OPINION: Effective fintech marketing requires agile structures

Simeon Lando

Simeon Lando, Chief Marketing Officer, Form3, discusses the dos and don’ts of agile structures and the value they can bring to marketers. 

In an industry as dynamic and fast-moving as fintech, the marketing department plays a crucial role. However, too often marketers are limited in the impact they can have because of outmoded organisational structures.

Within smaller fintechs – particularly young companies – agility is a watchword, yet this philosophy isn’t always applied across the business as a whole. Agile methodology might be adhered to when it comes to product development, but the approach to marketing is much more traditional.

Even worse, marketing can be neglected altogether. Startups especially focus on keeping their operations lean and this can mean that marketing tasks fall under the remit of the founder, or perhaps a salesperson. But treating marketing as an afterthought is a big mistake.

Even when budgets are tight, marketing should be a priority for fintech organisations no matter how big or small, new or established. In addition, it’s important that the structure of the marketing department should reflect the dynamism and ever-changing nature of the fintech industry if they want to succeed.


How should the marketing department be structured?

Marketing is not a monolith, and within a marketing department of any size of organisation there are a number of dedicated roles that need to be filled. You need people with a deep understanding of the industry and the product who can create content that will resonate with potential customers. You need people who understand how to create demand generation; people with skills in building brand awareness, and if the company is planning to move into new territories, individuals with experience and understanding of those markets too.

It’s also important to ensure that the structure of the marketing department is as flat as possible. The format should allow everyone to have a voice, to come up with ideas and run with them. Experimentation is a key feature within truly ‘agile’ businesses, and in an agile marketing department team members should be able to move from ideation to action as quickly as possible.

To enable effective experimentation, digital marketing tools are vital. Using digital marketing channels will allow marketers to test and learn quickly. The agility of digital tools means that you learn fast from mistakes, with little negative impact. As long as you take lessons from them, failures will lead to successes and improved effectiveness.

Marketers need to be empowered to work in collaboration with to help identify the issues and challenges that their clients face – invaluable knowledge for marketers who want to create compelling content that will lead to positive business outcomes.


The dangers of deprioritising marketing

As well as collaborating with other departments, marketers need to be able to feed into the projects taking place in other parts of the organisation. With their understanding of the wider industry and the market they serve, their input can inform product roadmaps and ensure the services that the company is providing are actually meeting demand. Without marketers providing this insight, fintech organisations might find that they create products that customers don’t want – or launch their services to market far too late to have any impact.

For fintechs that don’t have a fully-fledged marketing function, cutting through the noise is going to be difficult, if not impossible. If these businesses can’t connect with their target audience, they won’t last long. They need to build brand awareness and credibility, be seen in the right places by the right people, or the sales department will find it very hard to drive engagement with potential clients.

An effective marketing department can not only build brand awareness and credibility for fintech organisations; it can also make them stand out from the crowd. It’s a competitive industry, so it’s vital for fintechs to be able to tell their story and explain why customers should be listening to them above all others. If marketing is treated as an afterthought, then the business won’t be able to stand out in the market and set itself up for success.


How marketing departments can prove their value

While you and I understand the value that marketing departments bring to the overall organisation, convincing non-marketers is not so easy. Ultimately, CEOs are focused on overall business performance, so the marketing department needs to be able to demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) from its discretionary spend.

Having an experienced leader that comes from a commercial background is the key. With a CMO on the executive committee, marketing can explain based on analysis the impact that it is having and how it contributes to the wider success of the organisation. Therefore, it’s vital to have the right processes and technology in place to be able to attribute qualified leads and sales directly back to marketing activity. This, in turn, means marketers can prove ROI – the language that CEOs and CFOs understand.

Data analysis is another area that marketing departments should be exploring in order to prove their value to the organisation.

There’s a lot that younger companies in the fintech area can learn from their data, not just from analysing their own marketing performance but from customer data as well. By building a more complete and accurate picture of who their customers are, they can target them more accurately and adapt to their needs when necessary.

In conclusion, there’s a lot more that marketing departments can do to bring value to fintech organisations if they go about it in the right way. Using a flat structure as a foundation, coupled with pragmatic leaders that are prepared to let staff speak up and experiment, great results can follow. Establishing the marketing department as a real source of value within the business will help to strengthen relationships with other departments in the business, leading to better outcomes for all. Fintechs in particular should be true to their digital roots and make sure they have best-in-class technology solutions to measure their performance, and marketers in any fintech should be prepared to do what it takes to prove their value.

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