As my colleague Megan Lester reported a few weeks ago, this year’s LendIt conference was filled with amazing energy and content from the opening keynote in the morning to the last session of the conference. One of the most interesting sessions from my perspective was listening to Harit Talwar, head of digital finance for Goldman Sachs, talk about Marcus. For those who haven’t heard about it, Marcus is the new online lending division that Goldman Sachs launched last year.
As Megan mentioned, panelists from the “Consumer Lending Leaders of Tomorrow” session observed that direct mail is the workhorse when comes to driving the vast majority of leads to online lending platforms. So it wasn’t a surprise to hear from Talwar and read in American Banker that direct mail played a key role in the successful launch of Marcus.
As Talwar observed, “Who would have thought last year there would be millions of pieces of direct mail from Goldman Sachs?” It’s fascinating to see the successful blend of old and new marketing approaches that were used to launch Marcus. While the Marcus office culture is described as being like a tech startup, the team did not hesitate to use “old school” direct mail to attract consumers.
My colleague Debora Haskel has often described direct mail as the “Betty White of marketing” because of its ability to continue to deliver results and adapt to a changing audience. As a music lover, I like to think of direct mail as the vinyl of marketing. It may seem vintage and retro to some, but the quality of the leads it delivers is unsurpassed by other channels.
As the Marcus launch team clearly understands, direct mail was key to the successful launch of a new financial product for these four reasons:
- Consumers trust direct mail. We’re pretty certain there wasn’t a single recipient of a Marcus direct mail piece that wondered if the envelope in his or her mailbox was real or part of a sophisticated phishing scam. That question might have occurred if the envelope was an icon in his or her email inbox.
- Direct mail has a personal touch that can’t be felt on a screen. Recipients of direct mail can touch, carry, open, and read it. It comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, components, colors, and messages that get envelopes (like the one used for Marcus) opened and acted upon.
- Direct mail can be highly personalized. It uses data-driven personalization based on consumer behavior triggers to deliver the 1:1 messaging and images that are now possible with variable data printing.
- Direct mail has a shelf life. Direct mail can stay in the home for days or weeks. Compare that to email: if email isn’t opened immediately, it gets lost in the flood of messages that follow it.
It’s been observed that Marcus is a test of whether or not a legacy bank can compete with startups in building the next generation of finance. We’ll be watching closely and continuing to bring new ideas to power their marketing. If you’d like to hear more about how direct mail can be part of your product launch, contact me here.
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