Ellyn Raftery
October 22, 2021

How FIS CMO Spells Brand

Guest: Ellyn Raftery - CMO, FIS

What does B2B success look like? Some might say that it looks like $12 billion in annual revenue with over 60,000 employees serving more than 20,000 clients in 130 countries, and in that case, FIS is right on the money. So why did the financial services company decide to turn their focus to building brand awareness?

In this episode, CMO Ellyn Raftery shares how FIS simplified its brand after acquiring Worldpay, streamlining a docket of 800+ products into 10 distinct categories and one brand story as it shifted into a B2B2C mindset.

Tune in to learn how FIS developed the new brand, how they made it real, and how it’s setting them up for even more growth in the future. Plus, learn Ellyn’s secret to CMO longevity—she’s been at FIS for 9 years!

What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • How B2B company values helped FIS adapt during COVID
  • How FIS developed and rolled out its new brand
  • Why great B2B branding increases business value

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 263 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned

Time-Stamped Highlights

  • [0:26] On Coming Back to the Office and Employee Retention
  • [6:16] Ellyn’s Secret to CMO Longevity
  • [10:24] How FIS’ Values Helped Them Adapt During COVID
  • [17:12] 800+ Products, 1 Brand Story
  • [22:01] How FIS Arrived at its New Brand Story
  • [28:07] FIS’ New Brand Story
  • [33:37] How FIS Made its New Brand Story Real
  • [40:07] The Business Value of B2B Awareness
  • [45:11] Two Dos and a Don’t for a B2B Rebranding

Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Ellyn Raftery

[0:26] On Coming Back to the Office and Employee Retention

“Most of the leadership team, particularly those of us here in Jacksonville, are back in the office. We're in a hybrid mode right now.” —@ellynraftery1 @FISglobal Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers! In the land of business-to-business marketing, brand awareness is often an afterthought. Many a B2B CFO or board of directors or investors will say, “Why waste money buying share of mind when it won’t necessarily translate into share of wallet?”

As such, it is quite possible to have a company with roughly $12 billion in annual revenue, with over 60,000 employees serving more than 20,000 clients in 130 countries—and yet have modest awareness outside of your immediate customer base.

Of course, I’m not making up these numbers. These are the stats for a financial services company called FIS. And in today’s episode, you’re going to meet Ellyn Raftery, the CMO of FIS for the last nine years, and learn why FIS has had a change of heart if you will about the importance of awareness and how they are now marketing the company. So, with that, Ellyn, welcome to the show.

Ellyn Raftery: Wow, it’s great to be here with you, Drew. Thanks for the invite.

Drew Neisser: My pleasure! Did I get those stats mainly right?

Ellyn Raftery: Wow. Yeah, they’re incredible stats and growing every single day! Growing, growing, growing.

Drew Neisser: That’s awesome. So, I always like to do this because we’re in a pandemic, and people are not necessarily where their companies are. Where are you right now?

Ellyn Raftery: Literally, I am sitting in Jacksonville, Florida; the sunny state of Florida with high humidity and surrounded by beautiful views of water and waterways. It’s really gorgeous here in Jacksonville.

Drew Neisser: Nice, nice! And remind me where that company is headquartered?

Ellyn Raftery: We are headquartered here in Jacksonville. In fact, I’m sitting in our current headquarter location, but I’m looking at the building right outside the window of our new headquarters that is under construction. Hard to believe we’re building a new building in the midst of a pandemic, but it was started ahead of the pandemic and we’re moving forward.

Drew Neisser: These are long-term planning cycles and there is a post-pandemic world—how quickly we get there… who knows? And as a financial services company, I know there’s a lot of urgency to get back in the office… Are you in the office, mainly? Is the company?

Ellyn Raftery: Well, yes and no. I personally am. Most of the leadership team, particularly those of us here in Jacksonville, are back in the office. We’re in a hybrid mode right now.

We’re on a volunteer basis in some of our locations in the US and a few of our locations outside the US. Only can come into the office, though, if you are vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated, we’re asking people to stay at home. That will start to change.

