Q&A: TD Bank Gets Human With Localized Marketing

Posted on by Beth Negus Viveiros
TD’s Arianna Orpello

A localized approach that embraces the human side of retail banking is helping TD Bank connect with consumers in the crowded financial services space.

Chief Marketer recently chatted with Arianna Orpello, TD’s SVP of brand, channel, community and field marketing strategy, about the bank’s “Unexpectedly Human” marketing strategy. Through videos created with agency TBWA\Chiat\Day New York and extensive engagement via social and other channels, the campaign highlights the human side of banking, such as the fact that everyone forgets their passwords, and sometimes, even bank managers like to dance after hours.

On a local level, TD is connecting in several ways, such as participation in LGBTQ pride events around the country and Small Business Takeovers at Boston’s TD Garden. “We need to think about the intricacies and differences of our local markets,” says Orpello, whose financial marketing experience prior to joining TD three years ago includes time at ING and Capital One. “We pride ourselves on being a local layer and being part of the community.”

CHIEF MARKETER: Financial services in general and retail banking in particular is a crowded space. What are your biggest marketing challenges?

ARIANNA ORPELLO: We spend a fraction of what our competitors spend—we really are outspent significantly. That means we have to hit a homerun on everything we’re doing. When we’re putting stories in the marketplace, we can’t just say things. The narrative needs to reflect what we are doing with our customers. We need to do things differently and live what we’re putting out in the market. That is the essence of “Unexpectedly Human.” We’re outspent, and  frankly, our growth targets aren’t much below [the bigger] guys, so we have to punch above our weight. That’s a massive marketing challenge.

CM: Tell me about “Unexpectedly Human.” What was the thinking behind going out with a message that was fun and a bit quirky, particularly as a bank that might be expected to be serious?

ORPELLO: It was really born out of a year and a half of work with our team, doing a lot of listening. It’s not meant to be a campaign, even though the external manifestation of it is marketing and advertising. It’s really meant to be a north star and a guidepost for us internally in terms of how we show up for our customers, in our communities. We did a lot of research and found that consumers love us for our spirit. The people who work at our banks love what they do and that desire to go above and beyond for their community and their customers was the genesis of the campaign. We want our brand to connect with how people think and talk in today’s environment. Just because you’re talking about money and financial services doesn’t mean you have to be stodgy. You can connect with people on a human level.


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CM: Was getting buy in from your c-suite for this type of marketing an issue?

ORPELLO: We had a really sound strategy and alignment with them before we started the work, which was focused on resonating with consumers under 40. We had a lot of data showing that this was resonating. Some people were worried that it might be going too far, but generally they understood that you had to make choices and take risks with the type of marketing you put out there. We didn’t have the option of not breaking through, so we needed to be fun and conversational.

CM: How does your goal of connecting with customers on a local and regional level fit into the initiative?

ORPELLO: “Unexpectedly Human” is a about connecting with customers on a human level. One of the things we talked about was that we have great brand assets, like our stores or TD Garden in Boston. And, we have great small business owners with great stories. What is more human than giving away your space to a small business that needs the exposure? We’ve executed Small Business Takeovers a few times at TD Garden with small business customers [like SunBug Solar]. We’d done other things in our store network like merchandising small business customers in our store windows to put that narrative in the marketplace. And we’re planning another campaign later this year to thank small businesses for their contributions to our communities and keeping main street America a vibrant place.

CM: Is most of your marketing targeted at consumers, businesses or a mix of both?

ORPELLO: Definitely a mixture of both – in the past we’ve done a lot of consumer marketing that has relevancy for small businesses. If you think about our longer store hours proposition, that’s relevant to consumers and also to businesses. We try to think about value propositions that are relevant to both business and retail and consumer consumers. Consumers really care about the health of small businesses, there’s a movement of entrepreneurism and they connect to the idea of starting small businesses. We really believe driving the health of small businesses is relevant to our economy and our future.

CM: What are TD’s main marketing channels?

ORPELLO: Over time, we’ve shifted pretty significantly to digital—it’s a pretty aggressive trend line. When we think about TV and video, we think about content and how we interact. We still believe that storytelling and the narrative aspect of our business is critical, and it’s hard to get that across in a banner ad. The true consumer connection is critical.  And we still do invest significantly in some of the stuff that others have walked away from—we have a large field marketing team that is still on the ground. We think about what is important in communities—that’s where ideas like the small business takeover are born, in the relationship between small business owners and people out in the field. That helps differentiate us from a community perspective.

CM: Is event marketing out in the field part of your localized strategy?

ORPELLO: I don’t know if I’d call it traditional event marketing, but we do things we call TD Sightings, where our field marketing managers show up at small

small business customers and do things like buy out their restaurant or car wash for an hour. It’s more guerilla marketing, surprise and delight, and delivering something to the community that has a connection for our small business customer.

CM: How do you gauge the ROI of your marketing efforts?

ORPELLO: We do a lot of different things. At the highest level, are we moving awareness and consideration in our market, pre and post launch of campaigns. Are we seeing things like account growth numbers going up, because people are more connected to us? Are we seeing people choosing us at a higher purchase rate in certain markets? Then some of the things are more qualitative—is social media chatter more positive? Is it having an impact on the sentiment? We come at it from a number of different ways. It’s also important to us whether our colleagues are connected. We’ve seen a direct correlation with how engaged people are with our brand and how that translates to how people feel.

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