From start-up to scale-up
What we’ve learned within two years at FintechOS.
In the last two years the marketing team at FintechOS has grown from one person to a fully scoped team able to spearhead our global expansion. Marketing is now composed of three units: Brand and Corporate Marketing, Product Marketing, and my stream, Demand Generation and Growth Marketing.
Thus, I want to take a moment and share with you some of the biggest lessons we've learned so far in Demand Generation and Growth Marketing (DG), as well as some of our hopes for the future. Making the transition from a start-up to scale-up can be the most thrilling experience in business. We are in the midst of something very special, and the Demand Generation team is incredibly proud of what we've achieved so far, as a company and as a team.
What do we do, in Demand Generation?
First of all, let me give you a quick summary of what we do in demand generation. Our role is to fulfil the following goals:
- Create and run integrated DG marketing programs that consist of a series of micro-campaigns in order to generate new leads, nurture existing leads, support pipeline progression, upsell and ecosystem sales
- Leverage co-branded opportunities (with partners, external sponsored opportunities, trade associations, customers)
- Generate pipeline through a series of inbound and outbound activities business development activities with the BDR (Business Development Representatives) team – actually the most recent addition to the DG function
- Marketing technologies stack optimization and performance analytics (marketing is much more about technology today than in the past, as we use over 15 tech tools in our daily activities)
Summary of our achievements for H1 2021
And our performance? Here are a few highlights from H1 2021:
- We’ve doubled and optimized the DG team, currently working almost like a full stack digital agency
- 26% of the current sales pipeline was generated by marketing activities, or strongly marketing influenced
- We increased 4x the volume of marketing leads in H1 2021 in comparison to the entire year of 2020
- We had the first customer wins that were marketing generated (AB Zambia, Bloom and 50+ more opportunities in the pipeline)
- This year we created multiple marketing assets for our integrated DG programs. We hosted so far 10+ webinars, we sponsored and spoke at 10+ niched industry events that converted into sales and marketing leads, we have created various content assets, reports, surveys, blog posts that were used in integrated DG programs – with the main goal of generating new marketing and sales leads, nurture prospects and create some buzz
- We recently launched two monthly newsletters – one for banking and one for insurance to nurture our 40k+ contacts from HubSpot CRM
- We launched the first co-branded marketing initiatives with our partners - with EY, Microsoft, Vonage
- We’ve improved our Martech stack and analytics – we are now able to measure important things such as lead conversion rate, hot & warm leads volumes per industry, top performing marketing channels, target accounts engagement scoring and more.
Now for the lessons. In the last two years we’ve generated a tremendous amount of insight into high performance marketing. Here are some of the principles we’ve developed that now shape our strategy at Demand Generation.
Demand Generation Marketing is a partnership
At the core, Demand Generation is about building integrated marketing programs that support our business goals. It’s about a true understanding of our differentiated selling proposition, our customer segments and their buyer journey. It’s about translating our value proposition into valuable, yet simple to understand campaign messaging, choosing the best customer touchpoints, and the right mix of channels and tactics to stand out when surrounded by “loud” digital noise and get in front of the right audience at the right time. This is not a one-man/one-team show, but an organization-wide partnership.
Our team encompasses roles spanning campaigns management (project management), event management, content writing & repurpose, graphic design, martech operations, PLUS, as of recent, Business Development Representatives. We are a team and in a way we almost operate as an inhouse digital agency for our global campaigns. But we do not work in a silo. We, as a function, sit somewhere in the middle of the sales funnel.
Our success is strongly dependent on the strategic input we receive from the leadership team and from other departments. We need to sync and work closely with Sales, Product Marketing, Product Management, and Brand & Corporate Marketing, Ecosystem, Customer Success and more. In the end, the closer we connect with other teams, the more we’ll increase performance, as an organization.
We love it when other FintechOS colleagues get in touch with us, want to understand more about what we do, provide feedback or make suggestions, so I use this opportunity to invite you to contact us more often.
Shift DG strategy from random acts to logical sequencing
In the early days our marketing was a little hit and miss. We needed to explore new ideas and channels. It was an adventure and a powerful learning opportunity. At times our efforts could feel a little, shall we say, unstructured. Today FintechOS DG marketing values rigorous thinking, driven by market metrics, clear campaigns objectives and proper campaign and programs planning, as part of broader, mid-term programs.
We live and die by KPIs. We measure demand generation. Website analytics, Hubspot analytics, social media analytics and Power BI are some of the tools that help us measure and optimize campaign success, cost per lead, top performing channels & campaigns which consequently impacts pipeline and in revenue. Ideas are great – but we are evidence driven. It's the only way to improve performance over time.
Co-brand with other organizations
Partnerships are essential for DG success. FintechOS is becoming an increasingly powerful brand but there is a growing digital noise we need to cope with. Everyone is digital and our global competition is harsh. We need to stand out, and one important approach is by leveraging the right co-branding opportunities in our DG programs.
We look to co-brand with partners, trade associations, influencers, matchmaking platforms, and publications to get in front of the right prospects by jointly leveraging our marketing machineries and audiences. EY, Deloitte, Altus or Microsoft are just some of these partners. Microsoft, for example, is a vocal advocate for FintechOS, and is helping us reach new audiences worldwide.
