CMO Insights: Teresa Caro, Senior Vice President Marketing, Fortiva Financial

May 25, 2017

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Teresa Caro, now SVP and Atlanticus and former Senior Vice President for Fortiva Financial.

In this video, Teresa discusses:

  • How sales, marketing and operations is a lifecycle that requires attention in each stage
  • Why starting with a tactics first approach is the wrong starting point for marketing departments
  • How working along side business development transformed how and what they measure for success.

Learn more about Teresa from her LinkedIn profile and follow both Fortiva Financial and Teresa on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our CMO Insights Playlist on our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to your Revenue Marketing Television Live, the CMO Insights Series. I am your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today we have with us Teresa Caro, Senior Vice President of Marketing of Fortiva. So Teresa, welcome to the show.

Teresa Caro: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet. So tell us a little bit about what you guys, what you guys, what you do.

Teresa Caro:

Well, if you don’t mind, I’m actually going to back up before I talk about 40, but talk a little bit about the industry that we play in because it’ll help better understand,

Jeff Pedowitz:

And the products that we offer that would be great. Great.

Teresa Caro:

So what’s interesting about the space that we, that we work in is we’re in the finance space and I’m sure you’re familiar with credit scores. Eight 50 is a perfect credit score and it goes

Jeff Pedowitz:

Myself. Yeah, I’m guessing you’re I’m up there, but not quite, not quite there.

Teresa Caro:

Then we have less than prime. So that’s depending on how deep the prime providers are going, you’ll have less than prime, which is mid 600 top six hundreds, and then you’ll have the deep impaired credit, which now you’re getting into the 500 range. Right? Okay. Well, what’s really interesting. And what people believe in terms of a subprime or less than prime credit score or an impaired credit score is people sort of get this vision in their head of what that person looks like. And so I brought a few steps. Can I read these off to you? So what’s really interesting about this space. So in 2015, Experian did a research study on the U S population and they found that one third of Americans actually have a credit score, 601…

Jeff Pedowitz:

Wow.

Teresa Caro:

Yes, one, 601 below. So now you’re getting into really impaired credit. And this isn’t something that just is a certain type of generation or a certain type of population. This is all generations. So another interesting statistic, this is TransUnion now. So you have the different credit bureaus. So TransUnion is another one and they took a look at it from a generation perspective. So you have the millennials, which everyone loves talking about the millennials. 43% of the millennials are considered less than prime. So now we’ve moved to more of a less than prime kind of conversation. So 43% of millennials, which I guess you would expect, they’re just coming out of school. They maybe haven’t had a lot of time to build their credit while gen exiters. We’ve had a lot of time to build our credit of a third of gen Xers have impaired credit.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Awesome.

Teresa Caro:

And then 20% of baby boomers. So maybe if they got their acts together by then so 20% of baby boomers are considered less than prime. Well, what’s also interesting is credit.com. Did it an article back in March of 2017, talking about how long it takes to build your credit back again, and it’s seven to 10 years. So for those audience and for you to think about that friend that lost their job in 2007 and they had to start prioritizing, or maybe they had to default on the loan on their home, they had to make some pretty tough decisions. Well, now they have a full time job. They’re paying their bills on time yet it’s going to take them seven to 10 years to repair that credit. Okay. So business opportunity and also customer need opportunity. Right? Well, let’s also add, so also in 2015, this is the federal reserve. They did a research study, almost half of Americans, 46% of Americans. If they have an unexpected expense, greater than $400, they don’t have the money to pay for it. So I don’t know about you, but we live in Georgia and in the middle of August and your HPAC system.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah, that’s fine. You need to fix that. Yeah.

Teresa Caro:

And it’s a little bit more than $400. So there is a consumer need. There is a business opportunity there, correct. And a lot of businesses offer prime credits. If you think about synchrony Wells Fargo in the home improvement space, you have inner bank, those are prime providers, but they only go so deep. And then you have some of the tertiary and the lease purchase companies that you talk about rent rent to own. So they also fill a name for those less than prime type customers. But there’s that middle space. Those people that are starting to repair their credit that have certain aspects of their life, that they are starting to put back together again. And they’re not going to be interested on lease purchase kind of situation. They want prime like credit yet they can’t get it. And so that’s where 40th comes in.

So this is another funny thing. So now we’re going to talk about 40 VA. I have a little bit of a brand challenge. So for Tina has a line of consumer credit products, correct? These consumer credit products are offered by Mid-America bank and trust company, separate organization, not part of Atlanta because they are a bank. So they are the lender now for TIVA consumer product, consumer credit products. If you have three product lines, one is 14 and personal loans for TIVA credit card and 14 retail credit, which we’re going to talk about today. So the first two are direct to consumer more B to C type brands. Retail credit is a B to B to C or in some cases of business to business, to sales to before we actually get to the consumer and generation,

Jeff Pedowitz:

Those were by year you’re providing credit facilities to retail locations. So if it’s something that gets rejected, let’s say for a traditional financing that they, they would be able to use your package so they could purchase whatever they want to do, whether it’s furniture or correct.

