During this 209th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Kelly Gillease, chief marketing officer at NerdWallet.

Today, we talk a lot about Gillease’s experience, which spans about twenty years in startups, travel, EdTech, and search, as well as supporting some of the acquisitions of those startups. We also talk about NerdWallet’s venture into using big mass media advertising like TV and brand-building efforts and how she did that. We also highlight Gillease’s background and some of the unique things that she’s done in her life and her dual degree in both English and economics from UC Berkeley.

Gillease discusses how addressing the public’s lack of trust in personal finance companies is a big challenge for Fintech. Providing the best financial advice to establish that trust is how NerdWallet approached mass marketing. Gillease notes the drawbacks of performance marketing when she says, “performance marketing is really limited by demand for the category.” As Gillease shares what her team learned from the research that went into the “Money Questions” campaign, she reflects, “Everybody at different income levels, whether you’re well off or just barely making it, gets upset about money.” Understanding that emotional connection is essential to the NerdWallet brand, which emphasizes optimism. This interview highlights Gillease’s commitment to positive, impactful marketing that helps people address their everyday problems.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • The American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. 01:21
  • Kelly’s double degree in English and Economics. 04:37
  • The initial challenges of her job when she joined NerdWallet. 07:07
  • Kelly’s experience with mass media advertising. 10:11
  • How Kelly’s team approached mass marketing. 13:39
  • The impact brand efforts had on their business. 15:34
  • The “Turn to the Nerds” campaign. 19:39
  • The learning plan around the “Money Questions” campaign. 22:40
  • The research behind the “Money Questions” campaign. 26:32
  • NerdWallet’s response to coronavirus. 28:29
  • Is there an experience in her past that defines who she is today? 31:51
  • What is the advice Kelly would give to her younger self? 33:26
  • The most impactful purchase she has made in the last 6-12 months of $100 or less. 36:53
  • Are there any brands, companies, or causes that Kelly follows that she thinks other people should take notice of? 38:29
  • Kelly’s take on the top opportunities or threats facing marketers today. 41:15

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.