Graduates today leave school saddled with debts of more than $40,000 apiece — collectively, more than $1.3b. Gradifi created a unique solution — a program that enables employers to offer a new workplace benefit to help — the “Employee Loan Paydown” program. Like 401k matching or tuition assistance, employers could use this perk to attract and retain the best employees and their team members would pay their loans down 25 percent faster. Using earned media as its primary marketing tool, InkHouse began an aggressive campaign to launch the company. The goals were clear: generate media coverage to drive new leads from employers, while educating consumers on the availability of such benefits and simultaneously positioning the company’s CEO as a student debt expert.
InkHouse identified a key asset to “launch” the company and its concept — its partnership with Radius Bank, illustrating the banking industry’s endorsement of Gradifi in order to generate further leads. Gradifi does not have an outbound sales team — and used PR and InkHouse as its sole lead-generation tool. And it worked. InkHouse followed the launch with campaigns to consumer, HR tech and financial services publications, bolstered by a steady stream of proactive pitching positioning CEO Tim DeMello as an expert on the student debt crisis. With nearly 90 individual pieces of significant earned coverage, less than six months after launch, the company was acquired by First Republic Bank as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Gradifi still works with InkHouse post-acquisition.