1. Detail your approach to marketing and how it has positively influenced your organisation / business or the outcome of a campaign for a financial services client.
From day one, Nikki was determined that Cherry Lending & Finance would be everything that the big banks were not – fresh, non-intimidating, and approachable. To appropriately convey this message, it all began with the business branding.
As such, opting for a cherry – fun, memorable, and the ‘cherry on top’ – made sense to Nikki as a branding format. While the marketing palette for Cherry Lending & Finance makes the business appear relatively light hearted and easy to relate to, that’s exactly how Nikki conducts the rest of her in-house marketing.
However, that doesn’t mean that Nikki doesn’t take marketing seriously – in fact, it’s been one of the biggest priorities for her in recent years, especially given the fact that the mortgage broking industry is more competitive than ever.
Fully conscious of the fact that she didn’t have the budget or resources that her multi million dollar competitors had at their disposal, Nikki opted for a different route: to publish organic, educational content instead of chasing down leads via paid advertising.
By adding value to the experience of her clients, Nikki finds that sharing her knowledge is one of the most straightforward and transparent ways to communicate and engage with her existing customers, and to provide resources for potential new ones with ‘no strings attached’.
While this has involved heavily investing in organic marketing methods such as her online blog, these are in turn repurposed and used on the brand’s social media platforms as well. Not only has this approach helped her to boost her digital traffic, but it’s also given Nikki exposure to all kinds of new networks, with results including guest speaking roles on a number of podcasts and webinars. Ultimately, Nikki’s marketing efforts have proven to be the gift that keeps on giving.
2. Highlight the marketing initiatives you have developed, detailing the success of these initiatives.
Aside from developing the Cherry blog, Nikki has also been busy chipping away at new methods to boost her brand’s exposure. One that she’s become particularly passionate about are podcasts, having recently appeared as a guest speaker on both Elite Broker produced by The Adviser, and Kickass Radio, which focuses on female empowerment in the male dominated mortgage broking industry.
To further free up her time, Nikki has also recently added a new team member to the Cherry Lending & Finance crew – ‘Ava’. Powered by artificial intelligence, Ava is essentially a digital avatar of Nikki, and will guide website users to the information they need, while also being the poster girl online for graphics and social media marketing.
To begin, ‘Ava’ has been introduced through the form of educational content including download guides, templates, social graphics and even animated Instagram stories and reels. While she currently features across the Cherry marketing and communication channels, she will soon even be hosting her very own First Home Buyers Interactive Workshop. Over time, the AI capabilities of ‘Ava’ will change how Nikki interacts with her clients in a virtual environment, and is ultimately a tool to help ‘future proof’ Cherry Lending & Finance.
Another marketing tool that is rapidly gaining momentum is email marketing, via the monthly ‘Cherry News’ email. As the content often features snippets of helpful information from the blog, timely industry updates, budgeting resources and more, the initiative has been an incredibly effective way to keep her existing client base engaged, particularly during an era of rising interest rates, with more people than ever looking for security.
In turn, this approach has seen demand for refinancing soar, as Nikki’s existing clients are using this information to make informed decisions and take charge of their financial future.
3. What has been your biggest success?
Despite working in a fast paced, male dominated industry with time being a constraint, Nikki takes enormous pride in the fact that she’s increasingly being considered as an industry thought leader in what has arguably been quite a short amount of time.
While a lot has changed for Nikki and Cherry Lending & Finance in the last five years, one thing has remained the same: her approach to customer service. From sending Christmas cards to securing the best possible interest rates, the level of referrals that Nikki has – and continues – to receive is an ode to the legendary Cherry customer experience.
With a 98% customer retention rate, this is a true testament of Nikki’s ability to combine industry knowledge with true customer service, which has translated into consistent and sustainable growth for the business – even in the midst of a global pandemic.
In fact, Nikki considers her greatest success to be the fact that she has managed to build a sustainable business that’s continuing to grow, without having to sacrifice her ethics. Too many limitations on what she could do was the reason why Nikki left work at the ANZ Bank many years ago, but these days, ‘working financial miracles’ for clients is just a normal part of Nikki’s normal day.
It would seem that taking such a position was the right choice, as Nikki is also proud of her newer successes as an industry expert, and both participates in and instigates conversations around financial education and female empowerment via platforms such as podcasts and webinars.
In addition, Nikki also considers her status as a ‘go-to’ within the emergency services community for financial help one of her greatest achievements, as it’s arguably the pinnacle of her many years of experience across multiple sectors.
4. Describe how you inspire and motivate people in your workplace and your contribution to the development of the community.
Without the support of her community of clients, Nikki believes that she wouldn’t be where she is today – “so it’s important not to forget to support them in return, particularly for those working in or linked to the emergency services sector, who do so much for us.”
To reflect the recent changes with lending criteria for emergency service workers – 70% of Nikki’s client base – she made an enormous effort to get this vital information circulating. For Nikki, it was about so much more than a tweak to the rules, as these changes meant that emergency services workers could now do so much more with the money that they had worked incredibly hard to earn, and with Nikki’s help, could leverage their wages to enter the world of investing. Quite simply, she pushed this information to inspire them – and it worked.
Overall, Nikki’s extremely passionate about using her own experiences to help educate others – particularly women. While a background in firefighting and finance may not make sense on paper, Nikki Berzin’s superpowers are normalising non-traditional roles for women, breaking down barriers, and ultimately not letting fear hold her back.
Nikki’s role at Cherry Lending & Finance means that she’s now well and truly in the position to help other women to get financially fit, take control of their future, or even join the industry as a career path. In fact, it’s for this reason that Nikki jumped at the opportunity of being a guest speaker on Kickass Radio, a platform that specifically focuses on female empowerment within the mortgage broking industry.
Podcast aside, other strategies that Nikki is considering include putting on more female team members at Cherry, particularly those who are serious about a career in finance, and would like the opportunity to pursue a Cert IV in Mortgage Broking.