As we get through the fourth quarter, we’ll start to reassess things and make those decisions. We did start to bring everybody back, but then when the Florida numbers went so high around the COVID variant, we rolled everything back and sent everybody back home. It’s been a little bit of a “test and learn” for us.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I read a couple of things, recently. One: most of the Silicon Valley companies who were really the bellwether for this because they seem to be ahead of the curve on a lot of this, most of them have announced now, January.

Ellyn Raftery: Yeah, I think that we’ll be on a volunteer basis probably until January at least.

Drew Neisser: And then who knows? Again, it just seems to be this endless scenario. Another thing I’m thinking about, I saw an article today, I’m curious what you think about it. It was talking about how there’s a number of employees—because you’re a growing company so you’re adding employees—and they were added during the pandemic, and they were added remotely.

There seems to be a fair amount of turnover for those individuals because they are less bonded to the company and the individual because they’ve never actually met them. I’m curious, have you had any surprise kind of “Oh my gosh, they started, and they left!” kind of defections?

Ellyn Raftery: No. There’s the term out there being used called the “Great Resignation.” Seeing a lot of turnovers in companies generally speaking, and we are seeing that. We’re not seeing it necessarily around the new hires that we’ve brought in over the last 12 to 18 months.

Although it was kind of fun—when we did open our Jacksonville office, there was a number of people that showed up that day that had been hired during the pandemic and they had no idea where to go inside the building and we had no idea where to send them, so it was a fun meet and greet trying to figure out where they belonged.

We’re not seeing a lot of the new ones leaving, but we are seeing, much like many other companies, we’re seeing The Great Resignation. The Great Retirement, too. I don’t know if you’re seeing that, but we’re starting to see a lot of people deciding to retire.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. I think the pandemic has certainly got a lot of soul searching on a lot of different levels. And really, if your job doesn’t feel right, people are just sort of saying, “Ah, I feel like I can get something else. Life is too short.” And it is just really an interesting moment.

But it puts a lot of pressure on the CMO and it also speaks to our bigger conversation about the role of brand in retention and recruiting, right? And if your company is better known, it’s easier to hire talent.

[6:16] Ellyn’s Secret to CMO Longevity

“I think it's really important as a senior leader to really build the relationships at the top.” —@ellynraftery1 @FISglobal Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: I mentioned at the top of the show that you’ve been in your position for nine years. And that’s like triple, depending on where you listen to, the average tenure of the CMO. And you had, by the way, a similar run at Unisys way back in the aughts. What’s the story with your longevity? I mean, what’s your secret?

Ellyn Raftery: It’s a great question. I think I’ve been extremely fortunate that in all of the companies that I’ve worked for, I’ve had a terrific leadership team; very high integrity, very self-directed, very tuned into the marketplace, and really tuning the company in terms of strategic pivots and where we need to move.

I think it’s really important as a senior leader to really build the relationships at the top, to have the understanding from the CEO, the CFO, some of the other executives, on the role of marketing and how marketing can really help pivot, drive growth, bring customer experience, really drive the voice of the client.

In my role, I’ve also taken on commercialization, which is the linkage between the internal value chain and getting something to market, which is so important from a marketing perspective. It’s really afforded me the opportunity to build really strong relationships with our leadership team, and have marketing and communications present at the right time. I feel really fortunate I’ve been able to do that.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. Now, have you had the same CEO for the last nine years?

Ellyn Raftery: I was hired by the COO who is now the CEO… I’ve moved along with the COO, and he’s been in his role for about six years.

Drew Neisser: Got it. I had Kathy Button Bell on the show, who’s worked for 22 years, I think, at this point, and she’s worked for the same CEO. And the company has gone through a zillion different iterations, so she’s never bored. Because I do think some CMOs listening will say “Nine years is great, congratulations!” But on the other hand, they may be the kinds that they define themselves as builders, they do their three years, and they’re ready for the next thing.

Ellyn Raftery: I think that’s a really great point and I’d like to pick up on that because this is a company that’s reinvented itself multiple times. When I started nine years ago, it was a $4 billion Fortune 500 company. We are significantly larger today with more than 3x the portfolio, so our total reach around the world is massive. And the money movement that we do across the world is two to three times the size of our next couple of competitors combined.

