In this episode, we speak to Jonathan Beamer, the CMO of AmeriSave, one of the nation's leading and fastest-growing retail mortgage companies. Jonathan has significant experience in both agency and corporate roles and brings the analytical thinking of an engineer to his marketing roles.
In this episode, we speak to Jonathan Beamer, the CMO of AmeriSave, one of the nation's leading and fastest-growing retail mortgage companies. Jonathan has significant experience in both agency and corporate roles and brings the analytical thinking of an engineer to his marketing roles.
Jonathan talks about his recent experience launching an ambitious brand campaign featuring CeeLo Green, being a digital-first organization, and the business case for a major brand campaign.
Learn more about the new “Lower than Low” campaign from this recent blog post from Jonathan, with the :30 spot video embedded: https://www.amerisave.com/when-they-go-low-we-go-lower/
Kelsey: [00:00:00] Jonathan. Thank you so much for joining the next CMO podcast. We're super excited to have you on the show today would love to learn a little bit more about you and what you do for Ameri. Save.
Jonathan: All right. Thanks, Kelsey. Peter. Good to see you. Yeah, me save it's fascinating company. I have made a career of taking companies that aren't super well known. yet have an amazing product, an amazing value proposition and showcasing them to the world. So, Amer save has been in business for 20 years.
We're founded by Peter market who is a computer scientist by training was really looking at the early days of the internet of how to make mortgage more efficient and originate a lower cost. And it's my job to bring that to life and make sure consumers underst.
Peter: Awesome. And in doing that, you are actually the chief marketing officer of said company. I believe Jonathan and.
Jonathan: Yeah. And
Peter: Tell us a little bit about sort of, about what the role means in Ameri safe, cuz it can vary a little bit and I'd love to hear a little bit about the [00:01:00] story of how you got there.
Cuz you've got a great background, including some great time in my hometown in Boston. So we'd love to hear a little bit of the Jonathan Beamer story too.
Jonathan: sure. So, I'll start with the Ameri safe portion of that question. For the last year and a half I've been in Ameri safe and. mentioned that 20 year history, because for a long time, we didn't have much of a marketing function. In fact Ameri save is designed to fulfill the promise that somebody else makes.
And our marketing department was working with affiliate partners. We have a lot of really important and valuable partners. But they're out there making promises on our behalf saying, Hey, here's a great company to get a mortgage. And then we sweep in, I call that mid funnel introduction to, to fulfill on that promise.
And I that's worked really well for us. But I think to grow the next step, we're actually gonna have to matter earlier in the funnel. We're gonna have to mean something to consumers when they're first starting on their home buying journey or on their mortgage refinancing journey. Me personally, I've done this a few times, so, have led marketing.
I [00:02:00] started you mentioned my time in Boston. I was at an agency called Digitas in Boston. Really cut my teeth learning, marketing allocation and learning the discipline of marketing and being deep in analytics. I came to marketing from a weird path. I'm a, I'm an trained as an engineer.
I think Peter you're a pretty technical person too.
Peter: Yeah, I'm kind of a nerd. Yep.
Jonathan: Yeah. So, analytics measurement talking to CFOs about marketing allocation that stuff is where I started. And I rely on my team really to make sure that we can design creative, that resonates with people. And I know where my strengths are.
I know where my weaknesses are. I try and cast great teams and make sure that we have the biggest impact we can in the market.
Peter: Well, it's great. Now I love this background probably because it's sort of like mine in a way and not completely. I never did time on the agency side. And and I always admire that background that people have, especially if they can take that, take what they've learned in the agency world and apply it on the brand side can be [00:03:00] really powerful, obviously.
Cuz you see everyth. And you can sort of see all these different patterns across multiple brands and then apply it. So I can see that as a successful path, but you mentioned a couple of things, Jonathan, in you know, one is sort of the analytical side, but the other thing is really understanding the financial side of marketing.
And I'm a big advocate and people know me who know me know that I tend to get on my soapbox a little bit about this. Really understanding the way to communicate the economic value of your marketing activities, I think is incredibly important. And it will be increasingly important as marketing leaders and marketing evolves over the next few years because I think we gotta pass for the last several decades around.
