There is no shortage of crystal ball predictions for fintech trends, but one thing is certain: The explosive growth of financial technology is disrupting long-standing financial institutions and mobile-first applications are driving fintech companies deeper into our wallets and financial lives. A completion of sources estimates fintechs to be about 20 percent of global unicorns.
Some fintech pockets related to payments and investing are maturing while others like reg tech and blockchain applications are just taking shape. But they share one common challenge–with so much noise in the marketplace and the added pressure from investors to be successful, fintechs must gain a credible share of voice.
The potential is there. In 2017, $60 billion worth of payments will be made on mobile platforms. By 2020, 90 percent of smartphone users will have made a mobile payment. But to achieve long-term success, fintechs must be taken seriously by investors and potential partners (like banks) and distinguish their brand to have a lasting impact and avoid being a passing craze.
Here are nine marketing strategies fintechs can deploy today to chase their magic unicorn dreams:
1. Don’t just talk about yourself. All fintech companies are already talking about how they make payments and financial services safer, faster, digital-first and more convenient and that they are backed by the most bad-ass investment team. You need way more to stand out. The most credible companies go beyond just promoting their brand by demonstrating true thought leadership that shows they understand what is shaping the industry today and what will drive it in the future. Tell a bigger story about the end user: what they gain, how they feel and the pain points they still face.
2. Know your customer: If you can’t quickly and simply explain how you solve customers’ problems, then you either don’t know your customer or your solution isn’t very good. Use research to back up the emotional benefits of your products and services.
3. Know when and where your prospects get information. Publishing information in outlets and channels that aren’t embraced by your audience is a waste of time. Don’t guess. Listen and ask first, publish second.
4. Make your content marketing work smarter, not harder. Most companies end up being a mile wide and an inch deep on their content. Instead, start with a couple of good thought-leadership topics that directly support your value proposition, and use them over and over. Content can be based on primary research (or a good round up of secondary research if you can’t afford your own.)
Next, slice the content and data into digestible stories that you can deliver often through impactful channels. While it may feel repetitive internally; brands that consistently deliver the same key messages are most effective at gaining mindshare. Be sure to disseminate content through homegrown networks (like a company blog or LinkedIn) as well as amplifier channels like media outlets.
5. Employ beautiful design. Humans are moved by good design, plain and simple. Your carefully crafted messaging will be for nothing if it’s delivered in an ugly package. Spend the time and money on good design and you will have more of an impact. Don’t skimp on this spend.
6. Develop strong media relationships that start with niche players. Build credibility with more focused players first to build a track record. Fintech companies want to see their names in print, but sometimes don’t understand what each media outlet is looking for, what their lead times are, or how they organize their coverage. It’s essential to approach journalists with this intelligence, or you will quickly be dismissed. Next, pitch newsworthy stories, trend topics and executive bylines that will position you as a helpful source. Show how your company’s voice or opinion is helpful to a larger story or trend that is unfolding. You cannot just churn out press releases that advertise your company’s products or services and expect the media coverage to come rolling in.
7. Network. Connecting with influencers like research firms, analysts, conference planners and journalists can go a long way in solidifying your thought leadership and opening doors to new opportunities. Additionally, joining trade associations and collaborating on government relations drive positive change for the industry and provide a great platform to showcase your thinking and expertise.
8. Be in the right places, doing the right things. Fintechs can burn through their entire marketing budget constructing ornate trade show booths and attending every payments and technology conference, often with little return to show for it. Instead, hone in on the shows that really matter and get involved in ways that will truly demonstrate thought leadership or showcase your brand’s differentiators. Make your brand stand out by speaking on a panel or winning an award, and eliminate the expense of exhibiting or buying nebulous sponsorships.
9. Develop a one, five and 10-year “brand” plan. Fintech and the payments industry at large are experiencing massive growth, upheaval, innovation and consolidation. What is your brand’s goal? To become a service provider or consumer solution that remains independent? Or to develop a successful enough solution to eventually be acquired? These goals should shape your marketing strategy. One requires targeting your end user while the other should focus on making your brand visible to potential buyers.