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Q&A with Manilla’s VP of Marketing: How to Simplify and Organize Your Life

Sarah Kaufman

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Keeping track of all of your personal finances, accounts, and bills is a challenge. However, it doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult. We sat down with Marc Karasu, vice president of Marketing at Manilla, to discuss some personal finance tips on how people can organize their lives and live stress free.

Can you tell us a little bit about Manilla? How does it work?

Karasu: Manilla is the leading, free and secure service that lets consumers manage their bills and accounts in one place online and using our award-winning mobile apps. With just one password, Manilla lets you manage and share your financial accounts, utility bills, daily deals, travel and rewards programs, magazine and Netflix subscriptions, OpenTable reservations, healthcare accounts, and more.

Who should be using it?

Karasu: Manilla is for anyone who is looking to simplify and organize his or her daily life. The service is truly for everyone — students who are looking to organize their loans and learn how to start managing their bills; busy parents who have an entire household to manage; people with aging parents who are looking to co-manage bills and finances; frequent travelers who have too many airline miles and hotel points to track. The list goes on and on.

What are some of the advantages of using a service like Manilla?

Karasu: Our customers frequent Manilla for all different reasons, but the value proposition of using a service like Manilla is the ability to put everything in one place. Manilla eliminates the need for consumers to visit 20 different provider websites with 20 different account logins.

Another key benefit of Manilla is the reminders feature. Manilla sends automatic bill pay reminders via text or email one, three or seven days before your bill is due (all of those settings are completely customizable). Manilla also offers free, unlimited online document storage, so you can electronically access your bills and statements whenever you need them, and you can download and print them if you need a paper copy.

Why do you think individuals and families should go paperless when it comes to their money?

Karasu: To get rid of clutter — that’s really the main reason. Especially now that it’s spring-cleaning season, getting rid of clutter is on everyone’s minds, and eliminating unnecessary paper is an integral part of that. With a service like Manilla, which automatically retrieves and stores your account documents online in an easy-to-navigate archive.

What do you think are the biggest hang-ups people have about going paperless?

Karasu: Habit plays a big role. I think a lot of times it simply comes down to the fact that people like to stick what they’re used to, and many people have long held onto paper copies of their bills and statements. We understand that going completely paperless can be a bit intimidating for people who have always dealt with paper, so we’ve written about how to make the transition easier — you can check out some of our articles on The Manilla Folder, our online magazine, and on Manilla.com.

What is Bill Share and how can it help families? 

Karasu: We just launched Bill Share, a new feature that lets users securely and easily collaborate on bill management with their spouse or partner, parent, child, roommate, accountant, or anyone else. Bill Share also provides a conversation platform to comment on or discuss a bill or account. We’re really excited about this feature because it’s something our customers have been wanting for a long time, and we feel it will vastly improve the way our customers are managing their bills.

How secure are money management services like yours?

Karasu: We’re always thinking about security. It’s important to our customers, and it’s important to us. Our practices are monitored and verified by TRUSTe, Verisign, Tinfoil and other security agencies.

Why do service providers like partnering with Manilla? How does it help their businesses?

Karasu: We’re a consumer-facing business, but what many people don’t know is that we’re actually a business-to-business (B2B) company, as well. When businesses partner with Manilla, they see growth in online registrations, improved engagement with customers, and reduced paper mailing costs by converting their customers to paperless billing. Our partners — which include companies like AT&T, Citi, Comcast and Fifth Third Bank — also benefit from cross-sell and upsell opportunities in an environment closed from competitors. Any companies that are interested in partnering with Manilla can contact sales@manilla.com.

What do you see are the most common concerns or frustrations of your users when trying to get a handle on their finances?

Karasu: The two biggest concerns we see are:

1. People who like to manage their lives online have to log into multiple websites and use multiple usernames and passwords. Manilla takes away this frustration by providing immediate access to all account information using just one password. Customers get a complete organized overview of everything going on in their lives in one secure dashboard.

2. People don’t pay their bills on time, not because they don’t have the funds, but because they simply forget to make the payments. Our automatic bill pay reminders helps reduce this concern because Manilla reminds customers when their bills are due, helping customers to avoid late fees.

What’s one of your favorite money-saving or money-management tips?

Karasu: One of my top tips for managing your money is to create a budget in its most basic form: your monthly income minus your monthly mandatory expenses. Many people are overwhelmed by the idea of budgeting because they think it means breaking it down into very specific categories and penalizing yourself for even slightly going over. That’s really not the case. Your mandatory expenses come first — these are things with a deadline or penalty, such as your rent or mortgage, utility bills, and credit card and other debt payments (I also like to throw in retirement and other savings goal amounts into the mandatory category). Once you subtract that total amount from your monthly income, the difference is what you have to spend on everything else.

There’s no need to nickel and dime yourself because every month is going to be different — some months, you’ll find yourself spending more money on dining out with friends, whereas during other months, you’ll find yourself staying in more and spending less. The point of budgeting is to make sure you’re saving enough, paying your bills on time, and not spending more than you have.

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Marc Karasu is the VP of Marketing at Manilla, leading earned, owned and paid media and brand positioning. Marc has more than 20 years of experience in traditional and digital marketing in large companies, advertising agencies, start-ups and as an entrepreneur. Marc is dedicated to helping people make Manilla a part of their everyday lives so that they can be more organized, live more simply, and have everything in one place.


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