Communicating clearly economic value by being able to wave our arms and say, oh, don't worry. Your pretty little heads. It's all gonna be fine. And half of advertising is wasted. We're just not gonna tell you which half and things like that. So are you in that camp [00:04:00] too? It sounds like I'm leading the witness, Jonathan, but are you a believer that the being able to connect your marketing efforts to economic outcomes is an important.
Jonathan: It's incredibly important. So yes I'm absolutely a believer, although I'll point out there's traps on both sides. You can I'll take a mayor. Say as an example, we've we, for those 20 years we buy a lead. We know how much we spent on that lead source. We know if our sales team closes it, we know how much revenue we get.
We have very clear ROI. And yet, as I mentioned just working through affiliates, taps out at a percent or two of market share, which is not big enough for our aspirations. So then you had to move. Up funnel means softer metrics by definition. And my, my experience. Really large companies shows that at scale, pretty much everything's measurable.
You can measure linear TV if you are big enough and doing enough of it. And then the question is how you bridge that gap when you're not quite at scale or at huge scale in some of those channels [00:05:00] that are harder to measure where's that balance between the leap of faith of, yes, I. Even though I can't see this in this days or this weeks, or even in this month's metrics, I know this is helping us.
And what are those intermediate metrics that you're gonna rely?
Peter: Well, that's a really important topic because I completely agree. In fact, one of the most common questions I get from marketers who are trying to sort of find that next gear of growth is how do they actually go in. How do they build a case? How do they justify going from a directly measurable more tactical, more, you know, simple math kind of approach to getting to that next level.
And you hit on one thing that I think is really critical, which is the idea of coming up with these intermediate metrics. So, so what is first, you have to start with a. That says that, Hey, if I'm gonna go do this really cool campaign with CLO green that I want to talk about in a minute, as an example, I'm doing that for a purpose.
I'm doing that because [00:06:00] you highlighted the, your analytical chops here a little bit. You said I've got one to 2% of the market that I can get with this direct analytical approach by by getting affiliated in. But if I wanna reach a broad. If I wanna reach a broader audience, then I need to get higher up into the consideration path and say, all right I need to have some level of awareness in the consumer so they can direct the decision.
And you have a thesis around that says that, Hey, if I can. Be visible. If I can if I can have some create some preference for the consumer, as they're making a decision, then I should be able to access X percent of the market and for in, in over time, get there. So one thing I'd really love to understand based on that is one is.
Basically in the right direction. We're talking about how you think about it. And then two, I think more importantly is how did you sell the senior leadership at Ameri? Save a around making this [00:07:00] leap and taking this, making this big investment to, to get to the next level.
Jonathan: those are. That's a great question. And again, a two part question, which you seem to be really good at Peter. The first one is I think marketing science is pretty clear. You mentioned awareness. Awareness is a great metric. And you could pick your flavor, aided awareness on an awareness there over a long period of time market share.
And awareness or top of mind awareness are pretty well correlated. And so if we want if we have 1% share today and we aspire to 10 we gotta get people naming Amari safe when they're asked to name a mortgage company. And And I think that's really connected to how I sold it.
I wouldn't say I sold it. I'd say you know, two years ago our CEO and president went out to say, okay, we need to build a marketing team. We need to build a marketing team because we see what the leaders in the space are doing and we're not doing it. And so, that's the foundation there underneath that is how are we gonna instrument it every month, every quarter.
And you know, is it gonna require a lot of money? Is it gonna require investment? How much can our traditional business bootstrap and [00:08:00] so we can slowly make progress. And I, what I'm really fortunate that We have a long term vision at Amer safe. We're not, none of us are going anywhere. Brand building takes a long time and we know we're we're we know we're a challenger brand and we're gonna chip away at it.
Peter: Yeah. And it's interesting cuz speaking of that, it seems like you've done a really. Good job at sort of sticking to your brand promise, right? So you've got a real focus on low rates as an example, and that's a key part of what you promise and we're in a market where you can Jack things up pretty quickly and drive profitability and you've chosen to make sure that you're saying true to the sort, to the low consumer cost thing.
And in fact, you're leaning into that with the current campaign that you have going on. How important do you think that is? You know, in, as you tell sort of the five to 10 year brand story, you know, you gotta decide when you are gonna zigzag with what's going on in the market. And [00:09:00] when you decide to sort of stick to your core principles around what the brand really means.
