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423: How Affirm is Competing with Credit Cards and Driving Growth with VP of Marketing & Communications, Erika White

Erika White is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Affirm. While she has experienced great success in her career, as a child, she was a rambunctious and highly social student who was told she was wasting her potential. However, one special teacher believed in her, challenged her, and got her to see the potential in herself. That lesson stuck with Erika as she obtained both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Southern California and began to build an impressive resume. Erika got her start in marketing at Hilton, where she says another person saw her potential and took a chance on her. From there, she moved on to Director of Global Corporate Relations and Corporate Marketing at Visa, then to Pandora as their Corporate Communications Director, then to Director of External Affairs at TPG, a large private equity firm, before landing at Affirm. In her role at Affirm, she oversees the core functions of building the brand, including brand and partner marketing, creative, paid activations, social media, and communications. 

On the show today, Alan and Erika talk about Affirm’s place in the ever-growing buy now, pay later market as a more honest, transparent, and flexible alternative to credit cards for over 17 million active consumers and over 290,000 merchants. Erika tells us about the role buy now, pay later has in the overall marketplace and where she believes the industry is headed. She also gives us an overview of how she and her team are driving growth and customer acquisition for their retail partners, what she sees as the role of marketing as a whole, and why marketers have to always be adapting, changing, and embracing fluidity. She drives this point home by identifying those as the same attributes she looks for in new hires and telling us how her team embraces those qualities to continuously find new opportunities for value creation. 

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • The key attributes that set Affirm apart and how they benefit merchants
  • What is next in the buy now, pay later category?
  • The role of brand and cross-functional partnerships in marketing

Key Highlights:

  • [01:45] A special teacher that impacted Erika
  • [06:35] The peak and valleys in her career path
  • [11:30] The state of Affirm’s businesses today
  • [12:55] What is unique about Affirm?
  • [15:45] How is this similar to and different from layaway?
  • [17:45] What is next in the buy now/pay later category?
  • [20:15] The value proposition for merchants 
  • [22:20] The role of marketing 
  • [24:45] How she learned smart risk-taking 
  • [27:15] The role of brand and last year’s refresh
  • [30:15] Speed, precision, and fluidity
  • [32:25] Read more books and nurture relationships. 
  • [33:55] AI is a mandatory consideration. 
  • [37:55] A decline in the desire for 4-year degrees 
  • [41:25] The threat of lacking agility

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