The pivot the company has made has been tremendous, and it does keep the job super exciting. But the other thing I want to pick up on is, the relationship with the leadership team allows you as a CMO, especially if you’re directing communications, to build the culture of the company and to pivot that culture along with the strategic market pivots.

That’s one of the things that I’m really, really proud that we’ve been able to do here—building a strong culture. Given that we’re a very acquisitive company, we’ve purchased large companies and brought them in through integration, so that’s always very hard to do because you’re blending two very, very different cultures and then creating a new culture moving forward. We’ve done that several times.

And I’ll tell you, getting through the COVID situation would have been so much more difficult if we had not just rolled out our new company values literally six weeks before the world shut down. It was a great opportunity for us to really lean into those core values and help shape the messaging as we were going through the work-from-home and having the world shut down altogether.

[10:24] How FIS’ Values Helped Them Adapt During COVID

“Getting through the COVID situation would have been so much more difficult if we had not just rolled out our new company values literally six weeks before the world shut down. —@ellynraftery1 @FISglobal Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: I’d like to spend a little time on that. What was your role when it came to helping develop these values and then communicating those values? Talk a little bit about that process.

Ellyn Raftery: I’ll take you back two years ago when we acquired the Worldpay Business; very, very strong business that was, at the time we acquired them, Vantiv and Worldpay had recently merged, so it was a company that was rebranding themselves and re-exploring who they were.

When we acquired that combined organization, we re-evaluated our brand and started back at the beginning, really looking at all pieces of our strategic position, our brand positioning, our core values, what our differentiators were in this new combined organization.

We brought voices in from all around the world and from all sides of the company. We started first with the brand and we had about 50 days to go from FIS today to FIS with a combined Worldpay, so we rebranded the company in about 50 days, which was a massive effort, but just a beginning.

And then from there, we worked very, very closely with our TPO organization, our people office. I partnered very, very closely with our head of our people office to create a framework for developing our new core values.

We actually went through a process of doing that in the Fall, then we began to roll those out at our leadership summit, which was in early February. I think early March is when went into the COVID lockdown, so we had just begun rolling new core values out across the organization, first to the leadership team and then to the rest of the organization.

We had a whole rolling thunder communication program around it. It was a great way for us to lean into our company stories, our employee stories, our hero stories, those kinds of things that were happening as we were going through the pandemic.

Drew Neisser: Last question before we take a break on the values—can you tell me what they are?

Ellyn Raftery: They are: Lead with Integrity, Be the Change, and Win as One Team.

Drew Neisser: Lead with integrity. Be the change. And what was the third?

Ellyn Raftery: Win as a team.

Drew Neisser: Win as a team. With those values, how do you make values like that real and meaningful to employees? You can put them up on a sign and they’re written, but how do they become livable, breathable things that actually impact behavior?

Ellyn Raftery: When we started, Worldpay had six core values and FIS had six or five. When you get to a number much more than four, it’s hard to remember. And then when you start saying, “Well, let’s take some of yours and some of ours,” it doesn’t quite work because you’re not building where the future is. We started with a blank sheet and really started all over. We wanted to keep it narrow, so we wanted to keep it to three, no more than four, so that they were really memorable.

The idea with the communication strategy was to start to tell hero stories. That became extremely easy for us once we went into the COVID lockdown because there were so many things that were happening around the company that were just really heroic things.

From India to Tunisia to Europe to the United States, the things that were being done on behalf of our clients to keep them up and running. Literally, people in India who were living in hotels because they were critical infrastructure staff could go into the offices on a day in and day out basis because we move money.

There are PCI compliance kinds of things that we have to be very cognizant of for our clients, so having our employees come into the office to be able to manage our clients’ business was super important. Just many of the heroic things that our employees did on behalf of our clients to keep them up and running was really a way for us to showcase how people were leading with integrity or how they were driving new change, new business models.

It used to take many weeks, if not months, to implement a large banking system for a client; we had to learn how to do that digitally with no people onsite. That’s a new business model. And that’s a model that was invented while we went through COVID and is here to stay.

