Despite stubborn assumptions that marketers in finance have extravagant budgets to play with, the fact is, almost all of them are under pressure to “do more with less”. This is especially so at smaller, boutique investment houses, who really need to squeeze every last penny of return from their investments in marketing.
And they’re far from alone – in fact, smaller businesses from every sector have to innovate constantly to come up with marketing that translates into business results. At a recent event hosted by the Financial Services Forum, three entrepreneurs and marketers from highly diverse backgrounds discussed what had worked for them, and the lessons this could have for financial marketers.
Ruth Saunders, Director, Galleon Blue:
Drawing from a distinguished career in marketing for consumer and business brands, as well as professional services, Saunders recounted a marketing success from 1999 as being especially illustrative of how smaller firms can make a major impact on a limited budget.
Working on behalf of Confetti.co.uk, Saunders and her team had £500,000 to turn what was then one of several wedding-services websites into a market leader. Within six months, they had turned the company into the country’s biggest wedding database – larger than John Lewis and Marks & Spencer – and grown its share of the target audience to 93%. Equally importantly, their data showed an 87% correlation between their ad spend and new registrations to the site.
In assessing this success, Saunders highlighted six measures that were both highly effective and extremely cost-efficient:
1) Tightly defined audience: Rather than aiming for all prospective brides, Confetti.co.uk focused on city-dwelling 30-31 year olds getting married for the first time. Consequently, they restricted their ad spend to channels that very specifically spoke to this demographic, such as Drivetime Radio and ads in the Metro newspaper.
2) Very strong colourway: every Confetti.co.uk ad included a strong dash of lilac, making the colour strongly linked with the brand in the public mind.
3) Contrary approach: while its competitors emphasised a “problem-solving” approach to weddings (how to handle guest lists, dealing with logistics, etc), Confetti.co.uk opted for a mischievous, humorous tone. Enlisting a then up-and-coming Graham Norton to ad-lib radio ads proved to be a masterstroke.
4) Great partnerships: perhaps the best example was British Airways – in exchange for access to Confetti.co.uk’s wedding database, the airline provided the company with what would usually be massively expensive advertising space in the inflight magazine.
5) Lottery competition – every month, a randomly chosen new sign-up to the Confetti.co.uk website would win £10,000. While the whole campaign cost a relatively hefty £120,000, it brought in some 60% of the company’s overall registrants.
6) Analyse, learn and change: by constant analysis of data, Confetti.co.uk was able to withdraw from underperforming areas – wedding dresses and a catalogue business being key examples.
Sam Gilbert, Chief Marketing Officer, Bought By Many
From a perspective of marketing one of the insurtech sector’s fastest-growing entrants, Sam Gilbert had two key recommendations for achieving more with less.
1) Think “long tail”: Though most of the big insurance companies focus on the big-ticket keywords – car insurance, home insurance – some 40% of the market is in the “long tail”, according to Gilbert. In this region of more specific, sometimes obscure keywords, competition is far lower, leaving the online ground open for insurers willing to focus on very specific needs: travel insurance for people with type 2 diabetes, pet insurance for French bulldogs, and much more besides. This trait is echoed by providers of business insurance, who frequently talk in terms of insurance for indemnity or liability, when small-business owners might just want to know how they can get cover for their dog-walking service. Google, Gilbert said, loves long-tail content.
2) Be contrarian with channels: To many marketers, the question is, “Why should I bother with Bing when it only has a 12% share of the search market?” For Gilbert, the question is, “Why miss out on such a straightforward way of boosting our traffic by 12%?” Also, while some marketers expend huge amounts of resource on focus groups, Gilbert pointed out that Facebook ads – as well as being formidable means of promotion – serve as a ready-made, observational groups via their comment sections. Twitter, used properly, can be every bit as effective, with streams following hashtags or company mentions providing real-time market research and sales leads.
Alex Cheatle, Founder, Ten Group
For Cheatle, the key point behind marketing – and business success more generally – is that “meaning is more powerful than money”. Thus, marketing and messaging must be consistent with what a business truly is. “If you are luxury”, he said, “be luxury. If – like us – you aren’t, don’t be.”
Cheatle said that Ten Group aspires to be “the most trusted service business in the world.” Having such a clear, consistent vision can be incredibly powerful in retaining business and bringing the best staff on board. Having briefly abandoned the “why” section in their client pitches, Cheatle said that bringing it back had resulted in clients buying more and staying for longer.
In a range of other tips, Cheatle advised:
– For each marketing task, provide a great brief. Money and time are short, so staff should know exactly what they need to do and – crucially – how much time they should spend on it.
– Solicit customer referrals just after a client has signed up. Why? Because most people don’t refer in order to recommend good services – they refer to justify their own decision to buy.
– To sidestep expensive marketing, speed up the sales process. Think long and hard before expending vast amounts of time and resource creating beautifully crafted sales brochures.
– Be careful with your comps, especially in B2B services. With loyal clients, it’s easy to get drawn into providing a growing list of free perks and favours.
– Remember that everyone in your company is a potential advocate, so have cards printed for everyone and ensure they all know the pitch.