Data Mining On the Fly
In January 1998 Partners First was created by combining credit card portfolios from Harris Bank and BankBoston.
Harris Bank, the U.S. subsidiary of Bank of Montreal, wanted to outsource the business of marketing and managing its portfolio. A partnership was then formed by Bank of Montreal, BankBoston and First Annapolis Marketing, a credit-card marketing and management company, and the joint venture was named Partners First. When BankBoston and Fleet Bank announced merger plans in 1999, BankBoston then sold its interest in Partners First to Bank of Montreal.
Says Branda, "We basically have become one of the larger marketers in the country. We're about the 15th biggest mailer, with about $1.8 billion in credit cards outstanding with 1 million customers."
In the Data
The company didn't grow by prospecting recklessly, even in this era of easy-come, easy-go credit. To succeed in card marketing, a company must have scale, data-mining expertise and a strategic marketing focus.
"We are a very analytically driven credit-card company," he explains. One of Partners First's strategies is to use telemarketing as a follow-up to direct mail. As a second contact, telemarketing is effective because with modeling, the company can be more selective about whom it calls and what offers it makes. Follow-up telemarketing facilitates cross-selling of balance transfers and Partner Rewards, the Partners First loyalty program.
"We try to be selective about the telemarketing that we're doing," says Branda. "We don't want to call everyone, just like we don't mail to everyone."
He continues, "A lot of marketers still do what I call the old way of doing business: Call everyone and don't worry about rebuttals—just get the account. We're not about 'get the account.' We're about getting the profitable account."
Partners First works to get profitable accounts through multiple rounds of data mining and segmentation. The process begins deep in the prospect database and continues to the front lines of its outsourced call centers with FutureCall.