But it took a lot of ingenuity from our employees to be able to do that, to figure out—we can’t travel, we can’t go on to the employee site, how do we implement this system for them? And so there are a lot of case stories like that.

We created videos and we created lots of opportunities for employees to share their stories. It brought really a sense of unity and really bringing people together. We’re all in this together and I’m sure you’ve talked to a lot of CMOs who’ve had similar stories to tell, but the timing of everything for us could not have been more perfect in terms of leveraging those core values to bring a common sense of unity for the team.

Show Break: CMO Huddles

If you don’t mind, I’d like to plug CMO Huddles for a second. Launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an invitation-only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described Huddles as “Timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment,” while another called it “A cross between an expert workshop and a therapy session.” If you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care with the best of them, visit CMOHuddles.com or send me an email to see if you qualify for a guest pass.

[17:12] 800+ Products, 1 Brand Story

“It was a whole new challenge for us in terms of not only how you tell the story of the company, but tell it in a way that was compelling to the new buyer audience.” —@ellynraftery1 @FISglobal Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: We spent a fair amount of time talking about the values and that got us right into COVID, but now let’s make this pivot to brand and how you got to this story and the focus on FIS. For example, you have a lot of products, let’s just start there, and where the brand was—which was a lot of different products—to how do we move the organization to a bigger story?

Ellyn Raftery: Yeah, so when we brought the two companies together, Drew, we found ourselves with a massive portfolio of over 850-some products. And when I say products, these are large financial technology systems of all different sorts that move money, that allow people to pay their complicated banking systems and financial transaction systems.

You can get mired in the detail of the business and get really dragged down by that when you’re trying to think through “How do we bring these two companies together and tell a simple story that gets people interested and is compelling?”

Drew Neisser: I am so with you on telling a simple story, and why that’s so important on multiple levels, whether it’s employees, customers, or prospects. I talk a lot about that in my book, but why did you feel you needed to have a simple story?

Ellyn Raftery: Well, we have a really diverse audience base—our company grew up in the financial institution space as our audience. But with the acquisition of Worldpay, we really saw ourselves extending into many different verticals.

We not only had to bring the brand forward into these verticals, we had to actually introduce the brand to the verticals. It was a whole new challenge for us in terms of how you tell the story of the company but tell it in a way that was compelling to the new buyer audience.

Drew Neisser: Right. We know that we want to have this simple story, and we know it because we’ve got all these new audiences, they don’t know who FIS is. What was the process that you went through to find this quote “simple story”?

Ellyn Raftery: Well, it wasn’t easy. As you can imagine, there were a lot of helpful comments and input from around the business. But that was important actually, because we needed to immerse ourselves in the business to really understand the new combined company and the value of the portfolio that we had, because we could bring solutions from our financial audience into our merchant audience and vice versa.

We really had to understand that in order to be able to simplify. So, bringing the business, the sales organization, and our line-in business leaders into the mix was super important.

Another important piece of it was to really think about our business in a mirror view, meaning we’re a B2B—so we sell to other businesses—but we wanted to take our messaging out to the end client, the end-user.

Really shifting our storyline around what we were offering that really made the lives of their customers easier on a day in and day out basis. How we were helping them live, work, and play in a different in a unique way through the technology that we were bringing.

Drew Neisser: So the big observation here is: The old FIS would just say, “These are our products and services. What do you want?” The new FIS says “We’re thinking about the customers’ customers and how our products help them.” And so suddenly now that you’re thinking about the customers’ customers, you’re talking about putting on your B2C hat and thinking about that.

That’s really interesting. I want to make that point and sort of pause on this because a lot of CMOs have a large portfolio of products and the product managers are saying, “I need messaging for this!” and “I need messaging for that!” And what happens is what I call the Peanut Butter Effect, the brand gets diluted and spread really thin across all of these product lines. And there’s no single story that brings everything together.

Without that—it’s just funny—it’s harder to have a strong culture, it’s harder to have a strong brand.

