Influencer insights: 5 questions for Ann Glover

As Chief Marketing Officer at Voya Financial, Ann Glover presided over a massive rebranding effort when the company split from its parent, ING, last year. According to reports, the company allocated $150 million in marketing to support the rebrand – not a meek undertaking in a rapidly shifting financial services landscape. Unwilling to rest behind its new signage, last fall Voya also launched its Born To Save campaign, which caught the attention of millions of consumers, most of whom, it’s safe to say, probably weren’t thinking too much about retirement or, at least, the financial planning needed to support it.

Glover and I participated in a panel discussion at National Underwriter’s Executive Conference last December. I followed up with her recently to get some insight on Voya’s strategic initiatives and the marketing platform she’s building to support them.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered while rebranding from ING?

This project was extremely exciting – but complex. More than 16,000 pieces of marketing materials, communications, and forms had to be refreshed, 7,000 employee email addresses were changed, and over 500 IT applications, webpages, and other digital assets were analyzed and updated. 200 product filings had to be reviewed with individual states, and more than 70 legal entity filings with state insurance departments, SEC, and FINRA. It was quite challenging to sequence the rebranding of the company’s assets to align with our legal entity rebranding.

During April and May of 2014 our publicly-traded parent company rebranded from ING U.S., Inc. to Voya Financial, Inc., as did our Foundation and Investment Management business. The Employee Benefits business also began its transition to Voya during that time. On September 1, 2014, we reached our final milestone with the rebranding of our remaining Retirement and Insurance businesses, as well as all other legal entities that incorporated our former brand name.

We also launched a new consumer marketing campaign which included television, digital, mobile, search, social media, and trade advertising. In our television commercials, we introduced Voya Financial as a “new kind of company” that is “changing the way you think of retirement.” All advertising drove customers to the new Voya.com, which was designed to deliver an innovative consumer experience.

The process was very carefully planned to ensure a smooth transition for our customers, distributors, employees, and stakeholders. And I’m proud to say that we remained true to one of our most important operating principles, which was that we wouldn’t disrupt our customers and distributors, or lose a single day of business as a result of the transition.

You’ve told me previously that you want to position Voya as a “retirement company” rather than an insurance company. Why is that a critical strategy for Voya?

Voya Financial comprises three main businesses – Retirement Solutions, Investment Management, and Insurance Solutions. Each of these businesses offers solutions and services that contribute to the financial security of our customers.

In our advertising we say that we’re “changing the way you think about retirement.” What we mean is that saving for retirement is absolutely essential, but just one piece of the puzzle. Retirement readiness isn’t just about how much money you have in your qualified plan. It’s about maintaining an investment portfolio that supports your long-term financial goals. It’s about having enough life insurance to protect your family from unforeseen circumstances and taking advantage of workplace benefits that could help you pay for certain medical costs. We want Americans to think holistically about retirement, and we offer the solutions they need to work towards a secure financial future.

What impact has the aging of the advisor population had on your marketing strategies?

We work with financial professionals across all our businesses, and each industry has its nuances. What we’re focused on is listening to, and working closely with our advisors and agents to provide products, training, and support that help them engage with clients and offer products to meet their unique financial needs.

One example is the social media training we’ve provided to a select group of the advisors affiliated with our registered broker-dealer, Voya Financial Advisors. Because we work in a highly regulated industry, we partner with a company that enables us to track all of our social media activity. We work with that same company to train our advisors in the use of social media and offer them access to Voya’s social channels once they understand the process. This gives them another avenue to communicate with clients using pre-approved and original content.

What are the roles of content marketing and social media marketing in your overall strategy?

I’m a big proponent of an integrated marketing strategy. Voya wants people to understand that it’s never too early – or too late – to plan for retirement, so we’re trying to reach consumers of all ages. Television commercials, print ads, and social media activity each resonate more effectively with different age groups, so we make sure we have a robust presence on a variety of channels.

But social media requires an entirely different approach from traditional media – if you’re too self-promotional, you run the risk of losing people. So we’re always trying to think of ways to provide information that’s useful to our followers.

A great example is our Facebook Live Q&A series, which has grown exponentially in engagement over the past year. Each quarter, Voya hosts an online, one-hour open forum where our 200,000 Facebook followers can have their retirement and personal finance questions answered by a professional financial advisor. Each Q&A is devoted to a specific topic or theme. These forums allow us to interact real-time in a personalized manner with our social media audience, and they provide our followers with information to help guide their retirement strategy – it’s the ultimate win-win.

We’re also active on LinkedIn and YouTube, and we have 54,000 followers on Twitter. We often leverage byline articles, interviews, and thought leadership pieces on our website and social channels to keep our content fresh and offer consumers financial services tips and guidance from leaders in the industry.

By all accounts, it sounds like the Voya Born to Save campaign was a success. Do you plan to repeat it, or do you have other campaigns in the works?

I would say…stay tuned! We’re thrilled with the response we’ve received from Voya Born to Save. I’ll give a quick recap in case any of your readers aren’t familiar with the program.

We launched this national campaign in celebration of National Save for Retirement Week. The morning of October 20, 2014, we announced that every baby born that day in the U.S. would be eligible to receive a $500 mutual fund investment as a head start on their retirement savings. The promotion kicked off with ads and editorial coverage in a number of major news outlets, as well as a boosted social media campaign – and that momentum continued throughout the week, culminating with a visit to the New York Stock Exchange. The combination of print advertising, and traditional and social media allowed us to help educate millions of Americans about the importance of early saving.

We want to be recognized as America’s Retirement CompanyTM, so we’re always looking for innovative ways to reach our customers with messages about retirement readiness. So, stay tuned – we anticipate more exciting programs like this at Voya!