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
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
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
… 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.