Dan Lowther, Head of Fintech, CCgroup, on how fintechs can drive sales and brand awareness post Covid-19
CCgroup is a B2B tech PR agency with a rich heritage in fintech and is a long-standing partner of FinTech Connect. The agency works with players big and small including Flywire, Moorwand, Signicat, Revolut and Travelex.
Daniel Lowther, Head of Fintech at CCgroup, believes that most fintechs are implementing marketing and PR strategies “blind”. That is, most fintech companies don’t understand what channels, content and messages are optimal to build awareness and deliver sales.
To shed light on the issue, CCgroup is working with FinTech connect to interview technology decision makers at major banks, challengers and fintechs in the UK and U.S. to understand: how best to influence fintech buyer selection of technology providers?
Ahead of the survey launch, we caught up with Daniel to find out why he believes fintechs are marketing blind, how he sees the research helping brands, and what advice he has for fintechs trying to navigate the Covid crisis from a PR perspective.
Hi Daniel, how are you? How has life been for you and the CCgroup team during lockdown?
I’m delightful thanks Steve. The lockdown has been challenging, as no doubt it has been for everyone. But as a professional services company, I think it’s been easier for CCgroup to maintain continuity of service. There’s been little disruption to our work with clients, although the work itself has changed with a big emphasis on digital first sales and marketing activities.
We actually won best tech PR agency in Europe, Middle East and Africa which, at the least, served to break the monotony!
Are you starting to see any particular fintech trends emerge during this Covid-19 era?
The shift towards cashlessness is a big one. Ironic in a way as there is no evidence handling money spreads the virus but the wheels are in motion.
Rise of RegTech is another. With accelerated digitisation, people need to build trust virtually. Along with the rise in fraud, Covid-19 is a boon for fraud, identity and compliance firms.
I’m less convinced on digital transformation. The market is awash with commentary on how Covid-19 is accelerating the efforts of banks. But banks were overwhelmed at the start of Covid and weren’t digital-ready. And while they might be better prepared now, digital transformation is much bigger than digitising service channels.
The biggest trend for me is ESG. Fintechs rose to the challenge of Covid helping businesses access vital funds. It solved complex problems like creditworthiness for SMEs. But these ‘goods’ have been overshadowed by the Wirecard scandal. Whether voluntarily or by mandate, the industry needs to show how it will be a force for good.
What advice do you have for fintechs from a PR perspective around Covid-19?
We recently surveyed 30 trade journalists to understand how the media landscape has changed under lockdown. One highlight is that readership and page views appear to be “up” according to nearly 70% of respondents. So, if you want to engage a particular audience, now is a really good time to do it.
Overall, there are three takeaways:
• The drive to online: More interviews are conducted via video chat, and webinars and group briefings are proving popular. Media are seeing their readerships increase. PR professionals should carefully plan how they use and execute online content and engagement strategies.
• COVID-19 isn’t everything: Despite its dominance, it’s not necessarily the be-all and end-all of media’s topical coverage. Journalist are keen for non-Covid stories.
• Stay connected and even spend: Readership is up, but revenues –and thus futures –are uncertain. Brands should ensure they stay well connected with journalists, adapting to the specific needs of each, and considering commercial partnerships at a time when publications are getting more engagement than ever.
What is the thinking behind the “How to influence fintech buyers research”? Do you really think most fintechs are marketing ‘blind’?
We receive briefs from B2C brands that have reams of demographic data, focus group output and behavioural analytics. Most B2B briefs have little or no audience insight. This means most B2B brands don’t know where their buyers are, nor what channels, content and messages influence them.
Most marketers and agencies are working ‘blind’ in my view. What is missing is quantitative data on how decision makers at institutions and fintechs identify and select technology providers. Understanding their influences is critical in helping develop marketing and communications programmes that help providers sell better.
I understand this is the second time you have conducted this research. What were the learnings from last time?
There are different communications strategies that providers need to employ to ensure they are in the best possible position at each stage of the buying process. These can be summarised as:
Longlist: Visibility - Providers need to drive visibility across key channels, especially industry analysts and trade media. Building advocacy among peers and consultants is highly influential but takes time and dedication.
Shortlist: Differentiation - Providers need to demonstrate an understanding of the target audience by sharing insights and solutions that can make a genuine difference to their prospects’ business. Third party endorsements of service and technical capabilities that deliver credibility will further support differentiation.
Purchase: Evidence – Buyers need evidence the provider can deliver value for money. A bank of supporting proof points and collateral needs to be built over time to ensure the buyer has a simple choice to make.
What differences do you expect to see? And how do you think the PR landscape has changed in the last five years?
The sales process is no longer so linear. There will be less of a difference between the different stages in the pipeline and providers will need to cater for longlisting, shortlisting and purchase in parallel and concurrently.
The influence of influencers is growing. From David Birch to David Brear to Chris Skinner, these individuals hold a disproportionate influence in the industry. Working with the influencers in a way that is mutually beneficial is critical to success.
However, I expect industry analysts, trade media, and trade shows to continue to dominate the PR landscape.
Which fintech brands do you admire from a PR perspective?
Klarna because it always seems to be one step ahead of the competition. Tink because it is owning the conversation around Open Banking. Monzo because it is the brand that took fintech to the masses.
What are your tips for fintech brands to boost their PR activities and sales?
Access and insight – to put it simply. The media, influencers and buyers care about what the biggest players are doing and what unforeseen opportunities or challenges are around the corner. If PR and sales activities provide access to the biggest players and best insights, brands won’t go far wrong.
Anyone working within a UK or U.S. based bank, challenger or fintech can take part in this survey and will also receive a copy of the report. Please take part in the survey here.