Teresa Caro:

So you, you, you have serious home from come to your house. So we’re talking about HPAC. They come to your house and the prime provider turns you down. Will you still need that? It’s a hundred degrees out. You still need the HPAC. We would come in and to do what is called. Take a second, look at your credit score and look at other data factors that play into that. The other interesting thing about her, the branding is so 14 is the brand for mid America Bay. Well, we work for Atlanta office and that’s the 20 year old company. So Atlanta, because this is the company that I worked for 20 year old company. What differentiates us. And it’s fun to watch all the companies that talk about how they’re transforming the space and debunking different ways. When we’ve been doing that for 20 years, we have the deepest, underrated, deep underwriting, very flexible technology, real time decisioning everything’s done online. So that’s our story.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. So you have all the apps that you said, but you said you had a challenge. So what’s your challenge.

Teresa Caro:

So the challenge is, is those are three brands that I just talked about. So you have the corporate brand and then you have the 14 brand of products, and then you have the Mid-America bank that is also plays a part in it. And so it’s making sure that people trust in the company that’s been around for 20 years trust in the, in the product, that product for Teva and also trust in our bank partner Mid-America bank.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So now, so it’s interesting, cause not every CML has to deal with both the B to B and B to C. So you’re kind of straddling both. So how, how are you setting up your team to do that? Do you, or is there two different teams? Are you having like a core team manageable and how do you approach this?

Teresa Caro:

It depends. So both there’s a hybrid aspect of it. And so there are certain experts, one that focuses on consumer and one team that focuses on consumer and the other, the focus is on PDB. Cause as you can imagine, and this goes to one of the challenges and the innovation piece actually that you talked about is we are a 20 year old company that has been born on credit card. We are very good at the credit card business with the credit card, consumer business, direct response, 80% of most companies know that if they do this, they will get this result. And then they have the 20% that they use for testing. Correct. Okay. Well, if you look at a couple of years ago, when I came in and retail credit’s been around for more than that, you come in and this company needed to better understand how to handle business to business marketing, right?

It’s different business to consumer, you send out the piece, you get your response and you can have a good sense of what kind of response are you getting B to B may take two weeks and Nick take four years, right? You have the different challenges of, we might have a brand awareness and not just brand awareness around the 14th, but brand awareness around financing. Are they using financing yet or not? Do they understand the value of financing? Do they understand what second luck even means? And the value of that piece, do they understand for Teva and how we compared to our competitors? Is there an incumbent? And so we need to convince them to the champion challenger or displace them. And so that kind of conversation can happen in a brief amount of time or a long period of time. And so that’s a different skill set.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So what does that mean? So certainly from a company you’re probably measured on that new applications, processed credit growth. I guess if people repeat purchases in marketing, what are you going to finish? What are your, what kind of outcomes are you held accountable for it

Teresa Caro:

Back up a second. I’d love to answer. There was a question you and I were talking about before, around strategy. Okay. Because that’ll help in terms of how we’re measured because we do it a little bit differently than most marketing and sales organizations. And, and strategy is a pretty exciting conversation for me. In fact, if you looked at my LinkedIn profile, I have a presentation that is about game of Thrones and how today’s, especially with the digital marketing organizations coming up. So but you know, game of Thrones in terms of you have the different kingdoms, so they lost their kid, right? And so you have all these different sub kingdoms and they’re all fighting to be the lead King and they can’t make a decision of who did you look in? Digital marketing email grows up in their way. Social advertising, public relations are all growing up and these different silos. And typically they are not integrated. The whole thing about integrated marketing communications that we learned about an MBA school has in a lot of ways been forgotten. In fact, eMarketer did a research study, 80% of marketing departments incorrectly start with tactics first, before they have a stress.

Jeff Pedowitz:

It doesn’t surprise me. Yeah.

Teresa Caro:

So that’s a, that’s a big challenge. Right? and so what I have always taught, so I’ll speak first in general terms. What I have always done with my clients when I was on the agency side, or even on the brand side is you need to start with business objectives, not marketing objectives, business objectives, things CEO’s will talk about what their shareholders, their investors. And so sales is easy, right? Sales is easy, but there’s other aspects you need to uncover. Is it a brand awareness challenge, a brand perception challenge is your competitor going around and telling people that you’re going out of business and really look at your current situation and realize, you know, it sorta looks like we’re going out of business. We need to fix that. Is it repeat purchase? Is it how, like I say, that’s an important business objective that you can then measure and report that back to your shareholders. 

