Over a 20-year career in FinTech and RegTech marketing, one of my key learnings is that marketing is probably one of the most misunderstood disciplines in business. What I mean by that is that that there is a perception that it’s not as difficult or strategic as say Risk, Finance or Technology - all disciplines that require subject matter experts.
Unfortunately, despite its recognised status as a chartered profession, marketing still seems to fall into the ‘anyone can do it’ category which then means that the right skills, efforts and focus aren’t always in place. Even when a professional is employed in a role, the marketing function is often not given the same support or management focus as others so therefore isn’t well placed to generate the best possible results.
I’m not trying to position marketing as rocket science, because it is not. However, we are professionals with specific skills and knowledge – not the ‘colouring in department' that many seem to think we are. But successful marketing outcomes do need more know-how than simply putting together some ad-hoc tactical activities such as PR or social media in order to deliver sustainable results that matter to a business.
I recently joined a RegTech Women webinar (click here to watch the replay) to discuss my top 5 tips for how to develop marketing results that matter and build a successful RegTech brand. And here they are:
1. Know your target audience. Everyone is not your market and while that might seem obvious, you would be surprised at how many business founders respond with phrases like ‘anyone in a risk function’ or ‘the asset management industry’ when asked who their offering is targeted at. Words like ‘any/every/entire’ indicates general language and if you are talking to everyone, then you are really talking to no-one. Although narrowing your focus will mean actively choosing to ignore the wider market and can feel counter-intuitive to trying to grow a business, in doing so it allows you to refine your story and create impact with the people who matter to you. Ironically when you do that, the word will spread. To do this you need to do 3 things:
- Understand the problem you solve for your client (as opposed to what you think they need)
- Paint a picture of that specific client eg location, job description, job functions such as decision-maker, budget holder, end user etc.
- Know where you can reach them eg social media channels, media publications etc.
2. Focus your message on your customer needs. My second tip is closely linked to knowing your audience. It’s critical to remember that your messaging should never be about you, your technology, how great you are, how much expertise you have or the awards you have won. These are all really good evidence points to validate why a client should choose you, but they shouldn’t be the main focus of your message. Good messages address customer needs by focusing on the pain points that your offering alleviates. A message like “enabling businesses to simplify operations and manage risk seamlessly” neither informs, engages nor inspire. But worse than that that it doesn’t tell me what the company does or what specific need it meets e.g. what type of risk does it help manage…operational, market, enterprise-wide? What businesses is it helping?
3. Be different. The main purpose of marketing is to stand out, not compete – and to do that you don’t need to be better than everyone else, you just need to be different. And that doesn’t mean a different version of what your competitors are doing – it means being actually different. That isn’t confined to a message that focuses on something different to your competitors – it can be having a different commercial model, different pricing, brilliant customer service – however you want to be different in the market. There are 7 Ps in the marketing mix (Product, Price, Place, Promotion, Process, People and Physical Evidence), yet most people seem to only focus on the Promotion as the key area for differentiation. But there are six other Ps to consider as ways to really stand out, so think differently in order to be different and don’t conform to how everyone else does things
4. Have a plan. This may sound absolutely obvious but it still surprises me how many companies embark on various marketing activities without a plan in place. To put the tactical cart before the strategic horse is absolutely unsustainable for long term results. Marketing activities are definitely an important part of the plan, but they are not the plan itself so learn to walk before you run by having the following in place:
- A clearly defined target market
- Messaging aimed at addressing the needs of this target market
- Marketing objectives of what you are trying to achieve with your activity that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) and regularly reviewed
You wouldn’t set off on a journey without knowing where you are headed, and if it’s to a new destination I’m guessing you would have a navigational source or map with you – so why should a marketing journey be any different? You need to have a plan.
5. Measure the right results. Measuring results in marketing has become a key focus in recent times but are your efforts to prove that results are really being measured overshadowing the quality and relevance of the actual results? Any metrics or results captured should always be actionable and relevant as opposed to vanity metrics that simply provide numbers as a justification for efforts and cost. For example, are content marketing downloads capturing any old Gmail or outlook addresses, or are they business email addresses only? Do you have the right followers on LinkedIn or are you just focused on growing the number of followers? RegTech is a niche, specialised market so is having 10,000 LinkedIn followers genuinely a valuable measure of success and how do you know they are the right type of followers? Even when it’s a numbers game, quality wins over quantity every time, so it’s imperative to ensure that you aren’t compromising the quality of your results by trying to impress with numbers. Your numbers need to be meaningful so that they serve a purpose so remember that not every recorded metric will be relevant.
Without a doubt, marketing is a business discipline that can change the direction of a company, the success of a product as well as the attitudes or opinions about a company and its products. But for marketing to be successful, it’s critical that the basics are in place to facilitate that success – and the 5 tips above are a good foundation on which to get started.
Martina Doherty is a Member and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the founder and managing director of MD Consulting - a boutique Marketing and PR agency serving the FinTech and RegTech markets.
Over a 20-year career she has worked with large investment banks such as Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, Deutsche Bank, State Street and UBS as well as market-leading and FX technology companies such as FXall, Currency Cloud, Currenex, Digital Vega, Know Your Customer (KYC), Red Deer and Quantexa.
In addition to working with FinTech and Reg Tech companies to help them promote their businesses, Martina also runs a successful masterclass programme for Marketing and PR in FinTech and RegTech markets.
For more information on her masterclasses and to sign up to the next one, visit www.mdconsulting.com/masterclasses