[22:01] How FIS Arrived at its New Brand Story

“Marketing always needs to be pulling the organization to some degree.” —@ellynraftery1 @FISglobal Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: So you did all this work, you talked to your employees in the lines of business, and you talked to customers?

Ellyn Raftery: We did. We talked to customers, and we talked to industry analysts and investor analysts.

Drew Neisser: Okay, and were you working with—were you doing all this work in-house or did you have an outside partner?

Ellyn Raftery: No, we had an outside partner. We actually had two. One was our strategic brand partner Lippincott and our creative partner Doremus.

Drew Neisser: Lippincott and Doremus. Very cool. So, this is a story that I think a lot of CMOs know: You do all the homework, the agency comes back with some ideas, how did you know that you were on the right path? Did you test ideas? Or did they presented one and you go, “That’s it!”

Ellyn Raftery: Well, a little bit of both. They brought back some strategic territories for us that felt strong based on all the input they had gotten from executives, internal executives, and the external audiences. There were a few of the strategic territories that felt really comfortable for us.

We did some baseline testing of that. We also began working with them on a new architecture for our website, which we’re in the process of redeveloping right now. And that new architecture was a way for us to take these 800 different solutions that have 9 million pages on a giant website—the idea here is really to get it down to a simple story so when someone comes into the site, they know what it is that we do.

We got that down to about 10 different categories that have some nice tiering underneath it, but it gives a very simple story on top in terms of being a destination for innovators. If you want to innovate, what are you innovating around, and it starts to lay the story out in a very, very simple way.

I want to go back to a point that you made earlier, which is when you have so many solutions, you do get bombarded by the business to “Please market me!” and the value really is, especially on a smaller budget, to bring it together underneath this brand and really build that air cover so you can drive that air cover interest, and then you can bring that client into the business based on their needs.

One of the ways that we did that was by looking at a value chain by industry. And then looking at the value chain, it really allowed us to look at our business more holistically, and bring some storytelling to an insurance company or storytelling to a FinTech or storytelling to a retail organization that takes that same set of solutions, but positions it in a different way relative to the business challenges that they’re trying to address. That was a really important step that we’re taking to reposition the company.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, and all of this makes so much sense. Again, I talk about this in the book, Chapter One is called “Clear Away The Clutter.” Part of that is, the mentality is, just because you have all these products doesn’t mean you have to market all of them. The point of marketing is to get the conversation started and then there’s all sorts of things and ways during the course of a conversation, and we don’t have to talk about 800 products to get this conversation started. To move it down to ten was a heroic effort.

Ellyn Raftery: Oh, it was huge. It was huge. And it was actually interesting to see the consensus that we were able to drive across the organization.

Drew Neisser: So suddenly, everybody can wrap their mind around the business because we have this big promise that everybody can go, “Oh, I get it, I get it!” And then you have these 10 segments, if you will—or you called them categories—that you do business in. I would imagine that also may have led to some major structural changes in the organization where you’re almost creating new kinds of business units.

Ellyn Raftery: It didn’t for the reason… marketing’s a little bit ahead of the business from that perspective. I think marketing always needs to be pulling the organization to some degree.

We don’t want to get too far ahead of our skis, but we want to be far enough ahead where we’re leading the conversation in the marketplace. We’re organized by segments, which is how we do our public reporting, but the way we’re having conversations with clients is more around the way our clients buy.

And that’s different than how we’re organized internally. So that’s been a little bit of a challenge that we’re working through right now, but we’re seeing some really good alignment happening across our line of businesses in our sales organization. But the key there is going to be for us—and we haven’t done this yet, this is the next step in our journey—is the sales enablement or the internal readiness.

That piece is so, so critical in order for the brand story to be successful in the marketplace, because we really do have to help the organization be able to talk that story and be able to tell that story and the differentiators and the value propositions, but also be able to navigate back to the way that they sell, what they sell, etc., so back to their domain area. That’s an area that we’re focused on right now, the internal readiness.

[28:07] FIS’ New Brand Story

“Our tagline is ‘Advancing the way the world pays, banks, and invests.’” Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: I want to step back and make sure—we haven’t actually said what the big brand idea is. Can you articulate that for us?