Jonathan: Yeah, I think Branding because it's a long game consistency's really important. And I it's interesting cuz I think for marketers love the next new thing. And I often say that when we have a messaging strategy, when we have a brand strategy, we should get pretty bored of it. Because we, our consumer doesn't live in the.
So we're gonna get the consumer every now and then we're gonna get a, you know, half minute of attention or less. And if we're not telling a consistent story, then we're under utilizing that very limited amount of attention that we have. So we, I, my general feeling based on looking at the consumer, studying the consumer is that about three things matter in this space is everybody comes.
Everybody avoids the category, cuz they think it's gonna be so. And so can you make it easier? Trust is really important. We're asking for some of the most private information, things that you aren't that good talking to your loved ones even about. And so, people aren't great [00:10:00] about talking about money and financials and income and what they've saved.
And we do that every day. So trust is hugely. I. and then the amazing thing for me as I looked at this space is there's not really a value leader. There's nobody who stuck out and who's really put a stake in the ground for the fact that we will do this lower cost than the competition, even though. everybody starts with, I need to get a low rate when I get a mortgage. And so that for me is the white space. That, of course we have to hit the other two. But the real advantage is if we can carve out value leadership. And so we've, that's where we've decided to really focus and. I the last piece I wanna say here is it wouldn't work. If it weren't true. If I weren't standing on 20 years of history where this company has. Really been looking at the inefficiencies of the loan origination process and beating up each one of them. In fact, we have automated processes where a ton of our loans never go to a human underwriter anymore because because our [00:11:00] machinery helps out the loan officer and they can directly underwrite that loan.
Those are the sorts of things that when I say we can be low cost, if anybody wants to scratch underneath the surface there and say, okay, how can you be a couple points lower than the competi? We have the real technology to prove it.
Kelsey: So, what are some things that you do as a brand, knowing that you have this, you know, brand promise position of these low interest rates? What, how do you guys lean into that? How do you guys promote that? As much as possible, knowing that consumers only spend a brief period of their life actually exploring what you guys.
Jonathan: Well, one of the ways we do it is in our messaging, bring it to life in a fun way where people can pay attention. So that's our latest ad campaign is a good example of that. Of pointing out that we are very comfortable presenting low rates to you. The second that we do a lot of is show testimonials of happy customers, cuz I think especially for a challenger brand to build that trust, we need to put front and [00:12:00] center examples of people who've gone through the process and said, wow, that was easier than I thought it would be.
I got the rate that I wanted. And all of that then ladders up to the. Brand promise of fulfilling the dreams of home ownership which is if as long as everything feels like it's coming from the same place, I think it all reinforces each other.
Peter: Well, it's interesting because it, you talked about trust a lot in the brand, which I think is really important. And. I assume that factored significantly into your talent decisions around this particular campaign, because I'd love to hear more about it because you've got sea green in this campaign.
He's such a lovable character, obviously and seems to elicit an amazing amount of trust which is great. So it seems to be really well aligned with a brand. So talk about how that campaign. Give me a sense for what was the germ of what you were trying to do. And how did you end up sort of making CLO the center of your of your campaign in this case?
Jonathan: Sure. Sealer has such a cool vibe. It is always fun when you get [00:13:00] to work with with any celebrity but he was he was really fun. He was fun on set. You, we had a few outtakes cuz he's got colorful language. As you know, from his hit songs It starts with a really solid brief. So a lot of the strategic foundation that we talked about, a lot of the aiming for value leadership our friends at Arnold who I've worked with for a long time take that brief, help us develop it and then bring great ideas.
And the this one was one where we really wanted to make an homage to. And then we, yeah, brainstorming. Hey, can we add a celebrity that also gives us another opportunity to say hello? A few more times is is fun and Seelo green popped up to the top of that. He was willing to do it, you know, I don't know.
Peter: Was JLo not available. Is that what
Jonathan: J JLo would be great JLo, Rob Lowe. There, there's tons of opportunity out
Peter: Oh Rob Lowe. Would've been funny, but I, you know, not as trustworthy, right. He's had some challenges in the past.
Jonathan: issues here and there. And you know, it's always fun to work with celebrities cuz it's a dance and you your idea has [00:14:00] to be interesting to them too. And so that we go through that courtship and out the other end comes a spot that I'm really proud.
