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Advice to Today’s Financial Marketers: Advertise Responsibly

Quattro's Managing Director, Scott Cohen, Offers His Recipe for Success


Earlier this year, Scott Cohen opened up the Gramercy Financial Marketers’ Forum in Philadelphia where he presented his ideas alongside client, Ditech Financial LLC. Scott stands at the helm of Quattro, an impressive agency that has experienced considerable success in the financial services space. 


In 2014, Scott earned the Philly DMA’s “Marketer of the Year” award. Just a year later in 2015, The Gramercy Institute distinguished Quattro with its prestigious “20 Most Valuable Partners in Financial Marketing” award. Currently, Quattro handles marketing, advertising and digital programs for national brands such as ditech, US Bank, Tenet Health, Verizon, Comcast and Mutual of Omaha, among many others.


Bill Wreaks, CEO & Chief Analyst of Gramercy Institute, recently sat down with Cohen to discuss the ingredients of success in financial marketing today. Below, Scott details specifically what many financial marketers need from their marketing, and how Quattro finds success time and again by holding the principle “advertise responsibly” at its core.


WREAKS Scott, on the bottom of every email you send is the phrase “advertise responsibly.” Can you explain to me why? What does responsibility really mean in financial marketing today and why do you feel that this concept of responsibility is so critical that you would sign every email with these two words?


COHEN When we first coined the phrase “advertise responsibly,” it was intended to reflect the basic tenets of return on investment. Simply stated, ensuring every dollar spent on advertising directly impacted sales and generated incremental revenue for our clients.


Times have changed, and “advertise responsibly” has evolved to reflect this change. Consumers now are confronted by a mind-boggling 5,000 or more marketing messages each day. To break through this cacophony, marketers must reach consumers both how and when they want to be reached. This requires an in-depth understanding of the audience – not just who they are, but what they want. Only then can we truly “advertise responsibly.”



WREAKS  Accountability in marketing has made great strides in recent years, hasn’t it? Is it easier for financial marketers to “advertise responsibly” today? Or is it more complex for agencies to deliver this value (and prove it)?


COHEN Today, there are more media opportunities available than ever. With the exponential growth of executional channels and devices on which to experience them, measuring return on investment has become increasingly complex.


Finding the right multi-channel mix is critical. Today’s marketers must understand what works, what doesn’t, and what’s next. Fortunately, this task is made a little easier with recent advances in marketing analytics technology, such as cross-channel attribution. The latest tools combined with an understanding of what drives response helps us to advertise accountably/responsibly.


WREAKS Marketing is also a business of big ideas. How do you weigh the importance of delivering big ideas against the concept of advertising responsibly? Can gut instinct live in the same house as calculated outcomes? How?


COHEN Gut instinct is important, of course. But today, more than ever, it is influenced by real-time consumer research. At Quattro, we actively gather consumer insights through social listening prior to concept development. And we use our findings as a “gut check” when evaluating proposed concepts.


This type of in-depth research gives us a clearer picture of how consumers think, feel and act. This, in turn, gives us an edge in coming up with big ideas.


WREAKS I would like to take the word “responsibility” and apply it to your feelings about partnership. In what ways should the agency be responsible to the client? Do most financial marketers demand responsibility in their agency relationships?


COHEN Like any relationship, an agency/client partnership is based on commitment and trust. An agency must fully commit to fulfilling the client’s goals, while the client must trust the agency to do so.


It’s one thing for an agency to talk the talk. Walking the walk, on the other hand, requires full investment in the client relationship. For example, Quattro has actually placed agency personnel on-site at our clients’ offices to facilitate workflow and fully integrate the teams. It’s a significant investment on our end, but one that has paid tremendous returns over the years.


Clients are under constant pressure to reduce procurements costs. When it comes to evaluating an agency’s worth, it really comes down to return on investment. We went through an exercise recently with one of our client’s procurement teams in which we were asked to “quantify” our value. One of the most important conclusions was that our agency’s worth extends beyond any one program. It includes the “value add” we provide our clients to help them meet and exceed their goals. As a result of this exercise, our relationship with the client is now stronger than ever.



WREAKS Has the role of the agency evolved in recent years with respect to its expected value/service to a client?


COHEN For years, many clients worked with a stable of specialty agencies. These included digital agencies, social media agencies, brand agencies, direct response agencies, and others. Client solutions were typically limited to an individual agency’s specialty, with little regard for cross-channel optimization.


Today, clients expect (and deserve) more from their agency partners. Marketing solutions must be channel agnostic – focused solely on the best way to reach and retain a customer. This calls for a consolidated agency model: in-house experts in multiple channels working together seamlessly toward common client goals. 


WREAKS What is your recipe for success for a fruitful client-agency relationship? If you were a financial marketer, what would be on your “must-have” list when engaging an agency? What would turn you off?


COHEN For starters, an agency’s ability to stop and listen – especially at the outset of the relationship. No one knows a client’s business better than the client. To help a financial marketer move forward, an agency must first become a student of the company, its category, and its customers. If an agency comes in and talks at me rather than listens, that monologue might raise a red flag.


Of course, an agency’s ability to approach a marketing challenge from multiple directions comes into play here. As I just mentioned, this requires an integrated agency approach leveraging multiple channels. (If all an agency has to offer is a hammer, most client problems are likely to look like nails.)


Channel and executional expertise goes without saying. But these need to be combined with the right agency attitude. Simply stated, we are here to help our clients move forward – period. This “can do” (and, more importantly, “will do”) attitude has been one of the driving forces behind Quattro’s growth over the years.



WREAKS What does the future hold for agencies in financial marketing? Do you see agencies becoming more or less vital to the success of a financial brand? Why?


COHEN In response to the first part of the question, opportunity.


For example, the income of millennials is expected to account for nearly half of all personal income in America by the year 2025. In addition, this generation is in line to inherit $59 trillion. Of course, with opportunity comes challenge. The media consumption patterns of this group are quite different than those of their parents. To effectively compete, agencies today must be nimble enough to keep pace with this change.


If I were a financial marketer, I’d ask myself: “What is my agency doing to help me tap into this incredible opportunity?” Because the right answer could very well drive the next generation of growth.

Scott Cohen 

Managing Director/Partner











Bill Wreaks

CEO & Chief Analyst

Gramercy Institute









For more information on this interview: 


Scott Cohen, Managing Director/Partner, Quattro



"Wreaks Speaks” interviews are designed by The Gramercy Institute to feature the ideas and advice of leading figures in financial services marketing.  For more information regarding this  program, please contact:


Bill Wreaks , CEO & Chief Analyst

The Gramercy Institute

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