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Meet the new Chief Marketing Officer at LendingTree

We talk experience, planning, and leadership style as he embarks on this new journey

Entrepreneur interview by Josiah Motley
August 16, 2017
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/49fb

LendingTree, the online exchange the connects people with multiple lenders, has announced its new Chief Marketing Officer - Brad Wilson. With everything from mortgage loans and personal loans to business and student loans, there's a lot of moving pieces with the LendingTree platform, and Wilson will help ensure that those pieces are given the attention they deserve when it comes to connecting those in need of these types of loans with the proper marketing techniques and advertising channels.

I had the chance to speak with Wilson to talk strategy, plans, and the background that lead him to join the team. You can check out the interview below!

Care to introduce yourself and your role at LendingTree?

Brad Wilson, I am privileged to represent the fine team at LendingTree as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).

What companies have you worked for in the past? How much of that knowledge and experience will you bring with you to the CMO position?

I was fortunate to lead an exceptional team at Travelocity as North America GM under the Expedia, Inc. family. Prior to this role, I was Chief Marketing Officer of North America for Travelocity within the Sabre family. We successfully sold the business in January of 2015 – after a successful performance turnaround and technology platform migration.

How would you define your leadership style?

A personal mission for me is to build teams where we ‘Create, Compete, Coach and Connect’. I also believe in instilling operating norms, such as full transparency, customer empathy, data-driven decision making, continuous improvement, a ‘One Team’ philosophy and operating at speed and scale to deliver the best personalized experience for the customers.

In addition, and this may be a bit academic, I carry around a Koestenbaum leadership diamond visual as a reminder each day – to drive the four elements of the diamond for unlocking a team’s potential:  Understanding your realities, Having a Vision, Being of Service and High Character, and Acting with Courage.  I often use this as a reminder for how we are conducting meetings and conversations. Ironically, these elements are closely aligned with LendingTree’s core principles.

What are some of the goals and general duties that come with the CMO position?

I have several goals but I feel they all stem from the primary goal of leading and developing the best team in FinTech – where we are in servitude of customers, shareholders, our teammates and ourselves. On the brand side,  we need to build a world-class brand where we have equity for what we do and how we do it. 

We also need to deliver brand value for customers, where we  identify and develop the right messaging and positioning in the right media channels to reach new customers. And for existing customers, ensuring that we’re still delivering on our brand promise, which for LendingTree, is to empower consumers in their financial lives with the information and tools needed to make more informed financial decisions. 

As CMO, marketing efficiency and financial performance is key, while continually innovating to provide even greater value in the future.

How important is data to you when dealing with marketing strategies?

Critical. Data instrumentation allows for visibility and the democratization of ideas. It also allows us to test our ‘way in’ to bet what works best for our customer – both short-term and long-term. It also creates institution trust, knowledge transfer, clarity of Vision and overall alignment.

For the brand management aspect of your position, do you plan on starting with some new strategies or will you continue to build upon the foundation that was already put down?

Both.

This is a world-class Digital marketing machine. LendingTree has also built a powerful brand over the past two decades. Because we have evolved as a company, we now must communicate our value proposition in a more impactful way. I think you will see us do some things differently in the coming months.

In addition, we have a couple of powerful Brand spokespeople – our CEO and founder, Doug Lebda, and our brand mascot, Lenny. Each are unique in the messages that they deliver, and we will look to amplify their messages in a greater fashion.

What is it about LendingTree that excites you for the future?

First, I’d have to say that the winning culture here is a big draw. Doug and the Leadership team have created a culture of speed, combined with a good balance of analytical rigor and entrepreneurship. I believe culture trumps all else. On the business side, the marketplace for financial services lags other large-scale marketplaces like travel.

In addition, the marketplace lags other large scale marketplaces, such as travel, and the penetration rates will continue to improve.

We will be the leader in improving the adoption of lending online because we are dedicated and focused on removing the friction within the process of lending and other financial services in concert with our great partners.

Did I miss anything? Anything you'd like to add?

This is a special team and a special place. It may not be on everyone’s radar yet, but it is a top tech company and place to work in the U.S.

I have been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best. Chris Terrill (HomeAdvisor CEO), Aman Bhutani (Expedia President), Roshan Mendis (Sabre President of UK and EMEA) have all taught me a tremendous amount.  I’ve also been fortunate to learn from the great teams and culture we have built together, as a family, in the past – namely Naaz Nichols (Travelocity) and Bill Chase (DentalPlans CMO).