Peter: Well, it's great. And we'll add some links in our show notes so people can can watch some of the creative cuz it's really amazing. It's a lot of fun. And and I think you've done a great job with it. And you hit on this idea that. There has to be this synergistic approach to it's gotta fit with you, but it's gotta fit with them too.
Or, you know, I, cuz I know some creative folks I've worked within the path that past and some notable people we've included in some creative. If it doesn't work, if they're not feeling it, it just doesn. Work for some reason, you know, they have a really hard time, like pulling it out of them, but when they get excited it, it really works which is great.
Have you had an experience where it didn't work? You don't have to name names, but we'd love it if you did, but have, if you had an experience where getting this kind of a spokesperson and it just didn't connect.
Jonathan: I've certainly had [00:15:00] experiences where yeah, that the, some member of the team somewhere just isn't fully bought in. I think it's particularly difficult to your point when you're talking about talent, when you're talking about somebody you're hiring for just a gig and that's hard it, I thought you were gonna go slightly different direction there, which is I decided when I was.
At an agency that I was gonna be a great client because I knew the clients that I bent over backwards for that I would work weekends, I would say, Hey, that deadline I'm bought in. Like, let's go run up that hill together. And those are the ones who, who bring you in more completely, who tell you what you're trying to do who make sure that you understand what your role in the team is and why it's important.
And I think that's where. And with the talent negotiation saw was really hard. It's like I'm gonna sell some mortgages for you for, you know, for a one day shoot for an agency, client partner. Most of my job is making sure that my partners are really bought into the work that we're doing. So that we have team that is casting is [00:16:00] all pointed in one direction and where everybody's bringing their whole selves.
Peter: Well, I'm glad you brought this up because I think you've got a great perspective. Having spent significant time on both sides of that relationship. So say a little bit more about what makes that relationship really work when you said I want to be a good client. As an example, you probably had some good anti examples.
So what's a bad, what's a bad thing to do as a client to kind of erode that magical relationship you can have with a right agency partner.
Jonathan: Yeah. I think that the requests that come over the bow with a, you know, with a firm deadline and no context, right? Like that's the worst type of work. And frankly, that's not even at marketing. Right. Like I think that's across the board. I think. You know, you could be the manager of a barista at your local coffee shop and either you're in motivating that person to enjoy their job and to [00:17:00] make their customers happy, or you're telling them that they just froth the milk wrong.
And you're just constantly telling them how to do their job instead of why doing their job is important. And so that's overwhelmingly and it's interesting. Cause I actually think that value chain goes all the way to the. I think a lot of our messaging I could beat people over the head with the reasons to believe.
But if I can connect emotionally, even a little bit in that 30 seconds of saying, Hey, you know, you kind of owe it to yourself to see if you could be consolidating your debt and saving money with a Ry finance. Yeah, the beating over the head infomercial is not gonna do nearly as well as if I got a little bit of emotion into that message.
Peter: I think connecting you're right on all those levels, connecting with the consumer for the message connecting with and I think in. Especially the creative side of the relationship. They have to get it too, right. They have to really kind of understand and get in the head of at least what you're trying to create as far as an emotional connection with that consumer.
And you're right. There are a lot of cases where I've seen this [00:18:00] a lot where people kind of throw something over the wall, or you talk about the brief and pulling out and having a great brief. And the reality is that most of them are not very strong and really deeply understanding. I think is important.
I want go back though, because I want to tie us back a little bit to some of the analytical side. Of this, because you've got a great example with what you're doing at Amira safe, Jonathan, around a great emotional connection to the brand and also your analytical approach. You've as you said, you've got great senior leadership.
Buy-in that you're gonna do this meaningful campaign to try and expand your market space that you're participating in. Talk to me about how you think about monitoring. And then optimizing this campaign when it's in flight, what does that look like for you and your team at Ameri safe?
Jonathan: Yeah. So I'm a huge fan of not just, we talked a little bit about the direct attribution and direct attribution is great for your harvesting campaigns for search [00:19:00] for yeah, even some of your paid social where, you know, you might have somebody teed up and ready to buy, certainly for things like retargeting and getting a sense of, okay, does this nudge the person down the next step of the funnel?
