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2021 will truly be a clutch year for marketers. To survive, brands will have to adapt their strategy and fully meet the expectations of a consumer in search of meaning, warmth and honesty.
In today’s edition of our “CMO talk” series, we’re meeting you with Loic Jeanjean, CMO at the French insurtech startup Assurly.
Founded in 2017, Assurly is now at a pre-launch stage, getting ready to launch its first product - a digital mortgage insurance solution for the French market.
Loic joined Assurly’s team in the summer of 2020, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. With more than 15 years of experience in both Sales and Marketing, Loic is looking after Assurly’s overall marketing function. Currently, he is busy implementing an integrated marketing strategy that aims to cover every step of the sales and marketing funnel, with a particular focus on branding, advertising and communications.
What’s the secret to developing a successful go-to-market strategy? Understand who your ideal client is
According to Loic, a key step in developing an effective go-to-market strategy is identifying an ideal buyer or client persona. Using buyer personas is a common market segmentation tactic used by many marketers nowadays.
For those of you who are new to the term, below is a brief description of what it means.
What is a buyer persona? - Buyer personas are fictional, generalised characters that simply represent your ideal customers. Within an ideal buyer profile, you will work with multiple buyer personas.
Loic recommends starting the segmentation process by gathering a mix of both qualitative and quantitative consumer data.
“This step is really important. You need to truly understand your future customers if you want to strive to create the best possible customer experience to meet their needs.”
Loic describes the whole process in just one word: “empathy”. Whilst it might seem like a logical step, he thinks that very often startups seem to forget and overlook it, especially in their early days.
“It’s called "empathy", and it’s often overlooked by a lot of startups when they get started. This exercise can really help you define what your promise to your customers should be, and how you can substantiate it.”
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From sales to marketing
Prior to joining Assurly, Loic was the Head of B2B Marketing at the Paris-based fintech scaleup Ledger, where he was managing the marketing function for their fully managed SaaS solution.
However, Loic’s work experience is not limited to just fintech and marketing. Before Ledger, he was the Chief Growth Officer at a Martech SaaS company that involved advising and evangelising companies on innovative brand content and lead generation in the Mobile Marketing Economy.
When asked about the very beginning of his career journey, Loic has also shared a rather interesting and unusual story:
“My career in marketing really started in 2006. After a few years spent in business development roles in Australia and France, I decided to move to Vancouver, Canada and landed a job in a small commercial real estate company, Palagon, that was leasing office spaces all over Vancouver. They had a small inventory of office spaces that needed to be advertised and leased to small business owners around town. At the time, the only way you could market commercial properties where through classified sections in local newspapers or via a large broker (CBRE, Cushman Wakefield). Both options were quite expensive.”
“Instead, I thought about posting our listings on an online classified board called Craigslist, responding to business owners who were struggling to find office space in Vancouver. What’s funny is that at the same time, Airbnb was also listing their first places on Craigslist. In just two months, I had leased all our offices and saw a huge opportunity to replicate our model for other small office businesses that had inventory to lease but were fed up to be paying astronomical fees to real estate brokers. I met with a dozen short term office space rental providers around town, including Regus, the world leader of managed offices (before WeWork was ever created), with whom I signed a worldwide deal. We started to list their space online, as well as running Google ads on their behalf. The business model was quite simple, we would bring their qualities prospects, and they would pay us a referral fee once a lease was signed. The artisanal process became more sophisticated with the creation of a website incorporating a request form for each property, which was connected to each building operators, with a rudimentary e-signature system for them to accept our ‘leads’, an Adwords campaign budget in the tens of thousands every month, and the recruitment of 20 marketers to cover 4 continents and 10 languages.”
“The business grew to $3mln revenue by end of 2008, right when the subprime crisis hit North America like a freight train. Our business tanked by 90% in a couple of months. That’s when I joined a digital marketing agency in Vancouver, Tidal Interactive. They had been running quite a successful agency for a few years and were working on a niche spin-off business that was operating as a SaaS product. There, we built a website platform for financial services professionals with compliance and audit trail elements that was detrimental in such a regulated space. Then, we started to sign deals with the biggest financial services and insurance companies in Canada and the USA, and it was an immediate hit."
"Fast forward to 2012, our co-founders sold the digital agency and incorporated the SaaS company, as Advisor Websites. In my 9 years running marketing and growth for Advisor Websites, I did everything from starting an inbound marketing strategy from scratch (well before the term was coined by Hubspot) to dressing up as moose around the biggest financial events in the US, to hosting webinars with over 600 people, to filling the pipes of an army of SDRs. It was all about finding creative and out of the box ideas that could be rolled out quickly, tested, and prioritised based on ROI. We doubled down on what worked, and retired other experiments (that were revisited every 6 months), and designed our own marketing ideas testing methodology, years before Sean Ellis’ growth workflows.”
“Advisor Websites grew from 250 to 17,000 clients in my 9 years tenure, while remaining fully self-funded. Earning the company multiple nods as one of the fastest-growing tech companies in Canada and British Columbia.”
The present and future of fintech marketing
Loic sees fintech marketing as a thrilling, yet challenging experience. He also believes that brand humanisation, trust and transparency should lie at the core of the function.
“We operate at the bleeding edge of experience and communications, or at a crossroads between innovation and trust. For the most part, our target audience is composed of millennials, a population with higher expectations than any other generations before them. Convenience, speed, integrity, social good… just a few things they hold close to their hearts, and that they expect from the brands they buy from. This generation brings an amazing opportunity to marketers to humanise their brands, and leverage the power of cutting-edge tech like AI or machine learning to deliver a transparent and exciting message, at scale.”
When it comes to challenges, right now, the biggest one is probably the budget constraints most fintech marketers are facing due to the global COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. In addition to this, consumer behaviour has shifted away from consumerism and more towards purpose-driven and emotionally-led decision-making and purchasing attitudes. According to Loic, now it’s the time for fintech marketers to go back to the roots of marketing, challenge their way of thinking and be more open-minded about finding alternative, new ways to deliver meaningful customer experiences and create value.
“We are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and economic crisis. The lives of millions are severely impacted and consumers' expectations towards brands have dramatically changed. They want to see brands demonstrate the usefulness of their products in this new reality and adopt a positive and reassuring approach."
"For most fintech marketers today, their marketing budgets are getting the short end of the stick, and we need to do more with less while connecting with our target customers on a genuine emotional level. But isn’t it what marketing should really be all about? Connecting with people through value, authenticity and integrity. Maybe what this crisis is teaching us, is that we all need to go back to the roots of marketing, challenge our way of thinking, and use our creative minds to find innovative ways of delivering meaningful experiences.”