When Joe Ziemer first worked at the intersection of content marketing and financial services, he was a 12-year-old Indianapolis kid obsessed with Nike. He even owned three stock shares, a Christmas present he’d begged for earlier in elementary school. All he wanted out of life was to meet the company’s iconic co-founder, Phil Knight. So he did what any marketer-in-the-making would do. He crafted quality content highlighting his unique value differentiator and included a killer call to action that nailed his KPI: an invitation to the company’s Beaverton, Oregon, headquarters.
In a letter to Knight, Ziemer identified himself as “the youngest Nike shareholder” and mentioned that he’d be in town soon, accompanying his father on a business trip. He wondered: Could he get a tour of the place?
The enterprising tween received a letter back from Knight, who informed Ziemer he would be traveling but promised the dreamt-of invitation. And so, Ziemer soon found himself in Beaverton, escorted by Knight’s chief of staff. He landed a chance to sit in Knight’s chair, swing by Michael Jordan’s office and visit the employee store.
Decades later, Ziemer again put persistence and ingenuity to work trying to solve one of his current company’s top challenges.
Now a vice president of marketing at Betterment, the largest U.S. independent online financial adviser, Ziemer was again working at the intersection of content and fintech. But soon after joining the New York City-based company in 2012, he realized Betterment’s content outreach was falling flat with its target audience. His challenge? Convincing consumers to trust a robo-adviser with their money.
“Historically, people view your adviser as someone who kind of educates you and shares information and guidance through the traditional human experience,” Ziemer says.
How does an online financial tech company replace the intimacy of sitting down once a year over coffee to talk retirement strategies with a trusted, graying, golf-playing financial adviser?
“We have to think about how can we relate and communicate and educate our clients about something as personal as money online,” says Ziemer. “The one way we can reach all of our clients in a cost-effective manner is content.”