that way, especially in the United States, but we do think of different ways of making it easier to do banking and simplify and build trust and relationships with people. You also mentioned personal, which is also a very important part of of our go to market strategies and the way we service our accounts. That’s one of the reasons we call ourselves Marcus by Goldman Sachs. Marcus, it was actually the founder of Goldman Sachs—Marcus Bolden 150 years ago. Yet another way of us really trying to start a person to person conversation,


Britt Erler

Really going back to your roots, which is such a cool part about your organization. I think another major [unintelligible] that you mentioned is having people on the phone. I know for any service that I call for, when I get an automated message I want to hang up. It really does not make me feel like I’m being helped or that I’m being treated the way I should have as a consumer. So even though you’re saying it’s costing a little bit more money, I think the loyalty there for your consumers in the end sounds like it’s having a great increase. Taking that extra effort for them, right?


Dustin Cone

That’s exactly right. If you build that relationship over time, everybody wins. The consumer is more satisfied. That is good for growth ultimately. So we invest in things like that. We have no fee, personal loan, I should say that, which was also very unique in the personal lending space. So no fees for originating your loan or signing up, which a lot of our competitors have. No fees for paying down your loan early. We don’t even have fees for paying late. Again, it costs us more, and is a revenue stream for many others. But ultimately, we build that loyalty and we’re in it for the long haul. If we do right by our customers, they will do the right thing for us, too.


Britt Erler

I completely agree. In addition to convenience, treating them like family, this consumer based approach, what are some of the other ways that you really develop your brand loyalty, and ensure that it’s not just an in the moment idea that it’s actually a long lasting relationship?


Dustin Cone

One of the things that we take a lot of pride in is our content, the tools, and education that we provide to consumers. It’s for free. You don’t even have to be a customer of Marcus is to access the Marcus Content Hub, which is in our resource section on our website. We have great tools, calculators, videos, and articles to really help demystify your personal finances. What we’ve found is there’s a real intimidation that people feel from personal finance, it seems too complicated. They’re afraid of the estrus and the fine print. There’s also this inertia that people go through where they’ve been banking with the same people forever, and they think it’s going to be too big of a hassle to make a change. Oftentimes, they’re settling for lower interest rates on their savings account or higher interest rates on personal loans. So this information and content that we develop is intended to really demystify and simplify and become more transparent than our competitors, so people know their options and can make the right choices. Again, that’s completely free. I mentioned earlier, the app that we just launched again, you can download this app for free. You do not have to be a customer of Marcus. You can connect all of your different financial accounts. It starts to connect dots for people that you may not connect on your own. What are those subscriptions that you’ve had for maybe even years that you’ve forgotten about, and you keep paying over and over and over? Simple tools like what is available on our app just help make it easier for people to understand how they’re spending and how there’s a bar and how they’re saving. So those are the sort of value adds that we provide not just our customers, but really everyone.


Britt Erler

It’s really incredible. I can think from a personal level, I just got an apple bill the other day with [inaudible] 10 subscriptions that I do not even remember signing up. You realize once you use services like that where it’s all in one place, and you’re not having to go to multiple locations, to pay bills, and even just view what you owe, it just makes it so much simpler and stress free. I think, for a lot of people, finance does seem to be a bit of a stress. I know for me it is. So you’re really kind of taking that out of the everyday practice of it. Now, I want to ask how are you measuring your consumers happiness level? Is there a way that you’re sending out surveys to check in on them or calling them frequently to see how their wants and needs are changing?


Dustin Cone

We do that in this in several ways. We, of course, have NPS—Net Promoter Score. Happy to say that we are well above the industry average in financial services. But that’s the ongoing study that we have. to really understand how satisfied you are with with us and would you recommend us to a friend, a family member, or a colleague, so very high marks on NPS. That’s one way of tracking. We have an ongoing panel. The same sort of population of people, we want to understand, over time, how their perceptions are changing and evolving, and what new needs arise over the lifetime that they’re working with us. So that’s another way. Of course, we do a lot of project based work with consumers and do your typical quantitative and qualitative studies to also check in with consumers and test different products and features and benefits. I guess the last way we really measure our success, and how well we’re dealing with customers is third party data. We look to people like JD Power, who did a survey two years ago and named us best personal loan. We listened to the third parties who are also doing their research with consumers. We continue to do very well across all those measures, but we’re never satisfied though. When we won the JD Powerbest personal loan award, we were 99% focused on all the things that we could do better, what in the data suggests, shortcomings are ways that we could actually do better. think that’s how, you know, we continue to raise the bar, we listen to consumers, and we don’t rest on our laurels. We’re certainly not going to pat ourselves on the back, we’re gonna look for the negative stuff so we can address that.


