Creating Killer Content: An Interview with Michael Colon, TD Ameritrade Institutional

April 04 2018

Creating Killer Content: An Interview with Michael Colon, TD Ameritrade Institutional

It’s that time of year: award season. We’re not talking Oscars; we’re talking about the best in B2B marketing. And lucky for us, one of our clients, TD Ameritrade Institutional, is getting recognition left and right. One of the award-winning campaigns, a series of videos highlighting real customers, recently won a Killer Content Award for best video content

We used video to highlight the stories of advisors who had left the wirehouse model of financial services (Breakaway Brokers) and those who were already growing their businesses as independent Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs). Beautifully shot by Austin-based The Delivery Men, these videos were then delivered to advisors who were looking for support to leave their current wirehouse or grow their firms. 

We sat down with Michael Colon, TD Ameritrade Institutional’s Senior Manager of Acquisition Marketing, to hear more about the strategy around this winning campaign.

How long have you been with TD Ameritrade Institutional, and what is your role within the organization?

I’ve been with TD Ameritrade now for six years. In that time, I’ve been primarily responsible for the acquisition marketing efforts and working really closely with our sales team to generate leads.

How has that process looked in the past?

Historically, we used quarterly campaigns to generate leads, but over the past three years, we’ve taken a much deeper dive into our campaign and messaging approach to not just focus on the quantity of leads—which has always been high—but also the quality of leads.

When we took a look at what we were actually sending to our sales team, they weren’t complaining. High volume can be good, but the conversion rates just weren’t where we knew they could be.

How has your approach evolved?

Our quarterly campaign approach and messaging were separated into two basic segments: Breakaway Brokers and existing RIAs. That was it. We were basically blanketing the marketplace with generic messaging based on timing we deemed appropriate for our entire database of prospects. Again, it was resulting in high engagement rates and high volume, but too small of a percentage of these leads were ready for a conversation with sales, resulting in low conversion rates.

And so, one of the very first orders of business when we began working with Bulldog was deep-dive research. We’d already done some internal analysis to highlight opportunities for improvement. Bulldog took that to the next level with primary research and one-on-one interviews. We talked to existing clients, prospects, deals we won and deals we lost to start identifying what really mattered to our audience, the messages they cared about, what drove them to TD Ameritrade Institutional or what drove them away.

Ultimately, we came up with an approach that puts our prospects at the center of everything we do. This included developing a set of personas that helps make our marketing efforts, including emails and videos, more relevant and personal to our audience, all in an effort to increase the quality of leads we send to our sales team. 

The content is also from the perspectives of advisors who have been in prospects’ shoes. What kind of data drove that decision?

Some of the one-on-one interviews drove us in that direction, but it was also something we already knew. At our annual conference each year, one of the things advisors consistently told us they find valuable is networking with other advisors—learning from their experiences and gaining new ideas from their peers. So, what better way to reinforce that feedback than to actually bring that feeling into the marketplace through the video that we do.

How does all of this translate into the campaign that was submitted to the Killer Content Awards?

I call it a program because it’s really bigger than a once-in-the-moment campaign. But we went into the program knowing what our objective was—drive quality sales leads. This drove our vision to deliver relevant, timely, personal and actionable content to our prospects.

We knew that advisors liked hearing from other advisors, so the next level was figuring out what messaging would resonate with them. What we came up with was a set of real advisor stories sharing their personal experiences of working with us as existing RIAs or to transition “from Wall Street to Main Street.” Each story is broken into chapters to take into account the little time our audience has and how they like to consume content. Content for each chapter was dictated by the research and feedback from our prospects. We developed a program that is literally built for advisors, by advisors and delivers that content in a rich, beautiful and dynamic way.

Why did you decide to submit?

Because it celebrates the work of so many team members who have contributed to the program. Everyone, from our digital marketing and social media teams to our analytics, technology teams and Bulldog, has really done something that I think is truly extraordinary. And I think it’s important that the team be recognized for their work and to celebrate the small and big wins that we have along the way. That’s what makes work fun!

Special thanks to Michael for chatting with us about the program! Need some help creating award-winning work that engages your prospects? Drop us a line!

TD Ameritrade and Bulldog Solutions are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s policies or services. 
TD Ameritrade Institutional, a division of TD Ameritrade, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. TD Ameritrade is a trademark jointly owned by TD Ameritrade IP Company, Inc. and The Toronto-Dominion Bank. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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