Holvi Blog for Makers and Doers

5 marketing assumptions that don't apply to fintech (2/3)

Business tips, Business marketing, Business banking · 21/10/15 12:22 · Elina Räsänen

How to build a fintech brand from scratch, part 2. Take a look at the first part here.

Around a year ago in 2014 when we started to build our European presence, little did we know that fintech indeed is a special branch of the startup tree. We’ve picked up a variety of dos and don’ts along the way, of which some we’ve learned to articulate only looking backwards.  In this blog post we’re going to share our Top 5 marketing assumptions that don’t apply to fintech. Naturally, these are our biased opinions and we welcome any criticism on the topic, so feel free to leave a comment under this post.

1. Better done than perfect!

If you’re a founder or an early stage startup employee, you’ve probably come across this quote many times at numerous startup events and meetups.  And while it’s partly true - you shouldn’t get caught in every tiny little detail as you’re anyways going to need to adapt your initial plan - you still shouldn’t take this as your fintech mantra. Security and reliability are the backbone of any financial service. Great things take time to build. But you will thank your future self for the patience - your customers expect your service to be 100 % reliable and of course you want to provide them the very best. And it’s not only about the money. Our customers, who are entrepreneurs and business owners, rely on us to allow them to pay their office rents and utility bills on time.

2. Let’s do live testing!

Imagine this: “We are testing transferring money to your second account, strangely enough it didn’t work out. Maybe next time.. Let’s try again!” In fintech, there’s no such thing as live testing with customers. Sufficient testing should be done within your safe and sound sandbox and if you need people to test your latest product feature.. well that’s why you have your dedicated team ready to help you!


3. The fastest and easiest way to learn is to copy something existing

While it’s commonly known that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it doesn’t work. Not in fintech but actually not in any other industry either. You don’t create something unique people love by copying someone else or telling someone else’s story. If you want to substantially change behaviour and applications of your product and service, you need to create your own strategy. Start with customer acquisition - applying the same methods and strategies as traditional banks and paying 100 € or more per customer referral won’t get you anywhere. Fintech startups are not here to take down banks. We have a completely different purpose. What startups can bring to the table are new and lean methods for customer acquisition, sustainable cost structure, modern technology stack and completely new techniques to take advantage of everything we ever learned from fast growing internet startups. It’s not only about catchy marketing phrases, shiny UI and a lot of hype, it’s the whole package that you have to figure out.  Everyone working within the financial industry knows that change is painful and it takes time. But that’s why we’re here.

4. Focus on disruption!

We’ve been there too. Described ourselves as world’s first, revolutionary and disruptive but it’s not enough. Fintech at its core is disruptive, sure, but it’s time to focus on something else too. The problem of being continuously disruptive is your perspective on what you’d like to achieve. Focusing too much on traditional players, fellow fintechs and what’s already out there might get you lost on already proven concepts and services. That’s not disruptive at all! Your only focus should be completely somewhere else: creating customer centric value. Be razor sharp when it comes down to the value you are creating and the customer segment you are targeting. Put your time and efforts on understanding your customer needs rather than being busy looking for spotlight. As Peter Thiel so accurately puts it: Focus on taking your startup and idea from 0 to 1, not from 1 to 100.

5. Profound groundwork will lead to sustainable word of mouth and customer acquisition

Excellence in marketing is not a shooting star — as much as we’d like it to be on the startup evening sky. Generating leads and boosting your initial reach is nice, however not as significant as continuously creating customer value and being available. Ironically, the aggregated conscious memory of the internet is as long lasting as a tweet, nevertheless, your customers’ perception and awareness of your brand are substantially defined by little recurring touchpoints with you. You are never done. Well, realistically, almost never. That is part of your job. Excellent product design and customer process flows will lift the weight of this responsibility and if you take customer feedback sincerely seriously you will carry your duty with joy. To be fair, scientists still have not proven that a perpetuum mobile governed by the known laws of physics exists (at least not to our knowledge). Customers do understand that your team consists of human beings — with all ups and downs and anything in between. Human beings are far from perfect but that is also your number one differentiator. You will make mistakes, you will iterate, you will make yourself work harder and eventually you will make it a habit — an ongoing one.

That’s all for now, do you agree? What are your key learnings from marketing and brand building? Tweet us at @holvi or leave a comment. Stay tuned for our last blog post on our brand building journey:  From Branding to Customer acquisition, our practical guide on how to start marketing as a fintech startup.

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