CMO of the Week: AmeriSave’s Jonathan Beamer

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Jonathan Beamer joined AmeriSave as chief marketing officer in April 2021, as the 20 year old company was looking to build a consumer facing brand. 

Jonathan Beamer joined AmeriSave as chief marketing officer in April 2021, as the 20 year old company was looking to build a consumer facing brand. 

The company had been in business for two decades offering the best rates on mortgage but had not created a brand marketing platform. “For most of our history, we have been fulfilling a promise that somebody else makes,” says Beamer. “We have been operating through affiliates that start the conversion and the promise often is to find a mortgage.” 

The real estate market soared since the pandemic began, driving the need for mortgages. Looking to tap into this growth in the marketplace, AmeriSave has been on a mission to define itself as a leader in the space.

“Historically, AmeriSave has been focused on operational excellence and delivering the best rates,” explains Beamer. “About two years ago, we looked at the market and said if we want to grow bigger, we should reach people earlier in the journey before they have reached out to affiliates to define and create that brand promise. We expect to help people achieve the dream of home ownership.”

In July, the company launched a new campaign focused on this brand positioning as the value leader in the space by promoting its “great low rates.” The Lower than Low spot stars rapper CeeLo Green saying, “AmeriSave’s mortgage rates are very low,” to his neighbor while picking up a paper declaring the same headline, in a humorous spot created with Arnold Worldwide.

Formerly, the chief marketing officer of SolarCity, a solar power firm acquired by Tesla, as well as global chief marketing officer at and head of marketing at healthcare startup Forward. He has also held senior positions at Digitas and Progressive Insurance.

“I came to marketing through a very strange route. I am an engineer by training. I take a very analytic approach,” reveals Beamer. “It is really important that we can measure the work that we do. I have been at some large companies where it is really helpful to see at scale what is measurable and to figure out what works well. Measurability and attribution are often hard to scale. In many cases, things look like a leap of faith when you are operating on a smaller scale. It is very helpful that I have been able to work for some of the biggest companies in the world to see that at scale. I am definitely using that every day in my current role.” 

Brand Innovators caught up with Beamer from his office in Oakland, CA to talk brand building, innovation and the Lower Than Low campaign. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

As you go to market and build a consumer-facing brand, how are you hoping to differentiate your brand in the marketplace?

We have the best rates. We are beating the competition on rates. In our new ad I think we say the word ‘low’ 37 times. Strategically what we are seeing is that there is white space, amazingly, that we would like to own. This industry is about getting good value, but nobody has positioned themselves as the leader in that space yet. I have built several different marketing teams in my career across different consumer-facing industries. The one through line in my career is that I am a consumer marketer. There are processes of figuring out how to engage users.I am not a mortgage expert. I am a consumer expert. I have been studying consumers for the last two years.

What is your approach to leadership and managing your teams?

I set direction and point towards the goals – which are big and lofty – and then I unleash the team to get at it. I overwhelmingly get out of the way so the team can get their work done. As a leader my goal is to really make sure that our employees can bring their whole selves to work and follow their passions.

Can you talk about the current Lower than low campaign?

In the Lower than low campaign, there is a cameo appearance by CeeLo that is all about the fact that we have low rates and great leadership in the space. We have a couple of other spots in the market too, where we position ourselves as not only a low cost leader but we also have ease. You don't have to wrestle the category, we'll do it for you. We also have unleashing your bigger dreams, you can dream bigger by saving more.

What role does digital play for the brand and how are you reaching consumers through digital channels?

We are a digital-first company. Our CEO, Patrick Markert, is a computer scientist by training. When he first started the company, he set out to give loan officers better tools to make it easier to give mortgages. Can we make the process as simple as possible so that our consumers are more likely to be saying yes, that is good to go

That is a pain point. A lot of consumers continue to think it is going to be really hard to get a mortgage, that they are going to have to make a lot of phone calls and track down forms. It used to be very very difficult to get a mortgage without getting on the phone. We know that consumers today don't want to get on the phone, especially younger consumers. So we offer things like chat, so you can get most of your conversations done without having to pick up the phone. We were born on digital. We recognize that consumers want to do things differently so we offer the tools to do so.

How does your marketing show up in digital?

We are across all digital media. We are in paid and organic social. We are running lots of banner ads. We are most excited lately about video. I firmly believe that if you are building a brand and telling a complete story of who you are, video is a big part of that. We are increasingly finding ways of creating videos and getting them in front of consumers. We are Increasingly using connected TV, as well. We have been always on Meta, Instagram and Facebook channels. We are experimenting with TikTok. We are constantly expanding our media footprint. We have an experimental bucket where things are not scaling yet, but there is a lot of smoke. We are looking at it creatively and experimenting. 

I do think metaverse and NFTs are going to change marketing. It is very early. We could spend a lot of effort and not have returns. But I do think that further out we will see blockchain help with the mortgage process. Deeds on homes are very ripe for being disrupted by blockchain technology, similar to car deeds. 

How is the recession impacting your brand?

The biggest challenge of 2022 is that interest rates are rising. They have been stable lately and have leveled off but are still higher than they have been in recent years. 

Most home loans were refinanced and a lot of refinancing does not make sense now. It is very unlikely that today’s rate is lower than yesterday’s rate. That being said, there is some movement in the market. People have more equity in their homes than ever before. Cash out refinances are sometimes making sense. Seven million people will buy a new home this year. When I speak of the dream of homeownership, there are all kinds of people who are doing that with their first home or moving neighborhoods or downsizing. It is one of those things, you don't get to choose the rate in the market if you are moving but you do get to choose a partner that gets you the best rate.

The main point is that we are really excited to continue to tell the AmeriSave story. It is amazing to me to be at a company where we have been working on operational efficiency for 20 years yet we haven't taken much credit for that in the marketplace. My overall goal and my team’s goal is to get that out into the marketplace. 

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