Little Gray Cells: Starling’s Rachel Kerrone talks about customer centricity and changing banking for good

You would have been hiding under a rock for not meeting British challenger bank Starling and their hard-hitting communications. Little Gray Cells speaks with Starling’s Director of Brand and Marketing, Rachel Kerrone, who lifts the lid on how her marketing team’s adaptive strategy, as well as their passionate commitment to providing financial support to their customers , help them lead the way.

What inspired you to pursue a career that encompasses marketing?

Rachel > Marketing is such a diverse career – it’s driven by ideas, data and ideas and the work of marketers can have a huge impact on business growth and how their customers perceive them . What I particularly like about the marketing we do at Starling is that it’s

therefore customer-centric and goal-oriented. We look at what is most useful to our customers and build a campaign around that, not the other way around.

What are the biggest challenges your marketing team is currently facing?

Rachel> There has been a tremendous amount of change over the past three years, and as marketers we have had to adapt very quickly and sensitively to the needs of our customers. An example of this is the current cost of living crisis, where we see many banks offering cash incentives to persuade people to switch.

At Starling, we want to provide people with meaningful support throughout the crisis, such as tools that help improve their money management skills. Our challenge is to communicate this in the right way and to make sure that every customer knows that we are actively there to help them at this time.

Science versus art: with science-based marketing at one end of the spectrum and brilliant creative ideas at the other – which side do you lean on?

Rachel> At Starling, we have a brand team and an in-house studio that create “the big ideas” while our digital team excels in data-driven growth. Teams work closely together and benefit from each other’s halo effect, allowing our brand building to reach the right audience at the right time to create a steady pace of apps and long-term loyalty to the Mark.

The Metaverse: Are You “In”, “Out” or “Not Sure”? And please tell us why.

Rachel> I’m firmly ‘out’. People had the ability to bank in Second Life – a precursor to the Metaverse – many years ago. Did they take it back? No. Despite all the technical advances in AR and VR technologies since then, I still don’t think there’s a compelling use case for banking in this way. We don’t have physical branches – why would we create one virtually?

If the Metaverse really takes off, I will stay firmly on the sidelines until Meta cracks down on the scammers who advertise on its platform.

How to adapt a sales and marketing strategy to adopt the latest trends and stay ahead of the competition?

Rachel> It’s all about culture. Everyone at Starling is united by a common belief of “changing banking for good”. Our agile approach enables this: everyone is connected through Slack and collaborative work tools that allow us to see a trend and jump on it quickly. Sometimes that means rewriting the rulebook and replacing long-term product launches with ones that are more relevant to the present moment, but that’s what keeps us up to date and ensures we deliver the products and features that our customers ask us.

What role does your company’s purpose and environmental strategy play in your marketing strategy?

The Rachel>Starling brand values ​​are not a marketing push – they are pillars upon which the entire bank is built. Whether we’re campaigning for equal money for all, advancing on the path to Net Zero, or delivering a banking experience that puts customers first, it all plays into our mission to build a bank that does good. for people and the planet – not to attract customers to a fake bank.

How important is storytelling to maximizing your customer engagement with a campaign?

Rachel> There’s a common saying in the banking industry that more people get divorced than change bank accounts. While Starling’s banking experience challenges this status quo, there is still a lot of inertia in the industry. Storytelling is therefore vital to us when engaging potential customers – we want to show them more than our features and our trophy cabinet, we want to show them how Starling can set them free and we want them to tell their friends and to their family. It’s been a real success for us so far – we were the most transferred UK bank in 2021.

Creative agencies are railing against the time and resources spent on pitches to win accounts: is there a realistic and fair alternative to the pitching process?

Rachel> At Starling, we don’t go through lengthy pitching processes. It’s essential to be upfront from the start: state the type of agency you’re looking for, the type of people who will fit culturally, and your future expectations as your brand evolves and grows.

For Starling, it’s really important that our agencies understand where we’re going as a brand and are passionate about helping us get there. During pitch processes, we ask agencies to keep slide decks to a minimum and tell us why they’re right for us. Chemistry and ideas are far more important than hours of pitch meetings.

From a marketing perspective, what’s coming for your brand or business in 2022?

Rachel> 2022 was a great year for us as we were the domestic banking sponsor of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022. As the only bank in the UK to be founded by a woman, our sponsorship grew leaning on the glass ceilings we shattered. banking and sought to do the same for women in sport. All I can say is that while the tournament may be over, our mission to level the playing field has only just begun.

Helping customers improve their financial lives is also a priority, and we will continue to release products and features to help our customers navigate this. This includes paying great attention to our younger customers and helping parents and children with family finances.

This interview was brought to you by Tim Healey (Little Gray Cells) in collaboration with Worth Your While (