What this CMO startup is doing to support the disruption in the mortgage market

Natalie Dinsdale, CMO of startup home loan disruptor Athena, loves working on challenger brands.

In particular, she likes brands that base disruption on real consumer insights, rather than sticking to pre-established ideas, or as Dinsdale puts it, “putting lipstick on a piggy bank.”

Dinsdale, who has been with Athena since March 2018, has worked with numerous disruptors including UBank, Virgin and BankWest, and is delighted to lead Athena from its inception to its eventual launch this year.

“I’m very excited about challenger brands, it’s a bigger personal challenge to enter a very noisy market and create a strong point of difference by being bold and courageous and with a strong point of view,” said Dinsdale. CMO.

Athena aims to disrupt Australia’s $1.7 trillion mortgage market when it officially launches later this quarter, and is designed to be a different kind of home lender and a real alternative to the big banks. Founded by two former bankers, Nathan Walsh and Michael Starkey, Athena uses an Australian-native digital mortgage platform to deliver better rates through a unique funding structure, completely bypassing banks to connect borrowers to superfund-backed loans. .

“Athena feels like doing something different,” Dinsdale said. “I’ve been to a lot of places that say they want to do something different and shake things up. But at the end of the day they get nervous and scared and don’t live up to the norm.

“If you want to be a challenger brand, you have to go against the grain. If people are nervous, you’re on the right track. You can’t be safe as a brand challenger. That’s what I love about Athena. It would be difficult to do this without the founders having a serious appetite for change.

In particular, Dinsdale welcomed the opportunity to build the brand on real consumer insights, from the ground up.

“The opportunity to build a brand from scratch is so exciting, just like basing a brand on real customer insights, and nothing pre-ordained. Some problems with established brands can be lipstick on a piggy bank, meaning they’re marketing one thing, but the promise doesn’t filter through every customer touchpoint,” she continued.

“So at Athena, we have done a lot of customer research and gone through a thorough process to ensure that our brand platform is unique, different, has the truth about the customer and a strong point of view. Our voice is very direct and bold. Athena is our game-changing goddess of good things.

“A lot of brands go straight to sales and fulfillment without having that brand platform that should govern every customer touchpoint first.”

Build the brand inside and out

While brand values ​​may be considered purely for marketing by some, Dinsdale said the startup went through a huge process to interpret its brand, culture and values ​​and what that means for behaviors internally.

“We have our values ​​all over the office; we live and breathe them, even down to legal documents,” she said.

It also informed the creative pitch selection process, which saw Athena bring in The Royals. “We needed a partner as passionate as we are to do things differently. We are delighted to have appointed The Royals to help us win over Australians,” Dinsdale said.

This customer insight won’t stop at launch. With many products and pricing yet to be announced, metrics will continue for Athena well into the future, she said. Throughout 2019, a number of product launches are planned, with a large marketing presence expected throughout the year.

“We will do our hygiene passes to understand the importance of the brand, its awareness, etc., but what is very important to us is customer advocacy,” Dinsdale said. “We will publish all of our customer reviews, good and bad, following the NPS, to be 100% transparent. It really pisses me off when brands don’t even respond to customers on certain channels.

“Consumers now have the power, and they’ll let you know what they like and what they don’t like. When it comes to customer experience, we want to know what we can improve and how to fix it, all of that. Mistakes will happen, and we’ll be transparent about them.”

According to Dinsdale, there hasn’t been a major disruption in the home loan industry since Aussie Home Loans and John Symonds. Athena is not a bank and will focus solely on the home lending space.

“The industry is ripe for disruption and we are very pleased to be in the best position to seize this opportunity,” she said.

Of course, home lending involves regulation, and Dinsdale saw compliance as key, as did the continuing dissatisfaction with big banks recently highlighted by the Royal Commission.

“In light of the Royal Commission and the deception of the banks, we want to make sure that transparency is one of our core values, being completely candid with customers, ensuring they are not overstretched and focusing on building buffers in their home loans,” she added. “We see different ways of communicating from marketing and branding, but of course we will always be consistent.”

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Priscilla C. Carnegie