And then the next layer underneath that, if you have the difference between KPIs and metrics as marketers, we all know that opens clicks engagement with social time on site, all important metrics as we test and optimize our different channels. Right? But those are not going to track that to the C suite sales is easy. So email you’re going to be able to track sales. It’s those other business objectives that become pretty difficult to track. And you need to agree at a top level organization. What they’re going to be for a brand perception. Are you going to do a pre survey and a post survey? Are you going to look at the quality of your leads, the type of leads, quantity of your leads versus a year from now two years from now, those are all important pieces that you need to decide, because going back to your question about how are you going to be measured. Those things need to be agreed upon, and then you can prioritize his strategy statements and your tactics and all of those pieces. Now for tuba, what we’re pretty proud about is the head of business development, Mike Fredricks and myself. So the number SVP, we both report up to the presidency. We both have that valued seat at the table. So we all collaborate together to put together that strategy. We put in place a strategy that has those business objectives. We have all agreed on the KPIs and how we’re going to.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I think you’re going to be really popular after this interview. [inaudible] Talk about this. They want better alignment. They’re trying to figure out how to get in line with their CEO or CFO. You’re giving them basically the roadmap.

Teresa Caro:

Well, and I have it all laid out. It’s a big of,

Jeff Pedowitz:

You have one of those big walls in your office where it’s like, I’ll drop my house,

Teresa Caro:

His house. And you know, some of my my fellow coworkers on the agency side are going to laugh right now. They’ll let you know that the Teresa’s house story, but really that goes a long way to get to how are we measured? And again, Mike and I are very excited about the fact that because we do this jointly because the budget is created and we’re both held accountable for that budget jointly, we don’t really get into the SQL sales qualified, lead marketing, qualified, lead challenges. There’s not a lot of how many dials of is sales teammate. How many meetings are they have? There’s not a lot of that. We’re not, we need to be nimble. There’s more, here’s our, we all love talking about account based marketing now, right? It’s a very, yes this year and you and I have been in the business a while and we know account based marketing is just a new way of saying the same thing.

What is your prioritized list? Right. And Mike and I have agreed upon that and we’re all going after that. And so when we talked to Jeff it’s about who on that list, have we captured? How has that list grow? Because there’s more companies that we discover that actually fit our ICP or ideal customer profile. And, and how many of those have we closed? And then really in terms of measurement, he and I are looking more at touch points and Jeff doesn’t get into that. But like Mike and I, and, and the person held responsible for retail credit, she and Mike and I are all, we’re all looking at Tesla, we’re all looking at how does that work and how to, how to optimize those efficiencies. And there’s a few people on the retail credit team that are responsible for doing that.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s awesome. So I got to see Teresa’s house. You have a picture [inaudible]

Teresa Caro:

But have you looked at LinkedIn that PowerPoint about the game of Thrones? I actually teach people and I’ve spoken at different universities about how do you just sit down and have that conversation. And it really is it looking at my career, it’s transformational. You take, even as something as simple as a major organization with a small wallet size social team, that can’t be proven as relevant in the organization, as soon as they took the business objectives that were being used somewhere else is to, as soon as they took that and started measuring themselves to those business objectives is amazing on how it transformed in a year.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah. it’s, it’s funny that you mentioned that cause we, we preach that too. So so tell me a little bit because you, you are working with different audiences, so how do you approach technology strategically and you know, how are you using it to scale how using it to engage audiences? Do you feel yet, or the need that it’s a lot of questions

Teresa Caro:

It’s yeah. And then it ties in nicely to that business objective conversation. And where I talked about in terms of touch points, we’re a technology organization, flexible technology, real time decisioning. So we get technology that said we don’t do technology for technology’s sake. So every piece of technology that we inject in needs to meet a particular business need, we actually need to show that by putting it in and generated return on investment, not necessarily in terms of incremental sales, but being able to do more with the same amount of people. And also integration is the name of the game. Cause that’s another thing too, that you ended up, especially in larger organizations, you end up with a piece of technology here and then here and here, and they don’t really communicate easily and it doesn’t necessarily have to be an API that could be some kind of simple handoff. 

And so we’ve done a lot of research in the past year, we had to enforce CRM, okay. Which is a great Salesforce automation solution. We’ve actually partnered with them to create some custom solutions to help us with the full life cycle process. We also looked at just not necessarily a marketing automation platform, just for marketing, we need an, a marketing automation platform that allowed sales and marketing to go back and forth because we don’t generate the lead and throw it over. We actually worked back and forth. And so we needed a solution that helped us do that.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Which one are you using? Okay.

Teresa Caro:

Yes. So we’ve been pushing that one hard because HubSpot is known as an inbound marketing tool, that little known fact that they also have a free CRM solution as well.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So you cut over for a minute for Sierra of spot or you’re using HubSpot.