Ellyn Raftery: Sure. Our strategic territory is the destination for innovators to innovate. We are a company that’s been around for over 50 years, and we have built a lot of unicorns or helped a lot of unicorns be successful in the marketplace.

We are seeing and we saw this wholeheartedly throughout COVID that many clients were coming to us because our technology is so vast around money movement, around managed payments, around managing investments, etc.

And so the technology that we have we’re seeing is starting to really penetrate across almost any industry. We’ve become a real destination place—for anybody looking for technology, cryptocurrencies, we’re a destination for new crypto businesses that have started to come to the marketplace.

Many of the new brands that you’re seeing emerging that are doing new business models around investing etc. are leveraging our technology to be able to bring these new upstart brands to market.

We’re a brand that supports big mega enterprise businesses as well as venture, new startup, new unicorns that are coming to the marketplace. This vast array of audiences that we’re able to support and serve through our portfolio has been really interesting to watch the shift in the marketplace and to see that we’ve really become a destination for that kind of technology. We’re building our brand around that destination.

Drew Neisser: I know you have a tagline that you’re using; can you say that for the listeners?

Ellyn Raftery: Our tagline is “Advancing the way the world pays, banks, and invests.” At the end of the day, we are the world’s largest financial technology organization focused solely on technology that moves, manages, and advances money…  And that money movement is across banking payments and the investor community, so that’s how we tie that storyline together.

Drew Neisser: And in the ads, as I recall—I saw two—the focus is on three letters.

Ellyn Raftery: Right. The three letters—FIS. Financial Innovation Solutions is not what FIS stands for, but as a part of our new brand storytelling that will become front and center as a part of how we put some meaning behind those three letters.

Drew Neisser: Financial Innovation Solutions. Interesting. That does tie back to the values that we talked about at the very beginning, particularly the innovation. It ties back to what you were talking about where—customer of the customer—if you can help your customers innovate for their customers, everybody wins. Obviously, category grounding…

I’m repeating these things because I just want to remind folks that when you create some of these marketing campaigns, you really do need to break it down and say, “Okay, nobody knows what we are, or not on a broad level, so let’s make it easy for them.”

What I like about the FIS, these three letters, is you’re saying, “You don’t know what they are, we’re going to tell you!” Then when you understand what they are and you hear the stories about it, that’s gonna stick. And I think it’s interesting that you’re redefining the acronym.

Ellyn Raftery: Yeah, I don’t know if our CEO knows we’re doing that yet.

Drew Neisser: Well, he’ll hear it on the show.

Ellyn Raftery: Exactly. There you go. Unveiled it on your show. You heard it first.

Drew Neisser: Amazing. All right, we’re gonna take another break and we’ll come right back and talk about measurement, and you’ve already talked about sales enablement. Stay with us.

Show Break: Renegade Marketing by Drew Neisser

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[33:37] How FIS Made its New Brand Story Real

“We were tasked to drive a certain $800 million in revenue synergies in 2 to 3 years. That forced the organization to really come together and create new value offers across the segments.” —@ellynraftery1 @FISglobal Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: We’ve covered values in-depth, and we’ve talked about how you got to the brand story and simplifying the architecture of the story. Marketing as I talk about it in the book is about doing things as much as it is saying things. We’ve got the language, but you’ve got to make it real.

And that goes all the way down to: How do you make it real for employees and how do you make it real for customers? And so you started to talk about sales enablement—let’s talk about what you’re doing or what’s on the horizon, so you can make this new positioning, if you will, and the new brand story real.

Ellyn Raftery: Sure. As I mentioned before, we’re building this in phases. The first phase was testing some of the messaging in the marketplace and we had some actual assets that we had out in the marketplace. You mentioned them earlier, the video clips, and we had a chance to test those and see how well they were being responded to by our target audience.

The next phase of it was really to build out the destination, so we’re in that phase right now; building out those assets, changing our storytelling on our website and through some of our other assets.

