Marketing 50

ING Direct

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ING Direct follows a simple strategy: offer customers low-cost, high-yield, no-hassle financial products by phone, mail and Internet. By eschewing branches and their associated costs, ING is able to offer a core product, the Orange Savings Account, with a four-times-industry-average annual yield and no fees or minimums.

The U.S. operations of ING Direct, a subsidiary of Dutch bank ING, have grown to more than $26 billion in assets, $19 billion in deposits and nearly 2 million customers since the U.S. operation launched in 2000.

"We've taken a completely different approach to marketing savings accounts," says David Lewis, 40, ING Direct's chief marketing officer and IT officer, who's worked at financial institutions since starting his career as an assistant bank manager. "We believe in customer service, but we don't believe the branch is necessarily the best way to offer it."

Almost 70% of transactions and customer service contacts occur over the Internet. U.S. customers are centered mainly in the Washington-to-Boston and Los Angeles-to-San Francisco corridors.

"They share more in common psychographically than demographically," says Mr. Lewis, who uses the Internet, direct mail, print, TV, outdoor and branded Internet cafes to reach "smart shoppers who like a good deal."

ING Direct handles advertising in-house, with various creative agencies assigned to specific campaigns. The name Orange is a nod to ING's corporate color and the Dutch national color.

Because the core savings account is profitable-most banks start customers off on loss leaders such as no-fee checking-ING Direct doesn't need to cross-sell its other Orange products, which include mortgages and CDs. "We make money on the first product," says Mr. Lewis, "so we don't need to bug you."

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