There’s an old saying that cropped up the other day in respect of Margaret Thatcher’s son, Mark. It was a joking reference by Margaret that her son was so clever he could sell “snow to eskimos or sand to Arabs” or, as one wag put it, arms to anyone.
Anyways, it’s a message worth remembering as most fintech companies could not sell sand to eskimos, snow to Arabs or guns to anyone, as they have no idea how to market or sell their wares.
It is illustrated by the fact that all of the firms truly struggle with how to differentiate their services, and is prescient when I get up and read my emails, many of which are press releases from today’s raft of companies.
Honestly, the amount of office bingo that plagues these press releases and marketing programmes is unbelievable:
ABC Inc, the market leading solutions provider in the financial services markets …
XYZ Ltd, the provider of real-time, value-add, end-to-end, blah, blah …
Acme Corp, the software company that improves your bottom-line results …
To be honest, it’s all word garbage.
Finally, I cracked the struggle by defining a strategy and executing it.
And it worked.
It was based upon strategic solutions selling and I’ve alluded to it a few times.
So I like things like:
ABC Inc, the company that reduced A-Bank’s annual costs by 35 percent in one month …
XYZ Ltd, the provider of technology that gave Z-Bank a market share increase of 20 percent in one year …
Acme Corp, the company that delivered £2 billion increase in profit to 123-Bank in under 18 months …
I like bold claims, not mundane boredom.
I want stories, not spin.
I need to have my attention grabbed, not just a tick in the box that you sent me an email.
It’s no wonder most media people lament the state of things today when they get such dull dross in their inboxes.
The cut-and-paste press release.
That’s the easy approach.
The hard part is to take a long story and cut it short.
How could you take all of your company’s marketing blurb and turn it into just ten words or less?
That’s the real challenge, and I think I solved it by being The Page Three marketer, as an old colleague once referred to me.
It’s because I would always spin a story about tech into a headline that might be in the Sun newspaper.
A bit like Freddie Starr ate my hamster or Jordan is Disgusting ...
... the whole point of the Sun’s headline writer’s raison d’etre is to get you to read more of the story and then BUY the newspaper.
For me, this is a simplistic fact in marketing anything – whether it’s fintech or baked beans – you’ve got to grab the eyeballs first, then get the buyer to actually walk over, open the email, read the first para’s … and once you’ve sucked them into the story, they may or may not buy, but at least they will be talking to you.
So I would take stories about cabling the offices of the Mall which service Her Majesty's administration and turn it into a headline We wired the Queen! or working with NASA on simulating space flights into We helped put a man on the Moon and more!
It’s too radical for most to contemplate this approach to marketing technology, as it’s far too human, engaging and fun ... but isn’t that the point?
Most fintech firms get it wrong because they make it dull, boring and mundane. Then they reinforce this boredom by training their sales and marketing people in the widgets, bits and bytes of technology features and functions in banks, rather than about how their widget, bits and bytes improves banking and makes it fun.
Come on guys. It’s the 21st century. Please start communicating effectively.