Going along with that then, is the sales enablement piece of the internal readiness, so we have a number of dimensions to our workstreams. We have a giant team of people that are collaborating across the company on these work streams to build out our internal communication strategy, to build our commercialization kit, if you will, for our line of business leaders, for our sales teams, and creating the assets, the storytelling, that goes into that.

So, we’re in that phase right now. And again, very collaboratively with our line of businesses in our sales organization so that we’re hitting the mark on what they need to be able to have the right conversations with clients.

Drew Neisser: As I hear that, it’s a lot. You got a lot going on. And I’m wondering, so far, have there been any big surprises in terms of when you did these videos or anything early on that’s giving you a sense that you’re on the right track?

Ellyn Raftery: Well, two things I would say there. One, I have to say we didn’t have a huge investment in terms of our media spend on the test pilot, but we saw some really, really terrific performance based on the investment. In terms of total impressions, we paid for 45 million, and we got over 80 million on our impressions, so 2x over on our impressions. That was actually really surprising to me.

Our video completion rate was 64%, which is about 2x what you would imagine to have in our peer space. So that was actually really exciting to me that the messaging, the way the media strategy that we had around that was working in terms of: We were breaking through to a new audience, they were looking at the material, and they were engaging with it.

And then we also tried something new for us, which was a pop-up survey. And the pop-up survey gave us some really good real-time information on brand awareness, interest in buying, interest in learning more, some of those kinds of things. And the engagement rate that we had on that was pretty high as well.

In a list of our peer group, FIS as a result of those ads that they had seen, had put us right at the top of the list in terms of aided awareness. The scoring levels on those, it was a great test for us. So that was, I guess, the first surprise.

The second surprise, for me, quite frankly, Drew, was the excitement that we are creating internally with our line of business and our sales organization. I really thought I would have a bigger fight on my hands to move up from demand generation to moving the investments up to brand and interest generation and creating that unity at the top, which means we’re not going to talk about 800 solutions, we’re going to talk about these 10 categories and we’re going to build simplified messaging, etc. I really thought I’d have a much harder fight internally on that. It’s really been very, very well received. That was a big surprise to me.

Drew Neisser: And that’s so important in this thing, because if they were all pissed off, you’d be in trouble.

Ellyn Raftery: Exactly! My nine years would be up, Drew!

Drew Neisser: Why do you think that’s the case?

Ellyn Raftery: I think there’s just such a readiness for it. And one of the things that we saw over the last two years, with bringing these two really big companies together, is we were selling in our silos.

We had our banking business, we had our payments business, and we had our capital markets investment business, but we had a commitment to the investor community that we were going to drive revenue synergies. We were tasked to drive a certain $800 million in revenue synergies in two to three years. And that forced the organization to really come together and create new value offers across the segments.

And so while you have 800 solutions, now you have an opportunity to re-combinate those solutions into new offers. And those new offers, we’re finding, you can pick up merchant solutions and sell them into the financial institution, or vice versa. It’s creating a whole new set of opportunities for us and discussions that we can have with clients.

The technology becomes very portable but in a very different way in terms of how you would position that with the client. It’s created a lot of energy and excitement around what we can do to continue to provide value to our clients.

[40:07] The Business Value of B2B Awareness

“We have to be a player and it's important for investors, it's important for our clients, to see that we're investing in them.” —@ellynraftery1 @FISglobal Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: I want to go back to the metrics that you pointed out. And I know that CMOs listening will say, “So yeah, look, we got 80 million impressions, that’s good. We saw a bump in awareness.”

But there’s got to be people and again, you’re a public company, there’s got to be people that say, “Well, I can’t eat awareness; that doesn’t equal demand.” What’s the business value of that? And how do you hold that conversation? Put it on hold for now?

Ellyn Raftery: You’re so spot on in terms of the kind of pushback that you typically do get internally in terms of “Why are you making an investment in the brand in that way? We’re a B2B company, our clients already know us.”

I think the argument and where I’m seeing the support is that we’re moving outside our comfort zone into new audiences. So that’s one piece of it. And the other piece of it really is the peer pressure, quite frankly, from other competitors that are out there that are driving that visibility. We have to be a player and it’s important for investors, it’s important for our clients, to see that we’re investing in them, where we’re heading strategically, the value that we’re bringing, the capability that we have, the criticality.

