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Episode 5 –
How to Meet Customer Expectations With Bob Armour, CMO of M1 Finance

RESOURCES   ❯   The Marketing Rapport Podcast 1-12-23

Episode Summary

Sales and marketing are the key pillars of any business. While marketing is about building awareness of the brand, sales turns that audience into profit by converting potential customers into actual customers.

But in order to generate revenue for the company, sales and marketing must be connected. They should work in tandem because, for example, there are content and tools required by salespeople that only marketing can provide.

In this episode of The Marketing Rapport, our host Tim Finnigan welcomes Bob Armour, the CMO of M1 Finance. Bob describes what he did at Guaranteed Rate and what he does at M1 Finance, and how to meet customer requirements. Bob and Tim get into marketing issues and discuss the concepts of a mortgage tracker, a bias for action, and ‘the functional why.’


Bob Armour
  • Name: Bob Armour
  • What he does: Bob is the CMO of M1 Finance
  • Noteworthy: Before taking on the role of CMO with M1 Finance, a leading all-in-one money management platform that helps self-directed investors achieve long-term financial wellness, Bob had an extensive career heading marketing efforts for notable brands like Jellyvision and Guaranteed Rate. He has over 20 years of experience as a marketer in internet media and retail companies, both as an operator and a consultant. In addition, Bob is an 80s music lover, especially one-hit wonders, and he was a volunteer high school teacher in American Samoa.
  • Where to find Bob: LinkedIn | Website

Key Insights

  • People want mortgage visibility. Marketing trends change from year to year, and good marketers try to keep up with them to meet consumer expectations. For example, people want to know everything about their mortgage and have visibility into what’s happening with it — and if you don’t fulfill that need, they are likely to leave. Bob notes that a mortgage tracker was one of the features they used at Guaranteed Rate to meet this expectation. “This mortgage tracker helped people get visibility into where their mortgage was in the process and how long it would take; it was a very easy way for the customer to self-serve and find out where it was. And I always found it unique that Domino’s Pizza has a pizza tracker. And if you think about a pizza tracker, you’re only waiting 30 minutes. Do you really need visibility into something that’s going to be at your house in 30 minutes? For something that costs $5.99? But the reality is, that’s what people expect. And so, with a mortgage, if you’re getting a $400,000 mortgage, and you don’t know where it is or how it’s going or anything, there’s a massive disconnect at the customer end.”
  • Marketers need to meet customer expectations built on experience. Even though there is competition among companies, that doesn’t mean they should not talk. Sometimes, it is necessary that marketers talk and benchmark with each other — all in order to satisfy the customers. As Bob explains, based on previous experience, customers will have expectations from you, so you need to know what’s going on outside as well as inside your company. “We’d like to think that our customers pay attention to our thing as much as we do or as much as we think they do; the reality is they don’t. And so when we’re lucky enough to be servicing someone, we better be ready to meet the expectations that they have built up from wherever they’ve built those things up.”
  • Bias for action. At some point, everyone sets the goal of finding a job. But to succeed, you need to find the right job and take the initiative. According to Bob, at M1 Finance, they have some values that they live by, one of which is a bias for action. “If you see something that you think can be valuable to the company, go do it. Never play the victim; play offense. And willingness to kind of push things; even if they’re out of your lane, go and do it if that’s what you’re passionate about, and that’s where you see a need. That’s the intersection of where things are magic because the company appreciates you, and you love doing it. And so, find that intersection.”

Episode Highlights

Battling against the status quo of “it’s fine”

“We are chasing the customers that are currently serviced by all the name-brand financial institutions (Fidelity, Vanguard, Charles Schwab, Chase), and we strongly believe that we have a better product, both in terms of UI, UX, and ease of use, as well as better rates. We offer high-yield checking and savings that are significantly better than any of the banks. We have a credit card that has incredible cashback savings, up to 10%. So our package of UI, UX, and economics is better. Our challenge is the inertia and breaking the inertia of those clients. You ask people where they bank, and they’ll say something like Chase, and then you’ll say, ‘Why are you there when they’re paying you almost nothing in interest?’ And they’ll be like, ‘I don’t know, it’s fine.’ So, we are battling against ‘fine;’ we’re not battling against pain, which is a lot easier to boost people out of. So, we have to show ourselves being better all the time.”

From Guaranteed Rate to M1 Finance

“Guaranteed Rate is a hybrid of in-market loan officers — kind of the traditional loan officers — as well as direct to consumers, where consumers go to a website and get a mortgage. So we tried to leverage both sides of that because there is good with both. The primary difference is that a mortgage is a once, twice, or three-time experience for most people in their entire lives; so, there is this air of mystery and an extreme kind of lack of knowledge about that process. So not like what we do at M1, but at Guaranteed Rate, we tried to demystify the whole process — to boil it down and help people understand how to consider rates, and how to consider credit scores, and what they do to drive the different things in the rates. So we had infield mortgage officers there, where at M1, it’s all direct to consumer and coming to our website and our app, and then there are people internally that will connect with some of our clients. And the things that we’re offering at M1, customers are a little more knowledgeable about them. We appeal to a self-directed, do-it-yourself investor or manager of someone’s wealth.”

The Concept of Inside Out – Outside In

“I call that ‘the functional why.’ Like, why are they there? In the case of M1, it’s, ‘I want to open up a brokerage account.’ Okay, ‘We have awesome brokerage accounts; we can do it all day, every day. Do you want retirement? What do you need?’ A poor marketer, a poor salesperson, stops there and starts answering the question; a better marketer or salesperson takes it to the next level and tries to get to ‘the foundational why,’ which is, ‘Why are you trying to do — fill in the blank — open up a brokerage account by a software as a service?’ ‘The foundational why’ is often the heart of what they’re really trying to do. ‘I’m trying to switch out a system, and I need something that does this,’ or, ‘I need to get a retirement account because I’m looking to retire in 30 years.’ Whatever it is, it’s ‘the foundational why.’ But a super good salesperson or marketer knows that there’s one other ‘why’ that’s out there, and it’s called ‘the universal why.’ And ‘the universal why’ is [true] for most buyers because they don’t want to deal with it anymore; most buyers of the thing are interested enough because it’s solving a problem, but then they want to go back. Once the problem is solved, they want to go back to doing whatever they like doing, — watching ‘The Bachelor,’ who knows what — but they don’t want to deal with your thing anymore.”

Top Quotes

[04:30] “I believe that what you give is what you get, and people sense that, and in a weird way, the universe responds to that.”

[16:41] “As a marketer, I think we should all be aware of what’s happening outside so we can relate to our customers when they’re coming to us for whatever service we have.”

[20:39] “Find the thing you like to do, but then find the company or the industry that’s growing like crazy and get into that, and you’ll find your way to the right thing because you’ll be in the midst of all sorts of things happening.”

[17:00] “Facts, figures, and numbers are important; they’ve gotta be there, and you’ve gotta be competitive. But in a world where you can be just as competitive, and you are more memorable, more likable, or more able to connect with somebody’s heart, you’re going to win.”