Teresa Caro:

There is an integration points. Okay. So that’s what we’re putting them together, but that’s our competitive differentiator. Cool.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay, great. Okay. so do you think, I mean, it’s, it’s interesting, cause you mentioned that with technology, you expected to do more at the same, and we’ve seen this in the market where marketers are buying more technology, but they’re not getting budget to add more head count. So what they, sometimes they find themselves overwhelmed because they bought this technology to help them scale. But now they have so much technology. They don’t have people to use the technologies that they find themselves kind of like a miss in this loop. Do you see some of that too?

Teresa Caro:

Absolutely. And that was, as we were, as we were looking at different marketing automation and, and really Salesforce automation, because we knew we wanted the two to work together at the particular price point that we needed, knowing that we couldn’t add another head count until we prove this actually worked. That was a big part of it. And that’s, there’s a reason why these technology organizations are hiring service teams because what inevitably happens is people go, yes, that’s exactly what I want. It solves all these business challenges that we have yet. They don’t realize that yes, it creates a lot more efficiencies, but there still needs to be someone that does it. It just actually run by itself. And that’s a big question again, going back to that seat at the table and then that back and forth between our boss and Mike and myself is in the rest of my retail credit team. Is Jeff asking us, do I have to add another person in order to do this? And that’s part of the equation that we have to include.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Interesting. So you talked a lot about your different customers. How have you organized your marketing activities for the customer life cycle for both the BDC side, as well as the BTB side?

Teresa Caro:

Absolutely. Let’s start with B2B from a lifecycle perspective. And again, it ties back to technology and strategies and objectives and the life cycle comes into play because you have to generate that awareness. You do the nurturing, then you convert the lead, but then it goes up into the life cycle. Doesn’t truly begin until they’re trained. And even then some go off in their fund and other aspects, you know, and a lot of people out there and your viewing audience know this, you close it, especially on the B2B side, you close it, but then nothing happens. It goes back to the, they bought all this technology, but then no one knows how to use it or wasn’t properly allocated or there wasn’t strategy. So we make sure that there is a handoff from the people who do the training back to back to us. So from a B2B life cycle, some people like talking about smartness, marketing, never seen the two kids in the t-shirt.

Well, we actually put a third kid in that t-shirt and we call it small operations. And so lifecycle is the different departments. It’s understanding that audience that we’re working with and the different needs of that audience through the life cycle. So the contract signer is a completely different need and different persona than the salesperson. And so understanding that every step of the way, understanding the department that needs to touch them, that channel, that message is very important in terms of the consumer. Again, it depends on the product, our personal loan product. There is a particular need. They need the cash they needed now. And they get it and then they pay it off. And so the life cycle is just helping them remember to their loan off credit card is a different piece in that we sort of similar to my retail credit business and that we got them link cards right now.

We need to get them to use the card and use their, our card first. And so there again, there’s a relationship marketing piece to that. So it’s really simple. There’s nothing new on that. The biggest piece though, is prioritization and measurement and tying it back to those business objectives, business objectives. That’s really as well. And prior to the station is a tough one, too. Especially as you’re in a nimble organization or the lean organization, that’s different marketers like to use. And so there’s a lot of conversations around what priorities do you want to place on different activities? And those priorities may shift. We do on the retail credit side. Well, I’m really am on both sides. We do every six month business strategy strategy sessions, because you never know, you think you have this and then something changes or you’re very effective here and now you want to prioritize something else.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So this has been a very powerful 15 minutes. We’ve covered brand we’ve covered business, objective alignment, strategy personnel, technology, customer life cycle B to B, B to C.

Teresa Caro:

You really made me think, cause we,

Jeff Pedowitz:

So any parting thoughts of wisdom that you would tell your fellow CML, what should they be thinking about?

Teresa Caro:

Yeah, well stretching that’s the first one, definitely stress. And we teased about account based marketing. Yet. I really liked that there was a fresh perspective on that in a fresh conversation because I really feel like we got lost. We as B2B marketers got lost in the spray and pray aspect, how let’s push the content out, let’s get inbound marketing in which inbound marketing still plays a role, but it’s not a hundred percent there needs to be that next. And also you need to be thinking about those particular accounts and what they specifically need, not just getting engagement, cause back to metrics versus KPIs. If you’re having your content strategist being measured on how many breeds they get for a particular piece of content, then they’re going to shift how they do it versus how many quality holiday, all of five people read that and tracking it back to that account. So let’s to touch points, keeping track of what kind of touch points, how many touch points, efficiencies integration across departments, this small operations aspect of it. And then marketing one-on-one test track pivot. If you need to accelerate, repeat as tests on my team, always like saying wash, rinse, repeat and watch game of Thrones. Well, absolutely.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Very well, Teresa, thank you so much. This was awesome today, and we’ll definitely have to do it again soon.

Teresa Caro:

Appreciate it, thank you.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet. Thank you everybody.

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