Use Design Thinking concepts to map our customer journey (the Demand Generation version)
Design Thinking is a powerful tool in commercial thinking. Put briefly, it is the art of using the methods of designers in a non-design setting. There is a five-step process. It begins with Empathy. We need to understand what our prospects want. What is their motivation? What problems can we help them solve? This requires researching clients, prospects, competitors and entering their world view, understand where we can find them and how can we stand out.
Second, for each DG program we start by defining goals, KPIs, and objectives. Three: ideate. The creative and strategic bit! Teams bounce ideas off each other. Trust and subject matter expertise are vital here – team members need to know their creativity will be supported by colleagues, and relevant for our audience. In this phase we need to get strategic input from our leadership team, product & corporate marketing, sales, CSM, subject matter experts, product management, analysts and consultants to make sure that we speak about what matters and that we generate value and something relevant for our prospects and customers. It's the only way to unearth rare but insightful thinking.
Four: Prototype. Ideas are put into production. “Production” in our case is the Demand Generation programs and campaigns. And the final phase: Test and Iterate. All ideas should be measured, and then improved, cycle after cycle. In DG we speak about data-driven creativity and excellence always comes from execution.
Design Thinking is rarely as linear as this. It remains a phenomenal way to get inside the heads of clients and prospects, and deliver marketing programs that comprehensively address their dreams and pain points.
Buy the right Martech
Technology plays a huge role in marketing today. A survey of the tools in the industry called the Marketing Technology Landscape listed more than 8,000 applications last year. We deploy an arsenal of tools to maximise our performance. For planning and project management we use Asana. To attract and convert leads we use HubSpot automation, Buzzsumo, SEMRush, LinkedIn & Google Ads. To nurture, prospect and sell we use HubSpot, Google GDN, HubSpot CRM, ZoomInfo, Leadfeeder, CompetitorsApp, LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Our analytics operation uses Power BI, Zapier, HubSpot & Google Analytics. We are always on the lookout for something new, so if you've got any ideas do tell us.
Focus on the right prospects and programs
A common outcome of the “random acts of marketing” approach, occurring frequently in startups/scale-ups is to produce a large volume of marketing material and micro-campaigns, most of it not leveraged enough. Research by HubSpot revealed how the conversion rate of email marketing is falling as customers are overwhelmed by “noise”. It's the same for LinkedIn.
Moving forward we aim to focus on our mission as tightly as possible. Instead of doing tens of siloed micro-campaigns we prefer to do a limited series of mid-term integrated programs, well thought-out and integrated with other departments. Each marketing collateral that we produce (with corporate marketing or third-parties support) will be part of a only a few integrated demand generation programs, leveraged across various paid, owned and earned tactics for at least 6 months.
For example, our recently launched co-branded report with Efma on Digital SME Banking ties-in the FintechOS proposition and was the source of a 6-month program that includes events, webinars, interviews with target accounts, a survey with 50+ SME leaders WW and more.
Be a thought leader
Driven by corporate marketing and product marketing, this is the playground that impacts most DG performance. There's a lot of debate in finance right now regarding the direction of the industry. Will neo-banks steal market share from incumbents? What's the best way to reshape customer journeys and to maximise satisfaction? Our strategy is simple: lead in the sector by hosting big debates and create insightful, valuable and personalized content for our prospects. However, the challenge is that everyone is using such tactics. Therefore, we need to stand out and increase the quality of the content we use in DG programs (and not only).
The pandemic was a nightmare – but also an opportunity. For FintechOSthe transition to digital channels proved the importance of our model. Our product team deserves huge praise for the incredible way they responded to new client needs. We continue to grow fast, B2B buyer behavior is changing fast and our competition is fiercely using the same digital channels and tactics as we do, with more budgets and larger teams. As the company’s expectations from the marketing teams are growing, we need to play bigger and smarter, and perform better to be able generate the right amount of pipeline to reach our company’s objectives.
As you grow, internal communication becomes key
…and this is why we plan to communicate more within the organization about our scope of work, programs and plans, results, key findings, aiming to keep you all informed and, at the same time, aiming to increase social advocacy across the organization.
FintechOS is one of the hottest companies in finance and technology today. Our growth story is phenomenal. North America is our new frontier, and we'll conquer it, just as we are doing in Europe. I’ve just left from FinovateFall US with optimism - the Credit Unions, Building Societies and potential partners we’ve spoken with were open to engage in conversations with us and they did understand the FintechOS value proposition. In the US, but also across the globe, the sky is the limit for us, as long as we work as a team with common goals.
The overarching lesson from our growth from start-up to scale-up is the value of the right ethos. I often read articles on LinkedIn called something like “x steps towards a successful strategy”. But when I read it, I'm left wondering: where are the mentions about our team, colleagues from other departments, and the company’s spirit?
In Demand Generation we believe in One Team, One Company. We support each other. Believe in each other. And love the emotion of building a champion enterprise, showcasing the best talent in Europe and beyond. Our co-founders are the origin of this. The ethos and culture they instilled from Day One allows FintechOS to grow at maximum warp speed, and yet still retain the hunger, energy, and fun of those early days.
No matter what strategy we deploy, we are nothing without that core ethos. In 2022 we'll succeed not only as a team, but because we are a team. It's going to be FintechOS's best year yet.