Britt Erler

I think that’s really a key that you mentioned there for a lot of companies to take note of is that you are constantly adapting. Your job is never finished just because you made it over one hurdle. You’re constantly striving to improve your company and your consumer based approach as much as possible. I think that’s something that a lot of companies are really trying to do. Now, this is a very competitive market, what are some of the areas aside from just the services that you offer that really set you apart from the rest of the crowd, and keep your consumers coming back to you?


Dustin Cone

A lot of people ask me who our competitors are. Quite frankly, there’s enough business to go around for all of us. AUimately, this notion of consumer inertia is really our biggest competitor. AS that’s why we want to make sure that what we’re doing is educating you on what your options are. Sometimes, the best option for you may not be a Marcus by Goldman Sachs product. We have personal loans that some people use for home improvement as an example. That is appropriate for a lot of people. But some people actually would be better off with a HELOC, and we don’t do that. So in some cases, we’re educating people on the fact that you should go elsewhere and explore that as an option because that may be a better fit for you based on your needs. I think, ultimately, what sets us apart is transparency, education, and providing value and knowing, in certain cases, that we may or may not be appropriate for someone. I think that’s the part that really stands out and differentiates us. I think, from a tone standpoint, that also is a differentiator for us. We have a wink and a smile. We don’t take ourselves so seriously. It’s a fun brand. We think that’s also important, especially because personal finance is so intimidating to so many people, especially on the the lending side. The stigma of carrying debt, trying to manage that debt, and get out of debt, there’s such a stigma associated with that. So the more we can convey that we’re on your side and do it in a warm, friendly, personal, and sometimes, fun way, it sort of breaks down the walls and the barriers that people put up in terms of their personal finance. I think that’s another major differentiator for us.


Britt Erler

I completely agree. I really do think it makes a difference, especially in this new virtual environment, you really miss that human to human interaction and people being there to support you physically, whether it’s in office or walking into a bank. The fact that you and your team are able to really create a safe space for people, it’s engaging, it’s supportive, but also user friendly in this new virtual chaotic world where it’s changing day by day, is really the game changer between why you’re so successful as opposed to some of your competitors. Now, with all of these great services that you have, what are some of the ways that you found are the best to market and reach all of them?


Dustin Cone

Sure. We take a full funnel approach to our marketing efforts. I hope that you’ve seen some of our above the line advertising to create awareness. We have a fun campaign out there right now called You Can Money, which really touches upon a lot of the things that we’re discussing here. It’s sort of our way of creating a rallying cry for people like, “You can do this! You can money. There’s a better way.” Then, of course, the more rational you can money, like you can money by earning a lot more interest with us in your savings account. So this notion of You Can money, we have that in TV, in radio, and print. We’re excited about the extension of the campaign that actually is launching next month. We also have a lot of acquisitions based media as well. So it’s really full funnel marketing. Certainly, social media we’re very active on. We’ve got a lot of great PR type activities to gain awareness. Most recently, we actually hired a professional golfer named Patrick Cantlay. He’s in the top 10 on the PGA Tour and doing quite well right now. Our audience tends to love golf, so it was a natural fit for us. If you haven’t seen Patrick Cantlay wearing the Marcus by Goldman Sachs, check it out. He’ll be playing in the Masters coming up soon and wish him well. But etting into sports activations as well has been a way for us to reach this massive [inaudible] consumer to help gain awareness because we are still a relatively early stage business. We only launched a little over four years ago. So really firing on all those different cylinders.


Britt Erler

Incredible. It sounds clearly like it’s working. I think a lot of leaders could take advice from you and your team on where to really begin their journey and start this process. If they’re just coming into this market into this space, what final pieces of advice do you have for leaders during this time, especially those whose roles have expanded recently who have acquired new team members? How do you believe they can make it through this time and also be successful for the company as a whole?


Dustin Cone

I think listening to the consumer, ultimately, is what should drive the prioritizations of a business in terms of what is the product roadmap, what to do, and not do. It seems very obvious but most people really don’t do that. They put things into the market that they think people will like or meets their agenda as opposed to really listening to what consumers pain points are, how we can make their lives easier, create more value for them, more transparency for them. Ultimately, if if you make decisions for the long haul and not short term, and they cost you a little bit more in the beginning, but I think ultimately that lifetime value from that consumer will more than pay off.


Britt Erler

I completely agree. Fantastic advice for not just veteran leaders in the industry but also new professionals that are just really getting kick started. Dustin, thank you so much. I really think that you’re gonna be helping a lot of organizations that are following in your footsteps. Thank you to everyone who has joined us today as well. If you have any further questions for Dustin, there will be a discussion forum underneath this presentation. Please be safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the rest of the show.


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