Once you start a click above that you start to get into probabilistic, measuring and model building. And it's interesting. What I find is there's not a whole lot of marketers who are comfortable with, Hey, here's the piece of creative that I think can emotionally resonate with somebody. And here's how the probabilistic model shows that I'm having influence over the next 60 days with this particular audience.
But that's what we do. And that's why that's why marketing is hard. That's why we have a team of people that have different specialties and we have to make sure they know how to talk to each other. Or we have some translators who do. And specifically I continue to layer in new models. So we have models that predict which audiences can benefit from our product.
We have models that show how much of those ad, how much of the reach we have within each one of [00:20:00] those audiences? We have. Multi-touch analysis that shows, Hey, if I hit you with a video and a display ad and a search ad well the search ad means you responded most likely. But in the old world, the search is the only one that would get credit, which is why Google has such a beautiful business model.
But that's and then we have medium X modeling to try and get, even at the higher order where it's pretty hard to tell if some of. Video actually got to the folks that we want. And yet we can see when we deploy dollars against ones that making it possible for them too. They respond higher in other channels.
So you gotta put all of that together. Hopefully what you get out the other end is an ROI campaign.
Peter: So who owns this campaign? Is it you, do you have a campaign leader? Tell me about, you know, who as you manage a, probably a decent size organization with a lot of priorities, how do you start to sort of break that down into someone come to you? You know, Once a week or once a month and say, Hey, Jonathan, everything's going great.
Or do you dive into the [00:21:00] weeds of the, these analytical results on a regular basis? So help us, you know, understand a little in a richer way, how a CMO of a good size company here is interacting with campaign data, like you just explained.
Jonathan: Yes I personally review results every week. It certainly doesn't make sense to do any more often than that. And there's a whole lot of stuff that you can't read at a weekly level. In fact I think on the CLO ads is a good example. It's been in market, I think three weeks, maybe two weeks, three weeks.
It's way too early. You can't, it doesn't really look or sound or feel like other things I'll take the word feel back. It feels like it comes from the same place because the brand architecture hasn't changed and we're saying the same thing. But it's new creative. And I, my mental model of how that works is that people need to get, need to see it a few times.
Seeing it a few times takes some time, especially we. Put a fair amount of money in the market, but not relative to other brands where you're gonna see other brands more times in the [00:22:00] period in the same period of time, it's gonna take us to get in front of you a couple times. So, and then when I talk about the probabilistic models, a lot of times we're running.
Whether it's a medium mix model or MTA we're not running it every week. So those are the sorts of things where you only get a dipstick measurement every month or two. And so, yeah, that's, we talked at the top of the, of the show that there is a little bit of a leap of faith here. The metrics get fuzzier by definition.
And so yes, we look at the data regularly. But I actually remind people all the time. Sometimes we're looking at it too regularly. We we gotta let things percolate a little bit in market.
Peter: So, so tell me about the conversation you might have with your CFO or your CEO when there's, you know, economic turbulence going on and you've got this strategic investment that you're making, that takes a period of time, how do you convince them to, to stick to. And tell them that there's cuz again, this is something that a lot of people have been asking [00:23:00] me because they're struggling with it right now.
Right. I've got my strategic investment going on and and I may not see the benefit for quarters or longer. And and how do you have that conversation to defend what you're doing and get people to to stick to it.
Jonathan: Yeah, the
Jonathan: I'd say I'm really fortunate at Amer safe first. I think we all went into this. a year and a half ago, knowing exactly what we were, what we. Aiming for the economy has gotten harder since, and particularly in mortgage mortgage preceded difficulties in other industries because we saw rates rise a lot at the start of this year.
And as soon as raise rates rise nobody's doing rate and term what we call rate and term refinancing anymore, which is a straight swapping of the rate. Maybe extending the term a year loan, but the result is a lower payment. And if rates were three and now they're. You don't do that anymore.
You still will [00:24:00] do debt consolidation. If you were paying 18% on a credit card, five is a heck of a lot better than 18. So those are the sorts of things that we still do a lot of. And there's still 7 million people buying homes. So, those are the bright spots. That's required some agility this year to make sure that we're really focused on where those bright spots are and that we.