The critical infrastructure provider that we are—when we go down, the economy goes down. That’s pretty significant and it’s an important story to be able to tell, so I think it’s a combination of those two things that say, “Okay, we’re ready now.”

And the third thing that I would add to that, if I could, is that the consumer piece of it really becomes super important because the closer and closer we move to our solutions in the hands of consumers and driving some visibility around new offers that we’re creating, we’re quickly moving into more of a B2B2C business where it’s important that the consumers have some affinity for the brand. And so that’s really driving our next pivot here.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, there’s a lot going on. It’s funny, as you’re talking, I’m also thinking of a conversation I had years ago with Beth Comstock, who at the time was CMO at GE. GE was the largest held, most broadly held stock in the US, so advertising was as much about an investor reminder as it was about selling product. That was number one.

And two, it was just thinking about—awareness is never a problem until a CEO goes to his country club and he says he works at FIS and people go, “Wait, I have never heard of that.” Next thing you know you get a phone call! And it’s funny how also the sort of anecdotal stories of buying a billboard near the house of the board members, “Hey, I’m seeing you guys everywhere!” Right?

And suddenly, they have an appreciation because somebody else says, “Oh, I just saw it!” it’s just ironic, because if you look at other businesses in the world where awareness and recognition matters, it matters in B2B, we just pretend it doesn’t until there’s this turning point. And you had it.

Ellyn Raftery: I think that’s so true. And the other thing that it does really, Drew—all the way back to the beginning of our conversation—it builds the swagger, the internal swagger. The employees feel really good about the company when they see some of those bold steps and when they see the visibility that you’re creating. It really brings that swagger back to the organization, and that’s really super critical in terms of driving the culture and driving unity.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. And really, now in this pandemic world where we’re virtual and where it’s hard to retain employees, anything that you can do that builds swagger and builds confidence…

This is the moment, I really believe, for CMOs. This is your moment to really drive your organization because what you do is needed more than ever, right? Being able to build a brand that people want to work at and are proud of and see, I think probably matters more than any moment. Anyways…

Ellyn Raftery: You’re absolutely right. It goes back to one of your earlier comments which, is there’s such competition for good talent. And if your brand is not recognized, they don’t know you as an innovative company. They’re not seeing the awards, the accolades. They’re not understanding the kind of talent that they would be surrounded by. It’s harder to attract the best talent, right? It becomes really important from that perspective as well.

[45:11] Two Dos and a Don’t for a B2B Rebranding

“Never go to market without alignment.” —@ellynraftery1 @FISglobal Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Well, we have to wrap up because I think I told you, many of the folks who are listening are just finishing up their workout.

Let’s do a quick summary—looking back on this experience, and we’ll focus on the rebranding—give us two dos and don’t for other CMOs who are thinking about rebranding their organization.

Ellyn Raftery: Make certain you bring the right stakeholders to the table. Make certain you do appropriate testing, so you’re not putting the cart before the horse. And never go to market without alignment. That alignment is so incredibly important.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, those are great. Okay, so we’re gonna make sure we start with, let’s see, how do I employ this? We welcome we; the employees and your fellow C-Suiters involved.

Testing too which helps, particularly in a large organization. You really need that because you had lots of choices. And then finally, having alignment, which is pretty much how you survive as a CMO. Because if you don’t, you don’t!

All right. Well, thank you so much for a really interesting story of a rebrand. We didn’t even touch on the digital transformation that you’ve gone through, but what an incredible moment to be at this company.

Ellyn Raftery: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me today, Drew. I really appreciate it. I’ve really enjoyed it.

Drew Neisser: Thank you. And to the listeners, I welcome your feedback. As always, feel free to go to your favorite podcast channel and give us a five-star, six-star review. Why not! And as always, drop me a line If you have ideas for shows.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser—hey, that’s me! Audio production is Sam Beck. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius.

To find the transcripts of all episodes, future guests, or search for the savviest B2B marketing boutique in New York City, visit renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser and until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.

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