marketing products and taking applications on-line.
The Wells Fargo & Co. unit is expected to announce today that senior vice president Doug Rossbach will lead its Internet marketing initiative. Mr. Rossbach, 48, previously ran consumer sales and marketing.
Mr. Rossbach will oversee the revamping of Norwest's Web site, which has been just a billboard encouraging visitors to phone, send an e-mail message, or visit a local branch. It does not provide up-to-the-minute rates or take applications.
Beginning this fall, the Des Moines home-lending giant will be able to take a portion of a homebuyer's application on the Web. Norwest customers will be able to make payments and check their balances on-line.
Last week the company announced a marketing deal with Homestore.com, which operates four Web sites that list properties for sale. Norwest and Wells will advertise on Homestore's sites, and there will be links between Homestore's sites and those of the mortgage company and its parent bank.
"We certainly are getting much more aggressive on the Internet," Mr. Rossbach said.
The campaign has been in the works for about four months, Mr. Rossbach said. Though the Internet accounts for only a tiny share of mortgage loans industrywide, that market segment is growing. "Everybody realized it was time," Mr. Rossbach said.
Norwest is not yet embracing the Internet to the extent of some competitors. Its Web site will not allow a user to complete an application without getting a Norwest sales representative involved, either over the phone or in a branch.
"Most consumers are not well equipped to really understand the alternatives they have in terms of mortgage products," he said. "The best way to be sure they're in the right product is to have a conversation before they lock in" a mortgage.
Besides, Mr. Rossbach said, Norwest has found through its market research that customers dislike sitting at computer terminals filling out applications. The site will complement Norwest's other channels, not divert resources from them, he said.
Other on-line lenders, such as Rock Financial of Bingham Farms, Mich., are trying to minimize human interaction in the lending process.
Norwest will get help improving its Web site from Wells Fargo's 300-person on-line financial services group. Wells recently announced it had signed up its one millionth on-line banking customer.
Separately, Norwest appointed Philip Yee to a new position, chief marketing officer. Mr. Yee, 46, comes most recently from mortgage insurer Amerin Guaranty, which in June merged with Commonwealth Mortgage Assurance Corp. to form Radian Guaranty.
Mr. Yee will oversee Norwest's advertising, marketing, and branding campaigns, as well as product development. The mortgage unit plans to adopt the Wells Fargo name next year.
Mr. Yee spearheaded Amerin's creative branding efforts, which included mailing Beanie Baby-like dolls to mortgage processors and throwing lavish parties featuring singers Bernadette Peters and Aretha Franklin at industry conventions.