Reframing a Company’s Success: Advance Financial (Fintech)
How the Bradford Group helped change industry and company perceptions for a leading loan provider
Many people rely on small-dollar loans to make ends meet. Advance Financial is the leading provider of these loans in Tennessee and is rapidly expanding its footprint nationwide through its online platform. It faced two challenges:
- Recruiting enough qualified employees to keep up with its rapid growth, and
- A negative stereotype of its industry fed by a government campaign to shut it down.
Advance Financial turned to the Bradford Group to accomplish the following goals:
- Position Advance Financial as a great place to work
- Position it as a well-run, Tennessee-based business run by ‘real people’ who care about those in need
- Differentiate it from the stereotypical payday loan/title loan business
- Demonstrate that Advance Financial is superior in helping working people deal with short-term financial challenges that would otherwise turn into long-term disasters
- Show how Advance Financial improves the communities it serves
We began this effort by interviewing people within the company – at all levels, including the store level – to learn the company’s culture and unearth story ideas. Our goal was to generate a list of good story concepts that would accomplish the goals above. We would then pitch these ideas to local and trade media.
With the negative stigma associated with Advance Financial’s industry, it was important for us to cast the company in the best light possible. We did this by targeting reputable financial and business publications with media pitches and press releases that detailed Advance Financial’s unique views on and strategies for customer service, employee relations and community partnerships that have made it a successful company. Additionally, we shared general company news to keep the public apprised of its success.
We also attracted attention to Advance Financial’s many community partnerships and philanthropic efforts, including the work of its charitable arm, the Advance Financial Foundation. This further positioned Advance Financial as a company that is very passionate about giving back and helping those in need.
Another way we elevated Advance Financial’s standing as a trustworthy and adept financial service was by nominating the company and its leaders for national and local awards, from which the company won a variety of notable accolades for its growth, industry expertise and community involvement. Awards won included InsideARM 2018 Best Call Center to Work For, a gold Women World Award for Female Executive of the Year, a gold Pillar World Award for Best Employer Achievement of the Year, a gold CEO World Award for Female CEO of the Year, a silver Stevie Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, a 2018 Nashville NEXT Award, inclusion in the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for seven straight years and the Forbes’ 2018 list of Best Employers for New Graduates.
Two years into our partnership, Advance Financial began closing in on three growth milestones:
- number of stores.
- number of employees.
- online expansion.
First, we assisted in publicizing store openings through press releases that were targeted to publications in the local community where each new store was located. This was a way to gain awareness of Advance Financial’s services in the communities that might need them the most. The company has now opened over 100 store locations across Tennessee, helping thousands of Tennesseans improve their financial futures.
Second, our writing expertise lent itself to Advance Financial’s recruitment efforts through blogs on the website’s career page and through LinkedIn long-form articles sharing the latest job openings. Not only is the company well-known for its impeccable employee benefits and opportunities, but it also now has a workforce of 1,100 employees.
Finally, when the leaders of the company wanted to pivot toward the financial technology space and expand the company’s online presence, we helped them reinterpret and refine their messaging to successfully make this switch.
Now Advance Financial is no longer just “another one of those payday loan companies,” but a company whose impact on lives extends beyond financial health. The company’s reputation as an industry example, an outstanding workplace for its employees, a leader in customer service and an active community partner is widespread.