Really good at explaining the value proposition of a cash out refinance debt consolidation or buying with Ameri safe. And so we're spending a lot of time there. As far as patients, we also have the benefit of our cost structure. So, all of the we have more room and more buffer than some of the frankly earlier stage entrance into the.
Who were who were not making money when the market was good. And so now they're really not making money and they've pulled back significantly. And I view that pullback as just pure opportunity. We ought to be able to pick up, share in this marketplace. We're gonna see more competitors shake out.
And if I keep my team super focused on the results and being disciplined with our spend, we're gonna pick up.[00:25:00]
Peter: Well, and it the key thing that perked up my ears in that discussion, Jonathan, was the idea that there are 7 million people buying homes, right? So, that, that says, and as you highlighted earlier, if you get, you know, one, one to 2% with sort of the of those things, then you can get that from.
One to 2% to two and half to 3%, that's a dramatic increase in opportunity that you have for that side of the business. And I assume now we just got done talking about how do you keep things the same? There are probably cases where you want to, you know, change or double down. Because there, there are, as you said, you've got a tructure.
Advantage in that you built Amira save in a way that you can actually provide because of your cost structure, you can provide low rates. That's the whole idea. And and that means that when other people are suffering you can dig in. So you doing anything specific in this market to try to do more and [00:26:00] capitalize on that?
Jonathan: Yeah, we are we're working a lot on explaining our value proposition at purchase is something that we've always done. We've got some loan originators who are really good. And we're making sure that the rest of our loan originators can learn from them. And you know, it's interesting cuz in this space if I'm doing a rate and term refi I get to own the timeline.
You give me the docs. I'll tell you when we're gonna close, we're gonna close as fast as we can, but it's based on when you when you answer my questions in a purchase the buyer and the seller have negotiated the. And all of a sudden we are fulfilling that promise. And so it is a mind shift for us.
It's an operation shift for us. And as I say, we've always done it but this is the market that is really going to make sure that we focus on it. From a consumer value standpoint. It's amazing. Cuz I, I mentioned the three things that are really important for your mortgage company. Ease of the process and value what's interesting in purchase is for sure, because there's so much going on for the consumer.
You know, they gotta get a house inspection, they gotta make sure this is the house they really [00:27:00] want. And it's emotionally rot that consumers have been willing to get a crappy rate. And in the past it's like, ah, it's fine. I'll get a crappy rate. And if I need to refinance it, I'll refinance it. A lot of our value proposition and a lot of our explanation to our customer.
If you can trust us and we'll close on time and we actually have a closing on time promise we'll pay people. If we are the cause of missing a timeline, we're so confident in it. Why would you set yourself up for having a worse rate? So, again, it's part of our value story and it's just an example of adapting to what's really happening in the marketplace.
Peter: Yep. That makes total sense. I think it's it's seems like it's a a great opportunity to lean into your real core strengths. Well, believe it or not we're actually already at the end of our time. And I do wanted to make sure I given very little oxygen to Kelsey in this particular podcast.
So apologies Kelsey, but I know she has one last question that she wants to.
Kelsey: Jonathan gotta ask you the infamous question, but [00:28:00] what advice would you give to those that are CMOs today or aspiring to be.
Jonathan: Yeah, I think it's interesting. We hit on some of it. I think the main thing and I see this in marketers marketing is a lot of fun. And there are really fun parts of the job. I. Staying interested and just staying really engaged and being the expert in something. There's about 10 fields under this crazy thing that we call marketing nowadays.
And it's earlier in your career, you have to be an expert. You have to be the go to on the team for one particular thing. And that gets you that gets you. A place to have more influence over over more parts of the marketing funnel. The other piece I'd say is part of being interested is just being a lifelong learner.
There, like you're not, you're never gonna stop learning. Something in marketing whether it's, you know, the analytics we touched on or what makes good creative or what how we get customers to tell us what they really feel. Those are all disciplines that are underneath this [00:29:00] umbrella.
Kelsey: Well, great. Thank you so much for your time today, Jonathan, make sure to follow the next CMO and Plannuh on Twitter and linked. And if you have any ideas for topics or guests, you can email us at the next CMO Plannuh dot com. Have a great day, everyone. Thank you, Jonathan.
Peter: Thanks, Jonathan.
Jonathan: Thank you guys.